visual artist / Season 6 Imagery
Alyssa Grenning is a visual artist and designer based in southern New Hampshire. Since 2005, she has held various graphic design, illustration, and art direction roles—her current passions lying in narrative abstract forms and editorial illustration. For Palaver Strings' Season 6, Alyssa curated seven drawings that aim to create an intimate space where viewers can inhabit the softly dark mood inspired by the individual performance themes.
Graphic designer & Visual artist
Fiona Hilton is a Los Angeles-based plein air painter. When she is not prop painting objects for film and making typography murals for restaurants, she spends her time creating atmospheric seascape oil paintings. For Palaver Strings’ latest season, she utilizes a combination of her graphic design expertise and her painterly hand to create color theory-based illustrations. These designs for Season 5 were inspired by performances in Season 4, in which Palaver used color theory and specific color palettes for their ensemble's attire. The gestural ink drawings depict the orchestra's instruments in a manner that creates a vibrating effect, alluding to the dynamic nature of the performers onstage.
Violinist / On The nature of daylight, January 2020
Violinist Nicholas Kitchen, a native of Durham, N.C., has been active as a soloist and chamber musician since making his first professional appearances at age 12. Since then, his performances have taken him to more than 20 countries, where he has been presented in such halls as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Opera Bastille in Paris, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Wigmore Hall in London, and Carnegie Hall and Jordan Hall in the U.S.
His solo appearances have included collaborations with such conductors as Michael Tilson-Thomas, Otto-Werner Mueller, and Enrique Batiz. Since 1989, Kitchen has performed extensively as first violinist of the Borromeo String Quartet. He has participated in the Caramoor, Spoleto, Vancouver, and Orlando festivals, among others.
His interest in contemporary music has resulted in his premiering Stephen Jaffe’s Violin Concerto with the Greensboro Symphony, and working as an artist member of "Music from the Copland House." Kitchen is Artistic Director of the Cape & Islands Chamber Music Festival, and has the honor of playing on the A.J. Fletcher Stradivarius, a violin purchased for long-term loan to him by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation of Raleigh, NC.
filmmaker / librivion music video, october 2018
Hil Steadman is a New York-based experimental filmmaker and photographer. A graduate of Bard College, she studied 16mm film with Peter Hutton and photography with Larry Fink. As a freelancer in NYC, Hil works on commercials, music videos, and feature films. Through her work, she combines political and social commentary with strong visual and rhythmic images. As the director of Palaver’s Piazzolla music video, Hil draws influence from magical realism, incorporating poetry, tango, and more modern styles of dance.
Director / Welcome Home Tour, November 2019
Marty Pottenger is a theater artist, playwright, and social practitioner and the Founder of Art At Work (2007), a national initiative that increases cities’ resilience through strategic art projects. Pottenger is also the Executive Director of arts nonprofit Terra Moto Inc. Since 1975, her plays have toured the United States and Europe including #PhillySavesEarth (climate change/history/time travel/personal tragedies/2016/ Painted Bride); ABUNDANCE: America & Money (interviews with 30 multi-millionaires & 30 minimum wage-workers/2004/ NYC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Burlington, Houston, Providence, Chicago); City Water Tunnel #3 (Obie-award, story of the building of NYC’s water tunne/1998/Judith Anderson NYC + ICA, London); Radio Calls (with police officers after fatal shooting/2010/Portland ME); home land security (intimate & societal impacts of 9/11 performed by Portland’s Mayor, Fire Chief, Sudanese Refugee, NAACP President, Mi’kmag Tribal member/ 2006 / Portland ME); All The Way Home (performances by veterans – Iraq & Afghanistan – battling PTS/2016/Portland ME). A MacDowell Colony Fellow, she is the creator, playwright and Executive Producer of ‘MAINEUSA’ an intimate epic performance to fight climate destruction with the history of Maine from the Ice Age till now. Many of her projects and plays can be found on YouTube, as well as her TEDx talk. Marty is grateful that her great great great grandparents had the good sense to move to Guilford Maine in 1809.
Titi de Baccarat
visual artist / Welcome Home Tour, November 2019
Titi de Baccarat is an artist who possesses many facets including painter, sculptor, jeweler, clothing designer, and writer. Dedicated to justice within a hostile political context, he was forced to flee his country, Gabon, with only the wealth of his artistic ability. He has lived in Portland since February 2015 and works within his African identity and artistic expertise to contribute to the culture of the city. He believes that "Art rehabilitates love, bringing together people of all countries, backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities." His current works describe his experiences as an immigrant in the United States: his pain, fear, uncertainty, and his hope for his future here.
Speaker / Welcome Home Tour, November 2019
Kifah Abdulla is an artist, poet, writer, teacher, performer and activist. Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at the University of Baghdad. Abdulla spent over eight years as a prisoner of war in Iran and over twenty years as a refugee. He is the Arabic teacher at Southern Maine Community College and The Language Exchange. He also teaches Arabic calligraphy at Maine College of Art. Abdulla published his first book of poetry ”Dead Still Dream” in Portland, ME in 2016. He is a member of Portland Public Art Committee and performs his show “Poetry and Music” at WMPG. In addition, Abdulla is the co-founder of the first Arabic learner project and website in Maine and he mentors young writers and leaders at The Telling Room. Abdula founded the first International Arabic Language Festival in Portland and is involved in many cultural and artistic projects. He has read his poetry and short stories with ”oud and cello” in many events and festivals and has exhibited in galleries across Maine.
Jawad AL Fatlawi
OUd player / Welcome Home Tour, November 2019
Jawad AL Fatlawi is a musician from Baghdad, Iraq. He makes and plays the oud. After moving to Maine in February 2016, he found his way to Bourgeois Music where he makes guitars. He brings a world of musical experience as a performer, teacher and music philosopher. As an undergraduate, Jawad studied music at Baghdad University and then earned his Masters Degree in Music Philosophy. Over the past two years, Jawad has performed at more than 25 house parties and has played on a number of stages in the area including USM, MECA, and Mayo Street Arts. His music business is called Golden Eye Oud. Like a free bird, Jawad wants his improvisational music to represent his freedom, an open mind, and the connection between all people, East and West. Learn more about Jawad at: goldeneyeoud.com
Fiddler / Welcome Home Tour, November 2019
Jaige Trudel grew up studying classical violin and cello, and discovered traditional fiddle styles in her early teens. Since 2001, she has made her living performing at festivals, concerts, and dance venues, teaching music lessons, and giving workshops throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. She has toured extensively with the band Crowfoot, which she co-founded, and in recent years has maintained a busy touring schedule with her current project, Maivish. She is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, and specializes in working with musicians, dancers and artists. Jaige regularly composes music inspired by the traditional influences of her French, Irish and American heritage.
pianist / Welcome Home Tour, November 2019
Alex Wilder received his undergraduate degree in musical studies from Oberlin College and studied composition under Malcolm Brooks in Rockport, Maine. As a multi-instrumentalist and singer, Alex has performed with Maine groups including the Push Farther Project, Primo Cubano, the Right Track, and Oshima Brothers. With Documentary Songwriters, a non-profit, Alex writes collaborative songs based on participants’ spoken words. In 2017, he received a grant from Oberlin College to write documentary songs in Barcelona, Spain. He has produced recordings for Documentary Songwriters and recorded concerts for Palaver Strings, Bay Chamber Concerts, and Oberlin Conservatory, among others. Alex is a Franco-American descendant of the Vashon,Tardiff, Michaud, and Martin families and is an avid contra dancer. Alex’s mother, Pauline, grew up in Waterville, Maine listening to her French-speaking grandmother relate the oral history of the Acadians and their immigration to Maine. Through the Welcome Home tour, Alex hopes to further explore these roots and take part in honoring the diverse communities that make up Maine.
Speaker / Welcome Home Tour, November 2019
Rhea Côté Robbins was brought up bilingually in a Franco-American neighborhood in Waterville, Maine known as 'down the Plains.' She is the author of creative nonfiction, Wednesday’s Child and ‘down the Plains.’ Through her work and studies, she has had the luxury and opportunity to spend time contemplating and researching what it means to be Franco-American and female in the United States. She is a founder and Executive Director of the Franco-American Women's Institute—an organization that promotes awareness about the contributions of Franco-American women to culture, their families and their communities. Robbins developed and taught several courses for the University of Maine offered through the Franco-American, Women & Gender, and University Studies. Her writings and research focus on the contributions of Franco-American women in order to better inform the scholarship and creative works in the state of Maine and beyond.