The Harrison Festival of the Arts Society has unveiled the list of performers for the 2015 Harrison Festival of the Arts.
They also revealed some new features, including an acoustic stage on the Village beachfront and free tickets for youth 12 and under as well as discounted student pricing.
The annual festival, taking place July 11-19 this year, features such varied performers as a master of the West African lute and a Chinese string ensemble, a young Quebecois band and a Latin-fushion band. It’s a taste of the world with the ties of a family binding it all together.
Indeed, family seems to be a recurring thread of this year’s festival. In a press launch Monday, executive and artistic director Andy Hillhouse touted the key role of families in keeping the event alive, through volunteers, audiences and through the connections made within the festival.
“For the Festival week, there is a feeling created that approaches that of family amongst the participants, from volunteers to performers and audience members,” said Hillhouse. “Further, with our mandate, we try to promote the notion of the greater human family of cultures.”
In keeping this theme, festival organizers have invited acts from diverse cultural backgrounds, where music “has been passed on through the generations within family.”
Bassekou Kouyate is a master of the Ngoni, a West African lute, which was also played by his father and grandfather. He, in turn, has taught the instrument to his sons. Now his two sons and wife are members of the band Ngoni Ba which will be performing in one of the evening hall concerts
“Bassekou has developed an amplified, contemporary sound on this ancient instrument, earning a reputation as the Jimi Hendrix of the Ngoni,” shares Hillhouse.
There is an Iranian family-based group, Vashaan Ensemble, offering a mix of Person classical and folk music, and a family-based group called Les Poules a Colin, amongst others. One family that will surely provide a unique listening experience is the Jerry Cans, an Inuvik based band with a married couple at its core.
“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,” shares Hillhouse.
The festival kicks off Saturday, July 11 with a six-piece band called Ayrad in the Memorial Hall.
“Ayrad performs a style of music that is designed for dance and celebration,” says Hillhouse. Based in Moroccan and other North African pop styles, “it is joyful and exuberant.”
As mentioned, festival organizers Hillhouse and Mel Dunster, general manager, have decided to open up another venue for music this year, located on the existing village stage. These acoustic sessions will feature performers in casual, un-amplified sets and provide a background sound for the art market.
Children’s Day features a new co-ordinator, Janet Hutchinson. The hall performer this year is Al Simmons, a popular children’s performer who has been called the Thomas Edison of Entertainers for the inventiveness of his musical comedy. There will also be crafts, games and other activities for the young attendees.
This year’s Literary Cafe features a one-man play called Bookworm.
“This show, really a spoken word piece, is all about the love of reading, told through the touching story of a father and son,” describes Hillhouse.
The festival will continue to feature a juried art market, an art show at the Ranger Station and a theatre night as well. The dance workshop this year will be hosted by Seattle fiddler Suzanne Girardot.
The Harrison Festival Society has several more Memorial Hall concerts leading up to the Harrison Festival of the Arts. Up next is Petunia & The Vipers Saturday, May 2 and a festival fundraiser with Mad Pudding taking place May 23.
For more on the festival and to see the full line-up, visit www.harrisonfestival.com