Four Performing Families Explore Music, Tradition and Family Bonds

On April 21, ArtsWestchester will present “Performing Families,” a sampling of traditions from around the world, through the bonds of music and families – from Jewish folk music (Klezmer) and choral songs of inclusion to South Indian classical (Carnatic) singing and Mexican mariachi. Four family bands will convey a broader understanding of the varied meanings of “family” by discussing the intersections between music and tradition.

Music connects its performers through cultural ties and generational commonalities. Sruli and Lisa perform Klezmer with their sons. This music connects them with their children, but also with past generations, and to future generations who will learn from the melodies their sons carry forth. Of performing with her children, Lisa said: “You are connected. You are a team, a tribe.” Members of the chorus at LOFT LGBTQ Community Center, though not connected through biology, hold a bond that is created through a shared community. The group’s repertoire delivers a message of inclusion, peace and hope. Its director, Zach Wright, said: “For other groups, it’s a cultural tie. For us, it’s important for the younger people to be with older generations that have gone through the same thing as them.”

Shaaranya Pillai initially learned the oral tradition of Carnatic singing from her virtuoso mother Kiruba, whom she now performs with. On the other hand, Leslie Navarro and her brother Christopher, studied traditional mariachi instruments at academy and brought the tradition home to their parents, reversing the conventional succession of cultural progression. Though these two groups formed in different ways, they equally embrace their cultural and familial ties.

Sruli and Lisa’s Family Klezmer Band, LOFT’s Pride Chorus, Kiruba and Shaaranya Pillai and Mariachi Sol Mixteco will each perform and speak of family in ArtsWestchester’s gallery. An audience talk-back will follow. For more info, visit artsw.org/performingfamilies.

This program is part of ArtsWestchester’s Folk Arts Program, made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts.

A version of this article first appeared in the April issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews

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