By Caelin Grambau, University of Pittsburgh English Writing & Spanish double major
The Pittsburgh Perspectives Festival, a week-long series of concerts celebrating local musicians, and musicians and composers of color, is launching for the first time this June! Described as “a music festival to connect and support professional musicians and audience through diversity and inclusion, to amplify voices of musicians of color and create a sense of community” the Pittsburgh Perspectives Festival will highlight a number of different musicians, including a Latin Beats performance in Beechview on Sunday, June 26th with NYC based and world renowned string quartet Sweet Plantain. Keep reading for details!
In 2018, Armenian American cellist chamber musician Katya Janpoladyan developed the Pittsburgh Perspective festival with the aim to highlight, celebrate, and bring together diverse musicians and feature composers of color.
In the wake of the pandemic, Janpoladyan, along with co-director Maureen Conlon Gutierrez, delayed bringing the Perspectives Festival to Pittsburgh. With their opening week this June of 2022, they are extremely proud to be presenting a fantastic line up of outstanding musicians and composers.
Those who make the festival possible include Pittsburgh Youth Concert Orchestra, Opportunity Fund, Heinz Foundation and Sphinx Organization.
When and Where:
The festival will run for three separate days, and is free to the public.
Tuesday, June 21 – 7 PM at Memorial Park Church, 8800 Peebles Rd. Alison Park, PA 15101
- Music from Incidental Chamber Players, Rodrigo Ojeda, Katya Janpoladyan, Maureen Conlon Gutiérrez, Sandro Leal-Santiesteban, and Kai Potts-Smith.
Thursday, June 23 – 6 PM at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2001 Wylie Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15219
- Music from the Paul Thompson Trio, George Heid III, Antony Croes, Katya Janpoladyan, Maureen Conlon Gutiérrez, Sandro Leal-Santiesteban, and Kai Potts-Smith.
Sunday, June 26 – 7:30 PM at Insomnia Discotec, 810 Brookline Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
- Music from Sweet Plantain, a string quartet performing a mix of Latin music to bridge between generations and genres of Latin American music.
This week, Presente caught up with co-founder Maureen Conlon Gutierrez to talk about the background behind the festival, community focus, and the artists and performances in the spotlight this opening year.
The festival, which was originally supposed to open in 2020, was pushed back due to the pandemic. “We were hoping to have our inaugural season in 2020, but then of course the whole world shut down.” Colon Gutierrez says.
Despite covid restricting the majority of community events, the founders stayed positive.
“The idea [in itself] was brilliant. We really want to see different audiences and different artists up on stage. The main goal of the festival is to amplify those artists, and to build bridges with the communities; to bring that music to the communities.” Conlon Gutierrez says. Now, they get to see those goals come to life.
“For our first concert, in Wexford, the programming and all the artists will be people of color. It’s going to be a very unique and cool experience.”
Following the opening night performance are two more concerts, one in the Hill District highlighting jazz works by composers Florence Price and Jessie Montgomery, and a grand finale of sorts on Sunday, at Insomnia Discotec in Beechview, featuring the world renowned string quartet Sweet Plantain.
Conlon Gutierrez is especially grateful for each of the musicians involved. “Our goal is to always promote and support as many local musicians as possible. Two of our three ensembles are Pittsburgh based.” Sweet Plantain, the only non-Pittsburgh based musicians, are coming in from NYC on their one free day.
In the future, Conlon Gutierrez, along with the rest of the Pittsburgh Perspectives Festival family, can’t wait to watch the festival grow. “It’s been a really fun ride and we’re finally here, able to do this. Our goal is for it to become a yearly event and have it grow. We’re dreaming big but our [overall] goal is to make small differences along the way.” she says.
For now, they plan to focus on the audiences and the artists, and let the music do the work. “I think the audiences are really going to love and get involved in what the musicians are bringing to the table, and that’s what it’s all about, being involved in what’s happening, not just being a spectator.” Conlon Gutierrez concludes.