In response to the U.S. border crisis, and the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Trump Administration’s travel ban for some Muslim countries, local community leader Veronica Robles has decided to host an uplifting celebration of all cultures that call East Boston and America home.
The Veronica Robles Cultural Center will presents the first annual Uniting Borders Multicultural Festival, a festival for everyone, this Saturday, June 30 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Suffolk Downs.
“The goal with this festival is to gather as community and highlight local talent and grassroots organizations to celebrate the diverse and rich cultures of our city,” said Robles. “As part of the ceremony we will offer the Ethnic Award to East Boston and Chelsea Police Departments, The Harborkeepers, Chelsea Police Department and the Jossour Moroccan Association of Revere.”
The event will feature 2005 Billboard’s Artist of the Year, Domenic Marte, and the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston, as well as thrity other local performers of music, songs and ethnic dance.
Activities for children will include bouncy houses, arts and crafts, magicians, clowns and more. “And you can’t have a multicultural event without food,” joked Robles. “Food will include tacos, arepas, hotdogs, pizza and food trucks North East of the Border and Perros Paisa, and Los Chamos.”
Robles said the program will kickoff at 12 p.m. with youth talent and dance groups including Yorgelis Williams La Voz Kids, Jossue “El Rancherito de Oro” La Voz Kids, Sebastián Medina, Alexander Taborda, Tomas Mira, the Veronica Robles Cultural Center Dancers and many more.
“Live bands will hit the stage at 1:30 p.m. starting with the pop band Karina Rae pop band, followed by the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston,” said Robles. “They will be followed by Jimador Musical a Mexican Norteño band, Grupo Los Nítidos a Salvadoran Music band, Eduardo Betancourt and Carolina Montes a Venezuelan Ensemble, Con Sabor Colombiano from Colombia, Na Bangela from Brazil and Panadictos, a Spanish rockband.”
Tickets are $20 if purchased online at www.eventbrite.com/e/multicultural-fest-uniting-borders-tickets-46871222087 or $25 at the door. Children under 12 and seniors are free.
The Chelsea Art Walk has re-booted and will host multiple events this summer under the Art Walk banner instead of having one big day, said coordinator Joe Greene.
The first event this year will take place this Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10, from noon-6 p.m.
The first event will be titled ‘Playing in the Garden’ and will be focused at the Chelsea Community Garden, 130 Ellsworth St., and will also feature a Pop Up Art Show at the Pearl Street Gallery, 100 Pearl St. – which is only a few blocks from the Garden. (open between 2-6 p.m.)
“Instead of having everything on one weekend, we have decided to spread it out,” Greene said. “A lot of our members work the event. So, the 20 or 30 working the garden wouldn’t get to see the play and the people at the music show can’t go to the gallery. It also takes the pressure off having to get everything done at once.”
Greene said they have a manager who has been hired to coordinate the re-booted event, Angelina McCoy and two new folks at the Garden helping too – the Gaspar family.
Meanwhile, Dan Cortez will be coordinating the music and theatrical event, which will be titled Fiesta Verano and will take place later, on June 23.
“We did things all at once for eight or nine years and it worked great, but it was really difficult,” Greene said. “If someone worked at the event, they missed all of it. So, we have repositioned it.”
A major decision will be laid out for residents to discuss one last time in two weeks, that being whether the Broadway business district should be one-way or two-way.
The City of Chelsea will be holding its fourth and final community workshop on the Re-imagining Broadway project on Wednesday, March 14 from 6-8 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Williams School (Music Room) at 180 Walnut Street, Chelsea. (The entrance is on Arlington Street.)
At this meeting, the City of Chelsea will present recommendations for improving downtown circulation and enhancing the public space, including redesigned squares, bus hubs, and potential changes in street direction. Public input on the project has helped to shape the concepts that will be presented. The public is encouraged to attend the workshop to provide additional feedback on the proposed concepts.
Re-imagining Broadway is a planning effort, led by the City of Chelsea, to develop strategies to improve access and mobility for all users of downtown. As in many densely-populated urban areas in the region, Chelsea faces persistent traffic and pedestrian circulation challenges, compounded by the fact that the region is served by a 19th Century street network unaccommodating to modern needs.
The plan is focusing not just on a redesign of downtown circulation, but also how that redesign will support businesses, residents, shoppers, workers, students, and all other travelers. The goals of this effort are to: enhance how public space is used and accessed downtown; support existing businesses and encourage new growth; beautify the area and create a consistent, vibrant look; improve overall safety for all users; and establish a circulation pattern that works for people driving, walking, riding bikes, and taking transit.
The current challenge is capturing this energy and harnessing it to benefit residents now and establish Broadway as the center for future generations in our community. Broadway is the place where Chelsea comes together, but its design, look, function, and operation have not kept pace with the rest of Chelsea’s evolution. This is an opportunity to thoughtfully re-create the most visible and locally used part of Chelsea to become a more desirable, navigable, and welcoming destination for residents and visitors alike.
For more information, the public is encouraged to visit the project website: HYPERLINK “http://www.ReimaginingBroadway.net” www.ReimaginingBroadway.net.
For the second time in its 70-year history, the North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra (NSPO) will follow the direction of a female conductor when Marshunda Smith guest conducts the Orchestra’s Winter Concert on Sunday, Feb. 25, at Swampscott High School.
Smith, a long-time cellist with the NSPO, will ascend the conductor’s podium as Music Director Robert Lehmann begins a sabbatical for the remainder of this season. As an African-American female, Smith’s appearance is particularly rare in orchestral music.
Smith will conduct a program themed on music inspired by the works of famed English writer William Shakespeare, including Felix Mendelsohn’s “Incidental Music from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’” and Hector Berlioz’ enchanting “Love Theme from ‘Romeo and Juliet.” The program also includes Robert Shumann’s “Julius Caesar Overture” and William Walton’s “Two Pieces from Henry V.”
Even in today’s day and age, female conductors are rare in classical music. A 2015 report on Classical-music.com, the official magazine of BBC Music Magazine, commented “The question ‘Why aren’t there more women conductors?’ remains as relevant in today’s music industry as it always has been.”
The article noted recent studies revealed that barely 5 percent of conductors of the world’s leading orchestra’s were female. While females are slowly becoming prominent on the world stage, it is likely that smaller groups such as the NSPO will be a primary showcase in the immediate future.
“We are especially pleased that Marshunda aspired to this opportunity to conduct,” NSPO President Robert Marra Jr. said. “Most rewarding is that she is ‘one of our own’ as she has been an outstanding and dedicated musician and has assisted Dr. Lehmann for the past several years as she developed her conducting skills. When Mr. Lehmann announced his sabbatical that created two opportunities for a guest conductor this season, we were eager to have Marshunda fill one of those spots.”
A native of Tennessee, Smith holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She completed her master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting with an emphasis in music education at the University of Southern Maine, under the Dr. Lehmann’s tutelage.
Tickets to the concert can be purchased at the door, $25 and $20 for seniors and students. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased online at www.nspo.org.
The North Shore Philharmonic Orchestra plays three subscription concerts at Swampscott High School. The 2017-2018 season marks the Orchestra’s 70th anniversary. The Orchestra is supported in part by a grant from the Swampscott Cultural Council, a local agency that is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. For more information about the NSPO, visit the Orchestra’s website at www.nspo.org. or on Facebook.
By Seth Daniel
The late Victor Bailey, a world-renowned jazz musician and painter, will be honored on Dec. 9 at the final show in the Spencer
Lofts Gallery. Bailey was a resident of the Lofts for about two years before passing last year.
It’s only appropriate that Victor Bailey would close down the Spencer Lofts Gallery.
The world-famous jazz musician, who passed away last year from complications related to MS/ALS, once lived at the Spencer Lofts while working as a bass professor at Berklee College of Music. After taking up art as well as music, he had a great collection of works that were expertly shown in the gallery when it re-opened two years ago. It drew a major crowd and was a highlight for the long-time gallery in the loft building.
“He passed away in November 2016 and lived here about two years ago,” said Dar DeVita, who coordinates the gallery and announced this week that Bailey’s fundraising show would be the last show there. “He was a lovely man and everyone got along great with him here. He was always so happy and loved it here. He really loved that people in the building knew him for his painting, and not just his jazz. After we had closed the first time, he was our re-opening show. Now, sadly, he will be our last show before we close again.”
The fundraiser will benefit Bailey’s estate through the proceeds from the many works that remain in his family’s possession. Bailey’s paintings will be on display in the gallery and will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the Victor Bailey Estate and the Berklee College of Music.
The time will take place on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 4-8 p.m. in the Gallery at Spencer Lofts. Parking is available on site.
Additionally, several of Bailey’s colleagues from Berklee will be on hand to play live jazz music throughout the evening – which will be a tribute to not only his music prowess, but also his artistic abilities.
Born into a music family in Philadelphia in 1960, Bailey attended Berklee and launched a hugely successful jazz career, while also writing many well-known R&B songs for major artists.
An accomplished bassist, Bailey was an Associate Professor of Bass at Berklee College of Music. He performed and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Lady Gaga, Miriam Makeba, Madonna, Mary J. Blige and many others during his long, notable career. He also recorded with Chelsea’s own Chick Corea from time to time.
Bailey was the bassist in two of the most influential jazz-fusion groups: Weather Report (he replaced the legendary Jaco Pastorius) and Steps Ahead.
Bailey drew up upon his jazz career for inspiration in his art career.
DeVita said it will be a bittersweet evening for the Gallery though, as it is closing down for good. Though many Chelsea residents have treasured its contributions to the arts scene in the city, DeVita said many of the residents in the building are not interested anymore.
“We are closing it down,” she said. “I’ve resigned as of Jan. 1 and there is no one taking over. The building doesn’t understand the value of the gallery and my time is up. I’m hoping the show will spark some interest in someone to take over. Maybe it will be a person in the building that will see the value of this and want to keep it going. If not, it will just close.”
The Gallery was a coup for Chelsea when the lofts were built more than a decade ago, one of the few arts locales in the City.
Reception and admission to the Gallery are free and open to the public. The Victor Bailey Exhibit runs through December 31, 2017. Gallery hours by appointment.
Accessible parking is available, as is on-street parking.
The Chelsea Senior Center held its annual fundraising ice cream social on Thursday, July 20, and found many people ready to eat ice cream and dance to the music. Gail Curran, Nancy Nminski, Chris Kaminski and Judy Litwin show off an ice cream treat.
Galen Abdur-Razzaq lit up Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) Chelsea Campus on Monday afternoon with his flute and four piece jazz band, which was spiced up in between with a comprehensive history of jazz and the social history behind the music. The program was part of BHCC’s Black History Month celebration. The program was a hit with everyone who attended.
In conjunction with community improvement efforts across the country organized by NeighborWorks America, The Neighborhood Developers and Chelsea Thrives organized a cleanup and flower-planting event at Bosson Park. Organizers gathered dozens of community volunteers, equipped them with tools, planters, and mulch, and served to brighten their neighborhood.
This NeighborWorks Week effort kicked off Chelsea Shines 2015, the second annual summer of neighborhood beautification projects organized by Chelsea Thrives and its Community Enhancement Team. The Community Enhancement Team brings residents’ needs and proposed solutions to the attention of the organization and drives their efforts.
Chelsea Thrives VISTA Associate and organizer of the day’s work, Sharon Fosbury, said, “Chelsea Shines creates an opportunity for residents to be part of the change that they want to see in their community.”
In 2014, 225 volunteers, consisting of residents and local organizations affiliated with Chelsea Thrives, organized to improve the streets around Chelsea’s Shurtleff/Bellingham neighborhood. They recognized the neighborhood’s needs, as litter scattered along sidewalks attracted more waste. After the summer’s efforts, new planters and flowers lined the streets, and residents responded positively. Polling indicated that they had were now encouraged to recommend their community “as a good place to live,” and felt empowered that they could make “a great deal” of positive difference in their community.
Mike and Christine planting flowers near the Highland Stairs earlier this month during the Chelsea Shines 2015 kick-off.
As the Community Enhancement Team planned for this year’s Chelsea Shines effort, they recognized the challenge of cleaning the streets along Bosson Park. The community decided to tackle this area when the most hands would be on deck, during NeighborWorks Week. The high volume of work that these streets called for were met with high energies and a long haul effort, as volunteers began cleaning and planting at 2 p.m. and worked until sunset. Music and free food fueled their efforts and the parkside neighborhood was boldly refreshed.
Bill Hanney pictured inside
the North Shore Music
Bill Hanney would never call himself a hero but to musical theater fans in this region, he’s the man.
It was Bill Hanney who saved the venerable North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly from extinction. If not for the dynamic leadership and vision of Hanney, NSMT would likely be home to a major chain store today.
Hanney is entering his fifth season as the owner and producer of all NSMT productions events. The theater had been dark for one year before Hanney purchased it in February, 2010.
“We had our first show, “Gypsy,” on stage in July,” said Hanney. “We had four shows and “A Christmas Carol.”
The decision to stage “A Christmas Carol” with noted actor David Coffee was a major decision on Hanney’s part. “They didn’t do it the last year the theatre was open. The did “High Musical 2” instead and it really destroyed them.”
Needless to say, the popular Christmas classic will be back for the holiday season once again in 2014.
There’s that hero label, again. For not only he was an instant hero for reviving the theater but fans flocked to see the return of “A Christmas Carol.”
“This show is so beloved with David Coffee,” said Hanney. “John Kimble came back and directed it. Every year the show comes back and it doesn’t miss a beat.”
Hanney said his first three seasons were not moneymakers. NSMT turned the corner in Season 4.
“Last year we had one of the best seasons ever for the theatre,” said Hanney. “And we are substantially ahead of last year.”
As the 2014 season gets underway next week with “Anything Goes,” Hanney attributes NSMT’s growth and popularity to some distinct factors.
“We have the confidence of the people knowing that the shows we put on the stage are quality,” said Hanney. “Another key factor is that the people love the show’s selections. The hardest thing that I do in this business is picking the shows that I know people are going to want to buy tickets for. I have to come up with five shows that I think people will really want to buy a subscription or single tickets to.”
Hanney, who also owns Theatre-By-The-Sea in Matunuck, Rhode Island, has beautified the entire grounds and renovated the lobby area at NSMT during his tenure. He also re-designed the restaurant and came up with ‘the secret” to its newfound success.
“It’s the buffet,” said Hanney. “We figured it out – Let’s give people a really good buffet so they can eat at their own pace and be ready for the show. We have a host restaurant for each show. The restaurants come in with their own menu. The food is really terrific.”
With season subscription sales up and tickets flying out of the box office for individual shows, Hanney is confident that 2014 will be a banner another year for NSMT.
“This will be the most successful season that the North Shore Music Theatre has ever had,” predicts Hanney.
(For a schedule of shows and concerts this season, please visit www.nsmt.org).