Live music, social activism, children’s fun and the Great Outdoors are set to mix in Flushing Meadows Corona Park this summer.

Queens Museum will launch Sundays on the Lawn on July 15. Free and brand new, this five-week series will begin with art-making classes and lawn games outside the main structure at 1:30 p.m., followed by concerts with internationally renowned bands and musicians at 3 p.m. True to its name, it’ll run on Sundays until Aug. 12, and activities will move indoors in case of rain.

Favela Candombe Ensemble will get the party started with an African-Uruguayan genre known as “Las Llamadas” on July 15. Translated into English as “The Calls,” this art form dates back to the 19th century, when South American slaves used candombe drums to communicate with each other. Over time, large street processions in the capital of Montevideo took on the name “Las Llamadas.” During these celebrations, which continue this day, marchers bang on drums called “barriles” to alert local musical groups called “comparsas” to come out and join the fun. Members of the comparsas often wear costumes mocking the slave trade.

Juan Chiavassa, a percussionist from Argentina, leads Favela Candombe Ensemble along with vocalist Virginia García Alves, who grew up in Madrid with a Spanish father and Angolan mother. (“Favela” is the term for a rough neighborhood in Brazil.) A few more drummers and some wind instrument players round out the band.

Organized by Ariana Hellerman, a long-time music curator who has spearheaded arts projects throughout the five boroughs, Sundays on the Lawn has the two themes this year: Call-and-Response and Call-to-Action.

Popular in Gospel, Blues, and Hip Hop, Call-and-Response is an improvisational technique during which one musician offers a phrase, and a second one responds. The performers then build on each other’s answers. Meanwhile, Call-to-Action is a speaker’s instruction to an audience, usually designed to inspire. So the groups Hellerman chose for Sundays on the Lawn play music that engage audiences in political dialogue and social justice action.

A list of the other scheduled performers follows.

  • Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, which mixes Colombian gaita and cumbia rhythms, is on July 22.
  • Heems, a social justice-heavy rapper of Indian-American heritage, is on July 29.
  • Innov Gnawa, a Grammy-nominated collective dedicated to exploring Moroccan music, is on Aug 5.
  • Ani Cordero, a Puerto Rican singer/songwriter who favors protest lyrics, is on Aug. 12.

Image: Favela Candombe Ensemble


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