Palaver Strings celebrates the joy and catharsis of music in a program featuring bassist Kebra-Seyoun Charles, winner of the 2022 Sphinx Competition. In a mashup of musical styles and eras, the ensemble combines string orchestra classics by Grieg and Bartók with fiddle tunes and “Feeling Good,” a song made famous by Nina Simone.
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Palaver Strings celebrates the joy and catharsis of music in a program featuring bassist Kebra-Seyoun Charles, winner of the 2022 Sphinx Competition. In a mashup of musical styles and eras, the ensemble combines string orchestra classics by Grieg and Bartók with fiddle tunes and “Feeling Good,” a song made famous by Nina Simone. At the heart of this program is John B. Hedges' Raise Hymn, Praise Shout, a concerto for bass and strings originally commissioned by the Sphinx Organization in 2014. This piece is rooted in African American church music traditions: The soloist “lines out” hymns and leads the “congregation” (string orchestra) in song. To spontaneously connect with the audience and each other, Palaver will play much of the program from memory. Presented in partnership with the Sphinx Organization.
Sonata (on the theme from Feeling Good) - Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse, arr. Kebra-Seyoun Charles (3 min
Romanian Folk Dances - Bela Bartok, arr Alex Goodin (7 min)
Holberg Suite - Edvard Grieg (20 min)
Yorkshire Lass/One Hour in Hungary/Shuckin’ Stiddy - Greg Boardman, Mikael Marin, Roger Tallroth, Elsie Gawler (8 min)
Raise Hymn Praise Shout - John B. Hedges (14 min)
About Palaver Strings
Palaver Strings is a musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization based in Portland, ME. Founded in 2014, Palaver has established itself as a forward-thinking ensemble whose mission is to strengthen and inspire community through music. In their musician-led model, Palaver’s musicians share artistic and administrative leadership, guided by a passion for engaging new audiences, addressing social justice issues, and amplifying underrepresented voices. Each year, Palaver presents a full series of live performances featuring diverse musical programming, cross-genre projects, and community collaborations.
About Kebra-Seyoun Charles
Kebra-Seyoun Charles is a double bassist originally from Miami, Florida. They received their Bachelor of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, where they studied with Todd Seeber and Lawrence Wolfe. Kebra-Seyoun is currently pursuing their Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Joseph Conyers. They are also a recipient of the prestigious Jerome L. Greene and Morse Teaching Artist Fellowships.
Growing up the child of an African drummer and dancer, Kebra-Seyoun was exposed to music at a very early age. Early exposure to jazz, gospel, and traditional African music led Kebra to express interest in other forms of music. They now study classical music passionately and draw influence and inspiration from ostensibly contrasting genres and musicians. In line with their upbringing, Kebra-Seyoun is able to give prominence to the dance qualities in all forms of music. Exhibiting their versatility, Kebra-Seyoun has had the opportunity to play alongside esteemed improviser and composer Tyshawn Sorey. Kebra-Seyoun also played in the Slugs’ Saloon installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, created by famed jazz musician and composer Jason Moran.
In addition to being the principal bassist at the Juilliard School, Kebra-Seyoun is a Sphinx Concerto Competition Winner and alumnus, two-time winner of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s concerto competition, the winner of NAACP’s ACT-SO concerto competition, and the 2021 Southern Illinois Young Artist Competition and International Music Organization competition. They have also been featured by National Arts Club, Performance Today, YoungArts, From the Top, Bass Players for Black Composers, the American Music Talent competition, and the National Library of Congress. In addition to their solo career, Kebra has performed with many different ensembles, including A Far Cry, Palaver Strings, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oregon Symphony. From 2016-2020, They were the principal of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s double bass section. This included performances in Boston’s Symphony Hall, Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, Vienna’s Mozarteum, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Kebra-Seyoun has thrice played as a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.