A music and poetry concert tonight, Sept. 9, at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ashland will honor the late Ashland native Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, killed on Portland commuter train while defending two teen girls — one wearing a Muslim head scarf — against a racist attack.
The concert will be put on by the Chinquapin Quartet, a classical group, now in New York but created in Grants Pass. It also features the Twin Heroes Ensemble of Talent. Both groups have an artistic exchange, bringing the New York talent to the valley to learn and play with locals, said Ashlander Alex Vassos, artistic director of the concert. They are in residence for a month at the Chinquapin Arts Center near Grants Pass.
Twin Heroes website, http://twinheroesproductions.com/ says it is “Rogue Valley's home for progressive and aspiring artists. With a focus on opera and theater, Twin Heroes draws on the talents of established and emerging artists. Twin Heroes fosters and creates forward-thinking work with a focus on the themes of transcendence and spiritual intensity. Twin Heroes is committed to capturing the ethos of Southern Oregon and fostering the work of young artists within the Rogue Valley.”
Ashland poet Blaine Alexander Lindsay will perform spoken word. The work of composer Seven Skies, 18, of Talent will be performed in collaboration with him.
“She is incredibly talented, a little genius and wunderkind,” says Vassos. Her work features piano, vocals and string quartet. Prophetically, Lindsay, before the tragedy, wrote a poem about a Muslim woman under attack on a train, he adds.
“People will be speaking about Taliesin and offering poems with alternative spoken word and music, but the main energy will be going into the musical numbers, he says.
The groups contacted Asha Deliverance, mother of Taliesin, to get the concert rolling. She is producing the poetry, with speakers including Taliesin’s father, grandfather, godfather, and his Muslim soccer coach from middle school.
“This concert honors the journey of Taliesin,” says Deliverance. “The story of Taliesin is profound and poetic. This is a continuation of that story. His name came to me. It was a great bard’s name. The magic of his story shows how bards return to us over and over again. He definitely came as a bard and the magic of his story shows even further how he has those bardic qualities. The songs he wrote foretold his passing and the effect it would have on the world.
“A lot of people prayed for him after his death. The Muslim community was so profoundly cohesive that we had tens of thousands of responses from them and people flew in for his memorial in Portland, even with the other girl (on the train) being a Christian African-American.”
On its website, Twin Heroes notes, “Responding to a country in a crisis of divisions, Twin Heroes centers its summer festival on the themes on compassion and common ground. We believe that music has no politics and that art is a vehicle for creating empathy. With a variety of programming this summer, we seek to build a community that reflects these ideals and to promote compassionate thinking and communication.”
The event is at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland.
— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.