BIOGRAPHY

Since 2014, Palaver Strings has made its mark as one of New England’s most innovative chamber ensembles. The ensemble’s Co-Artistic Directors curate artistic programming collaboratively and democratically, rotating project direction and musical leadership. Each year Palaver presents a full concert season featuring diverse programming and world-renown collaborators, and offers music instruction to hundreds of students through the Palaver Music Center.

Palaver’s recent and upcoming engagements include appearances at Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, and the Kennedy Center, as well as residencies at Rockport Music, Longy School of Music, and Boston Center for the Arts. The ensemble has collaborated with artists such as Kinan Azmeh and Attacca Quartet, and commissioned works from Errollyn Wallen, Kareem Roustom, and Sato Matsui. Palaver’s 2022 album Ready or Not (Azica Records, 2022) received acclaim from The Guardian and left BBC Music Magazine “wanting more.” Our new album A Change is Gonna Come features Nicholas Phan and Farayi Malek on new arrangements of American protest songs. Palaver Strings is proudly represented by Ariel Artists.

Equally committed to education, Palaver launched the Palaver Music Center (PMC) in 2019. PMC programs offer pathways to musical development from birth through adulthood, including Early Childhood Music classes and string instrument lessons taught by Palaver musicians. Our programs seek to address inequities in access to music education, serving Portland families of diverse backgrounds. 60% of our students qualify for low-income subsidies, and 55% are first-generation immigrants, primarily from Angola, Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. The PMC, located in the Bayside neighborhood where many of our students live, serves as a central community hub for classes, lessons, and rehearsals. Palaver musicians also offer high school and college-level educational programming, including workshops, masterclasses, and a graduate course on Music and Community Engagement at Longy School of Music. In this experiential class, Palaver members guide students through the process of creating a real-life community music project.

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PROGRAMS

Port City ft. JP Jofre + Heyni Solera

Tour Window: September, 2025

 

Pétalo SelserDeriva

Osvaldo GolijovLast Round 

Carlos Di Sarli, arr. Teagan Faran – Milonguero Viejo

Anselmo Aieta, arr.Faran – Palomita Blanca

Osvaldo Pugliese, arr. Faran – La Yumba

Heyni Solera - Crepúsculo / La Espera

JP JofreTangodromo 

Julián PeraltaSofía y Los Sueños

Mariano Mores/Diego Schissi, arr. Faran – Tanguera

Astor Piazzolla, arr. Faran – Oblivion

Astor Piazzolla, arr. Faran – Libertango

Port City explores tango music throughout the genre’s history, and features bandoneon virtuoso Heyni Solera as soloists and composers. Palaver will perform danceable classics and tango-inspired compositions, and premiere a new work for bandoneon and strings by JP Jofre. We will also welcome powerhouse dancers Phi Lee Lam and Diana Suárez to join us for a full tanda, or series of tango dances. This performance will celebrate tango’s ongoing evolution and the powerful interplay between music and dance. Join us before the show as well for a movement workshop led by Lam and Suárez!

Serenade

Tour Window: November, 2025

 

Carlos Simon arr. Teagan Faran – Between Worlds 

Maurice RavelTrois Chansons

Laurie Anderson/ J.S. Bach arr. Teagan Faran – O Superman x Andante from Violin Sonata in A minor 

Josef SukSerenade for Strings, Op. 6 

Laura Mvula arr. Lysander Jaffe – Sing to the Moon

Glenn Miller arr. Lysander Jaffe – Moonlight Serenade

Serenades explores the serenade through a broad lens, across genres, eras, and styles in a changing world. At its heart is Josef Suk’s Serenade for Strings. We juxtapose this Romantic classic with Carlos Simon’s Between Worlds, a meditative work inspired by visual artist Bill Traylor, whose life and work spanned the end of slavery through the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. In our arrangement, different string parts “serenade” one another antiphonally across the ensemble. Ravel’s Troi Chansons, written at the outbreak of World War I, reflects on loss of life, innocence, and continuity in a changing world. Our arrangement of Laurie Anderson’s O Superman, fused with the third movement of Bach’s A Minor Violin Sonata, explores human relationships with machines and with one another. The program concludes with modern-day “moonlit serenades” by Glen Miller and Laura Mvula. Serenades is a musical call for a new and brighter world.

The Apple of their Eyes

Tour Window: March, 2026

 

Maurice Ravel arr. – Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano 

II. Blues: Moderato

Julia Perry arr. – Prelude for Piano

Clarence White arr. – Bandana Sketches, Op. 12 (Four Negro Spirituals)

Adolphus HailstorkSonata da Chiesa 

William Grant StillMother and Child for String Orchestra

This program explores the African-American experience in classical music, through the eyes of Black composers. It begins with the “blues” movement of Ravel’s Violin Sonata No. 2, arranged for string orchestra and solo violin, and continues with our arrangement of Julia Perry’s Prelude for Piano, a nuanced, neoclassic gem full of anticipation and reflection. At the heart of the program is Clarence White’s Bandana Sketches, a four-movement arrangement of Negro Spirituals. We conclude with the lush romantic string writing of Adolphus Hailstork and William Grant Still, linked by themes of spirituality, meditation, and familial bonds. The Apple of their Eyes encapsulates the beauty and resilience of the African-American experience, and celebrates the richness and depth of Black classical music.

Sinfonia Fantastica

Tour Window: April, 2026

 

Florence PriceAdoration 

Nina ShekharAbove the Fray 

Xenia St. Charles Iris Llyllyth Canary Resuscitator 

Teagan Faran Sinfonia Fantastica
 

Sinfonia Fantastica addresses themes of gender, power, fear, and desire through the medium of chamber music. Sinfonica Fantastica, a world premiere by Palaver’s own Teagan Farran, is a response to Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, retold from the perspective of the pursued woman. It draws on themes from the original Berlioz as well as Farran’s deep knowledge of tango idioms, relating them to Paris’s role in globalizing and exoticizing tangoian tastes during Berlioz’s time. Sinfonica Fantastica turns the Romantic fascination with the exotic and the masculine hero on its head. Our program continues with Nina Shekhar’s Above the Fray, which takes Bach’s famous cello prelude and transforms, degrades, and reshapes it. Llyllyth’s Canary Resuscitator is an ambient chorale-like piece that refers to the use of canaries in coal mines to warn of gas leaks. She compares the canary to the US trans population, especially around issues of healthcare and wellness, and her piece is intended both as a response to and a respite from the political turmoil surrounding trans rights.  

ENGAGEMENT

Outside The Bachs (Grades K-8)

What exactly is “classical” music? Join Palaver Strings for an engaging presentation exploring string music by Bach, Mozart, and Haydn, as well as groundbreaking voices of the modern age. This 45-minute workshop introduces the sounds of the string instrument family (violin, viola, cello, and bass), as well as the diverse voices, eras, and styles under the classical umbrella, with an emphasis on music by women and composers of color. This presentation is designed for grades K-8, with no prior musical experience required.

SideXSide (Grades 4-12)

Designed for school orchestra students, this workshop puts Palaver Strings musicians side by side with students, introducing the fundamentals of chamber music and conductorless ensemble playing. We also introduce the concept of improvisation and spontaneity as tools for creative musical expression. This 60-minute workshop is designed for grades 4-12, with some prior string instrument study required. Repertoire will be chosen in consultation with the school’s orchestra director/string teacher and tailored to the age and experience of the students. 

Ferdinand The Bull (Ages 5-10)

Hear the classic story of Ferdinand the Bull with a full string orchestra and narrator! With music by Alan Ridout and text by Munro Leaf, Ferdinand the Bull tells the story of a young bull who feels different from others, and eventually learns to accept himself for who he truly is. This 10-15 minute performance is designed for students age 5-10, with no prior music experience required. Palaver Strings or the host organization may provide a narrator.

Touching Sound

Join Palaver Strings for an engaging and hands-on experience that empowers students to unleash their creativity! Guided by experienced musicians, participants will explore music through interactive activities such as instrument-making and painting to live music.  This multi-sensory approach encourages students to explore and experiment freely. These 45-60 minute workshops can be customized according to age group, with no prior musical experience required. Additional costs for materials may apply, depending on the activities involved.

Harmony of the Heart (Ages 5-9)

Music and emotion are inextricably linked; music evokes a wide range of emotions in listeners, from happiness to sadness to excitement to calm. Join Palaver Strings in an interactive concert of music and emotion through active listening, musical expression, movement, and mindfulness.

This 45-minute presentation is designed for students ages 5-9. No prior musical experience is required.

Come Together: Palaver and Friends (Ages 8+)

Creative collaboration brings together people from different backgrounds, skills, and experiences. This 60-minute workshop/performance features Palaver Strings and collaborating artists, and includes a short performance and discussion of musical style, cultural values, power dynamics, and strategies for equitable collaboration across cultures, genres, and artistic disciplines. Examples of collaborating artists include Kinan Azmeh (clarinet/composer/improviser), Heather Stewart (modern dance), Chris Pattishall (jazz pianist), and Lauren Stevens (traditional Wabanaki song). This presentation is designed for students age 8 and up, with no prior musical experience required. Note that this workshop is dependent on the availability of collaborators, must be booked at least one year in advance, and that additional costs for guest artists may apply.