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Global Mashups at Flushing Town Hall

NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert; photo by NPR

Mashing up Two Cultures on One Stage with an Open Dance Floor!

Global Mashup 2019: Latin Boogaloo meets Klezmer; photo by Flushing Town Hall

In keeping with its mission to present global arts to a global community, Flushing Town Hall’s popular series of Global Mashups is returning for its seventh season, bringing together a truly international array of artists. Beloved by audiences, the annual series will again pair diverse performers from distinct musical traditions and countries together in concert.

Only in Queens, the most diverse county in all of the United States, where more languages are spoken than anywhere else in the world, will audiences find a five-part season of Global Mashups featuring styles that r range from bluegrass to Ghanaian brass. The yearly series has garnered such an enthusiastic following that its 2019 concerts sold out.

At each of the events, audiences will experience a separate set of musical performances from two different regions, followed by a third, collaborative set in which they jam together on a stage to create a new sound.

Global Mashup dance lesson; photo by Flushing Town Hall

Before each show, attendees can participate in interactive, introductory dance lessons that will help them enjoy the performance from their seat – or on their feet on the global dance floor! There will also be special drinks and food on sale.

“The spirit of these mashups is one of celebration and respect,” says Ellen Kodadek, Flushing Town Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director. “We are celebrating and respecting our differences and appreciating each other’s unique, cultural traditions, while also coming together for a one-of-a-kind, shared experience. The arts move us all and bring people together!”

An audience member at last year’s Global Mashup noted, “every age and culture was there, dancing all together. It gave me hope for humanity.”

“It was a brilliant, musical adventure,” said Jonathan Goldman, a 2019 participating artist. “What a fun night!”

The upcoming 2020 Global Mashups season will present: #1 Klezmer Meets Venezuela with clarinetist Michael Winograd and the Honorable Mentshn and Betsayda Machado y Parranda El Clavo on February 29; #2 Hungary meets Ghana with Eletfa and Kotoko Brass on March 14; #3 Colombia meets the Philippines with Cumbia River Band and Sining Kapuluan on April 4; #4 Bluegrass meets Mexico with Astrograss and Jarana Beat on April 18; #5 Balkans meets Tango with Slavic Soul Party and The Aces of Rhythm on May 2.

“Through this series, we present a wide variety of notable artists, each a master in their respectable traditions,” says Kodadek. “We are really excited to help our audience discover new bands and world music they otherwise might not have known or considered before.”

One such artist is Michael Winograd, an internationally acclaimed clarinetist and Artistic Director for KlezKanada, the world’s largest klezmer music festival. Klezmer is a folk music tradition originated by European, Ashkenazi Jews that has experienced a popular resurgence in recent decades – and Winograd leads the pack. New York Music Daily wrote, “there is no Coney Island ride, with the possibility of the Cyclone, that can deliver the thrills of Winograd’s clarinet.”

Winograd will be performing with his klezmer band, The Honorable Mentshn, and collaborating with Betsayda Machado’s Afro-Venezuelan folk music group for the very first “mashup” of the season.

Betsayda Machado y Parranda El Clavo: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert; Photo by NPR

A renowned artist in her own right, Betsayda Machado and her band Parranda El Clavo were described by The New York Times as “vital, accomplished,” and “deeply rooted.” NPR called her shows “the most joyful.”

Another concert in the series of five Global Mashups will feature Kotoko Brass, a group inspired by the traditional drums of Ghana. The band’s improvisational style of West African dance music was described by the Boston Global as “propulsive, infectious party music” – sure to bring Flushing Town Hall audiences to their feet!

At their event, Kotoko Brass will collaborate with Életfa, the beloved house band of the Hungarian community local to New York and New Jersey. These are but a sampling of the incredible mashups ahead in 2020.

For those unfamiliar with the venue, Flushing Town Hall concluded its 40th anniversary year in 2019. It draws a large audience from around New York City, and in particular from Queens and neighboring Long Island.

As a member of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) and a Smithsonian Affiliate, Flushing Town Hall is committed not only to presenting the arts but also to hands-on learning, and it strives to uphold the legacy of inclusiveness that has defined its community since the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657.

Slavic Soul Party; courtesy of Flushing Town Hall

As the neighborhood’s demographics have evolved, so has Flushing Town Hall’s programming to better reach its immediate audience and serve as a regular touchstone and gathering place for the community. Responding to the growing, local Asian population, Flushing Town Hall formed a Chinese Cultural Committee. It has also expanded its programming to include arts from Latin America and South Asia while continuing to present the best of American jazz. (Few realize the borough of Queens has been home to a great many jazz icons).

The annual series of Global Mashups were an inevitable outgrowth of the cultural center’s dynamic programming and born of the desire to bring its diverse audiences and artists together around a common language and love: the arts!

Sure to sell out, those interested in attending a Global Mashup are encouraged to purchase tickets sooner rather than later. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.flushingtownhall.org or by calling (718) 463-7700 x 222. Teenagers aged 13 to 19 years old can attend for free under the “Teen Access Program.”

Flushing Town Hall is accessible by car, bus, train, and foot – located a short distance from the 7 train – at 137-35 Northern Boulevard, in Flushing, Queens. Access for wheelchair users and individuals with limited mobility is available. More information is available at www.flushingtownhall.org.

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