In its fifth year, FirstWorks Festival 2008 has grown to be a culturally diverse showcase, distinctly international in flavor, with an array of theater, dance, new media, and family entertainment. The talent on display will hail from Providence and France, from Africa and Bulgaria, in the more than five weeks of performances, from October 2 to November 9. Some of the concerts are world or regional premieres, and several are free.
On the opening day of the festival, LO CÒR DE LA PLANA, an all-male a cappella ensemble from the La Plane quarter of Marseilles, France, will perform at 8 pm at the RISD Auditorium. Singing in the medieval Occitan language of southern France, the group is known for vocal techniques that display influences ranging from African rhythms to Gregorian chants. This tour is their US premiere.
Also on October 2, PIXILERATIONS [V.5]: FRAGMENTS & (W)HOLES will take place in various downtown Providence locations. More than 60 new media artists will present surround-sound electronic media concerts, experimental nightclub jams, and video art in various interactive gallery installations. The opening will be from 6 to 9 pm, the exhibition runs through October 11, and all Pixilerations events are free. For details, go to pixilerations.org.
Bulgaria’s CREDO THEATRE, also on its US premiere tour, will present a family show on October 4 at 8 pm at the RISD Auditorium. In Daddy’s Always Right, clowns and puppets will create a winter fairyland in the audience’s imagination, which the theater created for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen.
October 3 will see a world premiere performance of Kompa Variations by DANIEL BERNARD ROUMAIN (AKA DBR), written by him and staged with DJ SCIENTIFIC, WYNNE BENNETT, and the PROVIDENCE STRING QUARTET. DBR is a dynamic, classically trained violinist with hip-hop experience. As he has stated, the performance will be “about Paganini, but also about Prince.” The show ($18) is at 8 pm at the RISD Auditorium (with a pre-show at 7:15 pm). DBR will read from his essay on musical philosophy at 5:30 pm (free).
At Waterplace Park on October 5 at 2 pm, CHRIS TURNER AND THE MAXI MINIMALS will present a free performance of Terry Riley’s In C. Providence’s Turner, a hurricane of a harmonica player, credits this musical work by California composer Riley as having changed the course of 20th-century music, influencing rock as well as such composers as Brian Eno. (The rain location will be the RISD Auditorium.)
Blending “poetry, jazz riffs, hip-hop, down-home blues, and Spanish boleros,” UNIVERSES will discuss their artistic approach at Providence Black Repertory Company on October 8 at 6 pm (free). Admission will be charged for a performance at RISD Auditorium on October 9 at 8 pm (pre-show 7:15). The show of the five singers from the South Bronx has been described in the Boston Globe as “a headlong explosion of poetry, percussion and multi-cultural musical exploration that absolutely demands to be seen.” This is their Northeast premiere tour.
A family music performance by DAN ZANES AND FRIENDS, with ALBREKE, will take place October 11 at 2 pm at the Providence Performing Arts Center. The Grammy Award-winning musician was formally lead singer for the Del Fuegos. He and his band will include music from his recently released CD, ¡Nueva York!, which ranges from rock to see chanteys to Broadway tunes. A Rising Stars Showcase will take place at noon.