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‘Arts for All!’ community concert series highlights local artists

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Arts for All!’ community concert series highlights local artists
The Jason Palmer Quintet kicked off the series. COURTESY PHOTO

This fall, Celebrity Series of Boston is staging 11 free, livestreamed community concerts as part of their “Arts for All!” initiative. Every Thursday evening from Sept. 10 to Dec. 17, a different beloved local performer will take the stage to bring hope and tapping feet into Boston homes through music and other art forms.

“Little did we know that vulnerability would become the word of the moment, given the invasive effects of COVID-19. Our health, for sure, but also our sense of community, is threatened,” says Gary Dunning, president and executive director of the Celebrity Series of Boston. The free programming is aimed at restoring that community, he says.

Veronica Robles will host her annual Navidad celebration. COURTESY PHOTO

Veronica Robles will host her annual Navidad celebration. COURTESY PHOTO

Though music is one of the primary artistic modes represented, with concerts by local favorites like the Jason Palmer Quintet, dance and poetry will also grace the screen. Abilities Dance Boston, a professional dance company featuring performers of different abilities, will perform a livestreamed piece from the Wimberly Theatre on Oct. 29.

“Dance uses the body to tell stories and process emotions, and we deserve to be able to participate in that,” says the dance company’s executive director, Ellice Patterson. The use of familiar, local venues for some of the livestreams also allows audience members to feel more connected to the theaters that have been shuttered since March.

On Thursday, Dec. 17, Verónica Robles, mariachi singer and longtime cultural leader for Boston’s Latino community, will host her annual Navidad celebration, livestreamed from her living room. “A Mexican Christmas: Songs and Stories” will celebrate the traditions of Christmastime in Mexico and the favorite music and tales shared during the season. Though livestreamed concerts do lack the in-person interaction, there is an intimate quality to being brought into a performer’s living room, as though Robles has invited all of Boston home for a holiday party.

The “Arts for All!” Neighborhood Arts program offers these 11 concerts for free, as well as a number of private workshops and performances for schools and community partners. Other programs in the Celebrity Series 2020 season present concerts from national artists and a live follow-up conversation with each artist. These six performances are ticketed, at $15 – 20 per concert.

Dunning says, “I believe that the arts can be a salvation after this time of lost community … We hope it sparks a light in your day and gives reason to pause and be grateful for the wealth of art we will one day be able to embrace together.”

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