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Roxbury Concert Series brings live music to BPL in Nubian Sq.

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Roxbury Concert Series brings live music to BPL in Nubian Sq.
Zahili Gonzalez Zamora performed in the first season of the Roxbury Concert Series. PHOTO: YI-CHIN CHEN

If you’ve heard the strains of a classical violin or the soulful riffs of a saxophone wafting down the halls of the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library in Nubian Square, you may have been enjoying the Roxbury Concert Series without even realizing it. Several times a year, the program hosts live concerts for free at the library in an effort to bring some of Boston’s most renowned musicians into the neighborhood.

“My plan was to bring to Roxbury the talent that we have in the city,” says Carlos Vargas, founder of the Roxbury Concert Series. “That’s the beauty of it, that people will change their views about classical concerts or jazz concerts, and they will start seeing it as less stiff and more accessible.”

Carlos Vargas, founder, Roxbury Concert Series COURTESY PHOTO

Vargas is a pianist and a professor of music at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. A native of the Dominican Republic, he has always prioritized bringing music into diverse communities. With the help of a grant from the Boston Public Library, he provided free music lessons to people in the Roxbury neighborhood for many years. Now, the Roxbury Concert Series is funded by the Fellowes Athenaeum Trust Fund of the Boston Public Library and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

This is the second season of the Roxbury Concert Series, and Vargas has designed the lineup to reflect Boston’s music scene.

“We have so many wonderful institutions that are world renowned, you know, like New England Conservatory and Berklee College of Music,” says Vargas. “And so I wanted to dedicate one concert to each of these institutions.”

The first concert of the season, on Oct. 28, featured Hemenway Strings, the premier string orchestra at Boston Conservatory. Coming up on Dec. 2, New England Conservatory’s Trio Gaia will perform. Later in the season, the Roxbury Concert Series will collaborate with Celebrity Series of Boston for the first time to present a concert by Venezuelan pianist Leo Blanco. Vargas hopes that collaboration will grow in the coming year.

Zahili Gonzalez Zamora, a pianist, composer and professor at Berklee, was one of the performers in the Roxbury Concert Series’ first season. “Making artistic expression accessible, we provide our community, especially young people, with the chance to learn about music history, improvisation, collaboration and creativity,” says Zamora. “Live performance can promote critical thinking, communication skills and cultural awareness.”

All of the concerts are free and open to the public and are performed at the recently renovated Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library. The best way to follow the concert schedule is on the series’ Instagram account, @roxburyconcertseries

“Roxbury is a historical neighborhood and a community that has such a diversity,” says Vargas. “It’s a neat thing to bring musicians to communities, to right on their doorstep have this level of artists. It just enriches the life of the neighborhood.”

arts, BPL, music, nubian square, Roxbury Concert Series
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