Wortham Center for the Performing Arts presents American Patchwork Quartet (APQ) Thursday, May 18, at 7 p.m. in Diana Wortham Theatre. The concert is presented as part of the 2023 Asheville Amadeus Festival in partnership with the Asheville Symphony.
APQ comprises Harini “Rini” Raghavan, Clay Ross, Clarence Penn and Yasushi Nakamura, four GRAMMY-recognized artists who merge their diverse backgrounds and talents to reimagine timeless songs from America’s past. APQ draws connections between the nation’s contemporary culture and its immigrant roots.
“I was always drawn to folklore from around the world and how music can tell us so much about a culture,” says Raghavan. “When Clay invited me to perform with APQ, I was thrilled to explore his re-imagined interpretation of roots music in the current diverse American context, bringing in my Indian roots.”
Raghavan, a Chennai-born singer, composer and violinist, draws upon influences from all over the globe, using her formal training in the traditional Carnatic music of Southern India, as well as her studies at Berklee College of Music.
Founder of the Billboard chart-topping band Ranky Tanky, GRAMMY-winning guitarist and vocalist Clay Ross has collaborated with artists as diverse as Gregory Porter, Cyro Baptista, Snarky Puppy and Bobby McFerrin. Three-time GRAMMY-winning artist Clarence Penn is one of the most sought-after drummers in the world, a leader of multiple bands, a composer, a prolific producer and an educator.
He has performed with artists including Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter and Stanley Clarke. Yasushi Nakamura, one of the most commanding voices on bass today, received a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from Berklee and was awarded a full scholarship to The Juilliard School.
“Rini, Clay, Yasushi and Clarence use their varied cultural backgrounds to breathe new life into American roots music,” says Wortham Center’s education and engagement director Anna Kimmell. “Audiences will be inspired and enchanted by their meaningful, rich interpretations.”
The concert will also include a compilation of local oral histories and songs presented in an archival video as part of Wortham Center’s storytelling initiative, American Patchwork Project. “By elevating the lived experiences of local community members, we not only create a cultural archive, but also ground the music and message of APQ’s performance right here in Appalachia,” says Kimmell.
An Intro to Indian Music Master Class led by Raghavan takes place Tuesday, May 16, at 5:30 p.m. in the Henry LaBrun Studio. Participants will learn about two styles of classical Indian music and Raghavan will demonstrate how APQ members weave their influences into American folk songs.
To learn more or purchase tickets, visit WorthamArts.org or call 828.257.4530.