Monday, August 10, 2015

The Harp and the Songstress

 Neighborhood Music School (NMS) presents acclaimed soul singer Latanya Farrell on Tuesday, August 11, as the final show in the Twilight Tuesdays concert series in the Park of the Arts behind NMS at 100 Audubon Street. The show features the Connecticut Harp Circle as the opening act. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.  Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Rain or shine! Tickets on sale now at and at the door.

Farrell has been dubbed the "Queen of Summer Concerts" by the Hartford Courant, thanks to her success rousing enthusiastic crowds at packed outdoor venues in Hartford and the entire New England region. The former Connecticut Star Search champion has influences that include Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and Jill Scott, just to name a few

On Tuesday she’ll bring that energy to the NMS Twilight Tuesdays stage for the first time. Farrell enjoys singing outdoors, where music can be a great equalizer: “I absolutely love performing in front of crowds of friends and families, old and young. Music is for everybody.”

The show will feature a mix of original songs – featured on Farrell’s 2008 debut album “Feelin’ Alright” – as well as popular covers. She says she and her accompanying band will “read the crowd” Tuesday night, pulling from her eclectic soul-based repertoire to fit the mood, whether that means slowing down with some heartfelt jazz ballads, or playing more uptempo numbers – and getting people up and dancing!

Farrell – who in addition to performing has been a teacher in the Bristol, CT school system for years – says that her music often speaks to her journey as a woman, exploring and embracing her roles as a mother, wife, friend, performer, teacher and many more.

That’s a message that fits in perfectly with the Summer Rocks! program in session at NMS next week, a week-long intensive for young musicians. This year’s Summer Rocks! theme is “Women in Rock”; in addition to forming bands and taking electives, participants will study artists like bassist Carol Kaye, drummer Sheila E. and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, and exploring the important social lessons inherent in rock n’ roll.

Tuesday’s concert opens with the Connecticut Harp Circle, founded by celebrated musician and NMS faculty member Haley Hewitt, who was crowned USA National Scottish Harp Champion by the Scottish Harp Society of America in 2013. The Harp Circle brings harp players of differing levels and experience together in a relaxed, informal setting. They have played at several venues this summer, and this fall they will perform at the Scotland Highland Games Festival in Scotland, CT on October 11.

The group has prepared a special program of music from around the world for the Twilight Tuesdays concert. “I try to include a wide variety of styles,” Hewitt says, including some you might not expect from harp players, like improvisation and syncopated strumming. Hewitt says that every time she plays in front of an audience, people ask her questions about what is a truly fascinating instrument.  

“When I first started, I just liked the way it looked,” she says of her harp lessons as a child. “It’s gotten more and more interesting the longer I do it.”  

The August 11 concert at NMS will be a celebration of two unique musical genres, and two innovative female musicians!

“I’m honored to be part of the summer concert series,” Farrell says of the upcoming Twilight Tuesdays show. “I’m going to come and share my soul.”

Concert-goers are encouraged to bring a picnic dinner. BYOB is welcome!  Food will be available from local food trucks (Caseus Cheese Truck and The Meat Truck Co.). NMS’s neighboring restaurant, Koffee?, will  be open and is offering wine and beer for $6 per glass. The concert will be moved indoors in the event of rain.