Mali

2015 Harrison Festival Maintains Diverse Programming with Added Family Focus

This year's Festival lineup showcases acts from diverse cultural backgrounds in which music has been passed on through the generations.

The Harrison Festival of the Arts is known around the world for its creative and diverse programming. That 37 year old tradition will continue this summer but with an added focus on celebrating family, in all its various forms. Running from July 11 to 19, the 2015 Harrison Festival will feature both a family inspired lineup and new family friendly pricing.

“The heart of our Festival’s mandate is community development through the sharing and embracing of diversity,” says Harrison Festival Society Artistic Director, Andy Hillhouse. “The celebration of a broad concept of family, one that transcends bloodlines, and reaches out rather than excludes, fits well with that.”

Consistent with this interwoven theme of family, this year’s Festival lineup showcases acts from diverse cultural backgrounds in which music has been passed on through the generations.

Evening hall performer Bassekou Kouyaté, from Mali, is known as the ‘Jimi Hendrix of the Ngoni’, a West African lute. He learned to play this ancient instrument from his father and grandfather, and in turn has taught his sons Moustafa and Mamadou.  Along with his wife, vocalist Amy Sacko, his sons are members of his band Ngoni Ba, who will be performing in the Memorial Hall Saturday, July 18.  Other hereditary African musicians at the Festival will be Vancouver-based Senegalese kora player Boujou Cissoko and percussionist Yoro Noukoussi from Benin, who will be collaborating especially for their Sunday, July 19 Beach Stage performance. From a totally different part of the world, the Iranian family-based group Vashaan Ensemble represent the sophistication of the Vancouver Persian music scene, offering a mixture of Persian classical and folk music on the Beach Stage Saturday, July 18.

Also featured on the Beach Stage Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18, The O’Schraves from rural northern Ontario are a family in which the kids have all grown up with the inheritance of a vibrant Ontario fiddle tradition, in a home in which making music was an everyday event. The young Quebecois band Les Poules à Colin, also performing July 17 and 18 on the Beach Stage, has several internal family bonds, and as the offspring of prominent musicians in the Quebecois folk music revival, they bring together a depth of tradition with the contemporary styles of their modern generation.

Rounding out the Festival’s music making families, The Jerry Cans are a band that consists of a married couple at its core and will be performing at both Children’s Day Wednesday, July 15 and on the Beach Stage Thursday, July 16.From Inuvik, this five-piece group plays a fun style of music that combines an energetic folk sound at times reminiscent of Spirit of the West and The Pogues, with throat singing and lyrics in the Inuktituk language.

“The theme of family emerged organically as this year’s lineup began to take shape,” says Hillhouse. “It wasn’t necessarily a conscious effort initially but was harmonious with other family related features we had planned for this year.”

In addition to the family themed lineup, this year’s Festival will introduce a new twelve and under free ticket policy for performances in the Memorial Hall.

“Children three and under have always been free but this year we increased the age limit to allow families greater accessibility to the Festival’s evening events,” says Hillhouse. The Society has also introduced a new reduced rate for students.

Even this year’s poster graphics were designed with the theme of family in mind. Displaying five different sunglasses as representative of both family and the Society’s mandate of diversity.

“Throughout the history of our Festival, families have played a role in keeping this event alive, whether through the inclusion of young volunteers alongside their elders or through the participation of families as audience members,” says Hillhouse. “During the Festival there is a feeling created that approaches that of family amongst the participants, from volunteers to performers and audience members. It’s really quite magical and we want to honour that.”

Complete lineup and tickets for the 37th annual Harrison Festival of the Art are available online at www.harrisonfestival.com, by phone at 604-796-3664 or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison. Early bird pricing available until June 26.