There is music and then there is “En Masse” – music written by Daniel Bernard Roumain intended to draw in and celebrate the community in which he is performing. “En Masse” was written about four years ago and he has performed it in six cities since then – the most recent performance was in Connecticut before his First Friday Art Walk in Portland this evening.
Following his performance at Monument Square at 5:00 pm., Roumain led an entourage of music lovers down Congress Street – stopping at preselected store fronts for mini-concerts with local musicians of all ages.
There was the Peaks Island Ukes – an ensemble of fifteen (15) players who entertained the crowd with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Down on the Corner” – two old favorites – with Roumain accompanying them occasionally. (See below right photo.)
Two other favorite groups in the street music Walk are students of the Portland-based Maine Academy of Modern Music. They are: the Mammoth Brass Band and the Mammoth Rock Chorus. The Academy is a private school with students from many area schools, co-led by Chas Lester. (See last left photo of the Mammoth Brass Band.)
Madeline Mayo, 7, and Gretchen Henley, 10, won a place in the crowds’ hearts with their duet in front of the Maine Historical Society. The duo played several popular tunes and ended with several encores, including “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Madeline’s mom said her daughter has played the violin for 2 l/2 years. (See below right photo of the two)
By the time the musicians and their fans reached Congress Square Park, the final destination, the crowd had snowballed to a size that filled the Park and then some. Eventually, the crowd size grew to estimates of between 2,500 and 3,000 people by Dinah Minot, Executive Director of Creative Portland.
The rousing conclusion at Congress Square Park included a performance by the popular Burundi Drummers, Portland’s Own. (See above right photo.)
Portland’s First Friday Art Walk is the state’s largest free monthly cultural event. Every month, regardless of the weather, Portland celebrates the creative culture that makes us one off the best small cities in the country. The Walk opens the doors of Portland’s visual arts community by joining together and introducing a wider audience to the unique artists here and their creativity.
(Please see below left photo of the Mammoth Brass Band. )
The cost of admission: Priceless!