With Covid-19 in the background, ProMusica Joplin returns with outdoor performances

It’s Morning Edition on KRPS; I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. That is the Austin, Texas-based multi-instrumental band Invoke. They meld traditions from across America, including bluegrass, Appalachian fiddle tunes, jazz, and minimalism, weaving together truly individual music written by and for the group. Invoke will be the opening performance on Thursday, April 8, for ProMusica Joplin’s 40th season of concerts.

Jay Gilman, Executive Director of the chamber, classical and jazz performance non-profit, is ready for the performances to take off. “We are very excited about implementing a series of outdoor performances after having been through a year in which we did a number of exciting digital initiatives as well as our Overtures of Hope program. So we’re going to have three concerts. One in April, one in May, one in June. And first up, we are going to be bringing to Joplin a very exciting young ensemble from Austin, Texas called Invoke.”

If you’re a fan of Chris Thile, the former host of the public radio’s music variety show, Live From Here, there is a good chance you’ll like Invoke’s stylings. According to Jay, the quartet brings together a variety of instruments and musical styles. “Invoke is a hybrid ensemble. They use classical instruments like cello, violin, viola, which folks might be familiar with. But they also bring a very unique Americana, bluegrass, hybrid sound with instruments like mandolin and even banjo. So, we’re very excited to bring them to Joplin.”

Invoke Quartet

The anticipation for Invoke’s performance on April 8 in Joplin has been so high that ProMusica says they’ve reached capacity for the outdoor event. You can sign-up for the waiting list at ProMusicaJoplin dot org. And for now, the non-profit will not be live streaming this event but is working out the details for future performances to be streamed. The second performance of ProMusica’s revised 2021 schedule takes place on Thursday, May 27. The group is known worldwide.

ProMusica Joplin casts a wide net, musically speaking, pivoting from a quartet with no wind instruments to one that is completely made up of them. If you’re a regular listener to Performance Today on KRPS (11 am- 1 pm weekdays), you may have heard the Boston Brass on the program. Jay expects this performance to be as well attended as any other in ProMusica Joplin’s 40-year history. “So Boston Brass is a really incredible brass quintet. Based as their name suggests, out of Boston. But they are truly a world-traveling ensemble. We’re really excited to bring them here. One kind of quirk of this concert is we are amplifying many of our outdoor events this summer because typically chamber music is presented, of course in, indoor settings, smaller audiences of a few hundred folks. With Boston Brass, we’re in this unique situation where because of course with the instruments, one of the few things that we don’t’ have to worry about in the outdoor performance is amplification.”

The Boston Brass

“It’s going to be a really balanced concert of some historic pieces, classical pieces, and early music as well as some pieces that may feel a bit more contemporary for folks. If you’re a fan of the Boston Brass or have never heard of them before, you’ll likely hear some of their standards at their performance on May 27, but there is also a good chance they’ll play something to surprise, according to Jay. This quintet really specializes in being an all-terrain group of artists. And so, it’s going to be a very diverse set of pieces of music, and I think a perfect summer-time outdoor activity for Joplin audiences to join us.”

According to Jay, ProMusica Joplin has been certified by Missouri Art Safe. It’s a program organized by the Missouri Arts Council to ensure that events are held safely. One of the precautions this season is to have guests make show reservations online to allow for social distancing. Also, patrons will be asked to wear a mask. The concert series will commence on June 17, with a group that is well-known jazz lovers in Four States and internationally. The Brubeck Brothers Quartet.

There are not many groups that could top the Boston Brass, although Jay, if you’re going to attend just one PMJ concert this season, you probably want to make it this one. “They are, of course, sons of the legendary jazz artist Dave Brubeck. And it’s a really wonderful ensemble that we’re bringing in. Of course, they are a jazz ensemble. So folks may know us primarily as a chamber music presenter, but of course, we also present jazz as well. It is going to be a really magical night right when summer is going to be at the perfect temperature.”

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet are no strangers to the Four States; they visited the area in 2018 for another ProMusica Joplin performance. Although the Boston Brass and BBQ play different styles of music, there are some similarities. “They, similarly to Boston Brass, really bring a very wide gamut of musical styles and acceleration that they are going to be bringing here. So, we’ll hear some standards; we’ll also hear some original pieces. But this is truly a world-class ensemble. They’ve been to jazz festivals across the world. Recorded together, and secondly in a variety of ways, and so it’s going to be a really excellent event. Certainly, some toe-tapping and hand snapping to go along with the really wonderful music.”

Executive Director of ProMusica Joplin, Jay Gilman. The non-profit will kick off their revised 2021 three-performance schedule on Thursday, April 8, with a concert from Invoke. To learn more about the organization and its upcoming performances, visit ProMusicaJoplin.org.

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