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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: February 11, 2019

Hear, Here brings a wide variety of Portland talent to Merrill for one night

Written by: Ray Routhier

The Palaver Strings are among the artists who are part of the Hear, Here lineup.
Photos courtesy of Creative Portland

On any given night in a variety of venues, there are talented artists and musicians performing all over Portland.

So why not bring them together?

That’s the idea behind Hear, Here, a wide-ranging performing arts show scheduled for Sunday at Merrill Auditorium in Portland.

Nearly a dozen performers and groups will share the stage, including dancers, a classical strings group, rockers, an organist and a rapper.

The performance is a collaboration among the nonprofit group Creative Portland, entertainment professionals and various sponsors from around Portland. The goals include exposing the performers to new audiences and letting them perform in a majestic concert hall. The city is donating free use of Merrill Auditorium.

Dancer Riley Watts

“This is a way to put these acts on a big stage and claim them as our own before they bust out nationally,” said Dinah Minot, executive director of Creative Portland, a group aimed at promoting the city’s creative economy. “This is a way to get the performing arts more attention.”

The artists and groups scheduled to perform include: Just Plain Jones, a digital composer and hip-hop artist; singer-songwriter JanaeSound; dancer Riley Watts; rapper Sarah Violette with singer Renée Coolbrith; Batimbo United Burundi Drummers; Palaver Strings, a musician-led string ensemble; James Kennerley, the Portland municipal organist, performing on the Kotzschmar Organ; punk rock band Weakened Friends; and Portland Symphony Orchestra trumpeter Betty Rines.

The show is scheduled to last about 90 minutes, with no intermission. It will feature digital art and lights from Big Room Studios in Portland, projected behind the performers.

“We want it to clip along at a good pace, so there’s one sensational moment after another,” said Minot.

Minot said the show’s organizers aren’t trying to claim this is a “best of Portland” presentation. They just want to give people a sampling of the city’s diverse performing talent.

Maya French, who plays  violin with Palaver Strings, says the Hear, Here show is a great way for Portland’s varied performers to get to know each other, and possibly work together in the future.

Palaver Strings is a 13-piece classical group with no conductor that performs in restaurants, bars, yoga classes and hospitals, and does classes and workshops for youngsters. The group also has collaborated with different kinds of artists, including a dance company and an electronic percussionist.

“I think this is a really accessible way to show what the city has to offer, artistically, all in the same space,” said French, 25.

Hear, Here

WHEN: 4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $25, $12 for students and children

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