Palaver Strings Announce 3rd Album: 'A Change Is Gonna Come'

April 22, 2024

Palaver Strings joins forces with three-time Grammy-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan and celebrated jazz vocalist Farayi Malek.

Release Date: May 24, 2024    |   PRE-ORDER VINYL  HERE



“In an age where it seems like most tech algorithms' primary goal is to provoke anger in order to keep us scrolling on our phones, this program feels important. Music is unique as a form of protest, because, as these songs demonstrate, it has the power to win hearts and minds. Hope for lasting change lies in that special power of song, as does hope for healing and consensus building in this increasingly fractured and fraught time.” - Nicholas Phan



A Change Is Gonna Come provokes conversation, confronts the past and present, and celebrates the act of protest as one of humanity’s most precious rights. Repertoire on the album - spanning genres, eras, and movements -  includes traditional songs of protest and music inspired by social movements and historical events, including a new commission by Errollyn Wallen titled Protest Songs, sung by Phan. Eight of the thirteen tracks on the album are heard in arrangements by Attacca Quartet’s Domenic Salerni.

To celebrate the album's release, Palaver Strings and Nicholas Phan have launched a 3-day residency project and performance that explores collaborative music-making, storytelling, and protest through song by involving local community members in writing their own stories with Palaver's Lifesongs Project. 

Click here to read more about this collaborative performance experience. 



FIRST  SINGLE  OUT!   LISTEN  TO  JONI  MITCHELL'S  ‘Fiddle and the Drum’ 




Note from Palaver Strings:

"This album has been in the works for several years, and we are thrilled to finally release it into the world. The constant barrage of racial inequalities, environmental degradation, political instability, and war we are confronted with every time we tune into current events can easily leave us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. Protest is a fundamentally hopeful act, which is why it feels particularly important to revisit and reimagine these classic protest songs through a contemporary lens, as both an act of protest, and as a way to imagine a better world."



“It has been the greatest privilege to compose for Nicholas Phan and Palaver Strings. I am delighted that my new work, Protest Songs, is included on this important album.” 

                - Errollyn Wallen


The centerpiece of A Change Is Gonna Come is the world premiere recording of Errollyn Wallen’s “Protest Songs”, commissioned for this project in 2021. An award-winning, Belize-born British composer and performer, Wallen herself wrote the text for the first movement, setting the second to a text by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an abolitionist and one of the first Black poets published in the United States.




A Change is Gonna Come will be available for purchase on glorious double-vinyl on July 1st, 2024. 

Pre-Order yours here to make sure you get yours first. 

All pre-orders will be shipped the day of the release. 






Palaver Strings is a musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization based in Portland, ME, whose mission is to strengthen and inspire community, engage new audiences, address social justice issues, and amplify underrepresented voices through classical music. through music. Each year, Palaver presents over 40 live performances featuring diverse musical programming, cross-genre projects, and community collaborations. Equally committed to education, Palaver offers music instruction to over 325 students per year through the Palaver Music Center in Portland, ME. 



American tenor Nicholas Phan is esteemed for his diverse repertoire spanning 500 years, performing globally with top orchestras and opera companies. He's acclaimed as a curator, serving as the artistic director of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago and creating programs for WFMT and WQXR. Phan has curated projects for various institutions and served as vocal artist-in-residence at San Francisco Performances. A Grammy-nominated recording artist, he's the first Asian-descended nominee in the Best Classical Solo Vocal Album category's history.



Farayi Malek is a jazz vocalist, composer, and educator, teaching at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory. A highly sought-after performer, Farayi is a member of Danilo Pérez’s Global Messengers, performing and recording at festivals and venues around the world.



Palaver Strings' 2025-26 Program Offerings


Port City ft. Heyni Solera

Pétalo Selser

Osvaldo Golijov

Carlos Di Sarli

Anselmo Aieta, 

Osvaldo Pugliese

Heyni Solera, 

Julián Peralta, 

Mariano Mores

Diego Schissi

Astor Piazzolla



Carlos Simon

Maurice Ravel

Laurie Anderson/ J.S. Bach

Josef Suk

Laura Mvula

Glenn Miller


Apple of Their Eyes

Maurice Ravel

Julia Perry

Clarence White
Adolphus Hailstork 

William Grant Still 


Sinfonia Fantastica

Florence Price

Nina Shekhar

Xenia St. Charles Iris Llyllyth

Teagan Faran