Lincoln Crossroads Music Festival returns with eight days of concerts

by L Kent Wolgamott via the Lincoln Journal Star

In 2019, the Lincoln Crossroads Music Festival debuted with a series of concerts that brought internationally recognized chamber musicians to the city to perform with local groups.

Each concert focused on the music of a cultural tradition — The Levant (Syria, Iraq and Turkey) and the Yazidi community. Ukraine, Peru and Scandinavia.

Canceled in 2020 by the coronavirus, the festival will return Sunday, beginning an eight-day run of concerts, workshops, storytelling, films and jam sessions with a different theme.

“The last festival was about cultural groups,” said Executive and Artistic Director Erik Higgins. “This year we have artists from India, African American artists, artists with roots in the Middle East. But this time, that’s not the focus at all.

“What the theme has turned out to be is we’ve all been through this hard 18 months, how do we take care of each other? How do we come together?”

The theme is “See Our Faces, Hear Our Voices,” the result of being masked for so many months.

The festival will open Sunday afternoon with a free celebration at Tower Square that will feature Maeve Gilchrist, an acclaimed Celtic harpist who will present the opening concert, “Harpweaver,” at First-Plymouth later that night.

Known for her innovative approach to the instrument, Gilchrist will be performing with an orchestral group of accomplished players led by Higgins, an acclaimed bassist.

“Harpweaver” will be the first of the festival’s four formal concerts. The others:

* “Peace in Balance,” set for Tuesday in the Sheldon Sculpture Garden, will feature Edem Soul Music, a Ghanaian-American composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.

* “In Memorium,” Thursday at St. Paul United Methodist Church, will remember those lost to COVID-19 with works by Philip Glass, Mozart and Bach performed by a string, piano and percussion ensemble. The concert will be free to health care workers and first responders.

* “The Peacock at the Crossroads,” Aug. 7 at South Street Temple, will feature a collaboration with tabla player Sandeep Das, sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan, visual artist Samina Hooda and members of Lincoln’s Yezidi community.

Along with the formal concerts, the festival will present three free after-work concerts at The Mill in the Haymarket. The concerts, set for 5:15 p.m. are on Tuesday, Thursday and Aug. 6.

And there will be a ticketed “late-night” concert by singer/songwriter Wes Garlington on the Kiechel Fine Art rooftop on Wednesday.

“I like different kinds of formats,” said Higgins, a Lincoln native who created the festival to give back to his hometown. “I’ve had fun with free concerts after work in other cities, so we’re going to do a couple of those. And the Kiechel show should be different and fun. A lot of those things, I wanted to try from the very beginning and we were planning to do in 2020.”

Instead, last year’s festival became a series of video interviews. Some of those interviews led to next week’s concerts that Higgins worked diligently to put together during the pandemic.

“All through the winter, we were not sure if it was going to happen,” Higgins said. “We’re really lucky it’s happening with all these great artists.”

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