Celebrity Series launches Latina bandleader concert series
Latina musicians take center stage this season in a special series of concerts produced by Celebrity Series of Boston. From September through May, its Neighborhood Arts series celebrates Latina bandleaders in four concerts that highlight the rhythmic talents of diverse, local female musicians.
Robin Baker, associate director of community engagement at Celebrity Series, worked with Elsa Mosquera-Sterenberg from Ágora Cultural Architects to select the musicians for the series. “Every month is Hispanic Heritage Month, not just one,” says Baker. “We’re really trying to help amplify all the good work that all of our artists are doing, but also make sure we adequately represent gender variety as well as cultural diversity.”
The celebration began with Fabiola Méndez’ “Afrorriqueña” film and concert project on Sept. 17. On Oct. 29, Veronica Robles will perform with her all-female mariachi band in celebration of Dia de los Muertos. On April 22, Cuban flutist Sheila del Bosque Fuentes will perform Afro-Cuban music with her quartet, and on May 6, Chilean tenor saxophonist Patricia Zárate Pérez and her quintet will showcase music from their new album.
Neighborhood Arts concerts are always free and open to the public. In this series, accessibility is taken even a step further than that. The concert of Fabiola Méndez’ album “Afrorriqueña” is available to stream online for free for three months. The album explores African influences on Puerto Rican culture and music, paying homage to the diaspora. Méndez also drew inspiration for the album from the poems of contemporary female Puerto Rican poets.
“The Afro-Rican culture needs to be more visible and appreciated,” says Méndez. “’Afrorriqueña’ is the first step towards doing that. It’s an honor to work with women poets I love and admire, joining forces to create beauty.” During the Sept. 17 event, Méndez’s music was paired with a screening of her film “Negrura,” which explores stories of Afro-Latinx community members from Boston’s Latin Quarter Cultural District.
The accessibility of these artistic performances is a crucial to Celebrity Series in representing all the communities and cultures of Boston. The performances by Sheila del Bosque Fuentes and Patricia Zárate Pérez will also be accessible for free on the digital platform for three months after their in-person concerts, allowing Bostonians to enjoy these musical talents as their schedules allow.
“I hope audiences will celebrate the joy of all of us being together,” says Baker. “We want to bring the arts for all to people regardless of income or circumstance.”