2019 Reviews

Headline Concerts


“I believe that what you breathe out, what you utter, you create, you make alive.” Thabisa’s soul emerges through her music in an unforgettable blend of a diverse medley of musical influences and her own distinctive energy. Thabisa, whose name alone means “make others happy”, challenges us all to be better versions of ourselves, spreading messages of love, hope, and introspection.

Marion Meadows & Rohn Lawrence

Marion Meadows is a smooth jazz soprano saxophonist, born in West Virginia but raised in Stamford, CT. At age nine, he started studying classical music and playing clarinet, moving to tenor sax and eventually soprano sax. He attended Berklee College of Music as a major in arranging and composition, later enrolled in SUNY Purchase School for the Arts, and received his doctorate in music from Wilberforce University about three years ago.


with Kashyap Jani and Friends

Garba360 brings the exhilarating energy of folk dances garba and raas to new communities for all to celebrate through dance. Garba is a form of Indian folk dance and music from Gujarat, ever evolving through creative voices. Garba360 has enlivened festivals in Chicago, New York and San Francisco with the invigorating traditional music of Kashyap Jani and Friends and their shared passion about spreading their culture. The clapping, spinning and bright colors of garba commemorate wedding celebrations and the vivacious Hindu festival Navratri. Garba360 instructors guide new dancers, using the dance to educate about Navratri and its mythological importance.

Force MDs

The Force MD’s originated hip-hop, doo-wop and hip-hop soul. The group, built on old school hip-hop, was among the first R&B vocal groups to mix doo-wop singing with hip-hop beats. The Force MD’s produced memorable R&B hits throughout the 1980’s, achieving great success with the classic “Tender Love” which peaked at #10 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained there for almost 20 weeks. The Force MD’s continued to release R&B staples including “Love is a House”, “Tears”, “Here I Go Again” and “Let Me Love You”.

Vivian Green

Contemporary R&B talent Vivian Green has been writing songs since she was 11. She grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and quickly developed her musical skills, practicing piano at age eight. As a teenager, she wrote songs, sent out demos and performed wherever she could find gigs. A Love Story was her debut album, narrowly missing the Top 50 of the Billboard 200 album chart in 2002. She released Vivian in May 2005 and reached number 18, and her following album of 2010, Beautiful, also made the Billboard 200. She has been nominated for multiple awards from Black Entertainment Television, Lady of the Soul Train and Soul Train. She released her sixth album, VGVI, in the fall of 2017, which was considered for three Grammy nominations.

The Carrie Ashton Band

Carrie Ashton’s passion for music has been long standing; she began performing at the age of thirteen and never looked back. For almost 20 years Carrie has been performing and perfecting a stage show that is unpretentious and captivating. She is currently performing solo acoustic as well as with her band, and travels throughout New England and the east coast. Carrie has shared the stage with Natalie Merchant, the Go-Go’s, REO Speedwagon, Antigone Rising, Van Zant and Lucinda Williams. She has an innate ability to read the crowd and move them with her unique style and charisma, and her energy on stage is hard to ignore.

Gina Chavez

10-time Austin Music Award winner Gina Chavez topped both the Amazon and Latin iTunes charts with her bilingual 2014 record, Up.Rooted. She has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and applauded by The Boston Globe, USA Today, and Texas Monthly. Chavez has been an official SXSW artist five times, has toured worldwide as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department, and co-founded the Niñas Arriba College Fund for Young Latinas in San Salvador. She was born in Austin, Texas and did not discover Latin folk music until her first year of college in Argentina. Chavez has integrated Spanish lyrics and Latin inspired rhythms into her songwriting ever since.

Tiempo Libre

with New Haven Symphony Orchestra

Sensual, summery and sophisticated Afro-Caribbean music group Tiempo Libre is one of the hottest contemporary Latin bands. Tiempo Libre has been nominated for Grammys three times, has played all around the world, and has been featured on The Tonight Show, Live from Lincoln Center, and Dancing with the Stars. The group’s goal is to impart their Afro-Caribbean heritage through their musical interpretations of the meshing of their origins with their adopted American experience. Their tropical music, namely their 2011 album My Secret Radio, recalls the band members’ life as teenagers in Cuba at a time where listening to American music over the radio was illegal. The childhood friends fled from Cuba one by and one and ultimately reconnected in Miami to realize their dream of forming the first all-Cuban timba group in America.

Ticketed Performances

Dorrance Dance


MacArthur “Genius” award winner, choreographer and tap dancer Michelle Dorrance is celebrated for connecting tap's history to contemporary urban culture and infusing the art form with theatricality and humor. Dorrance and her company perform Myelination, featuring original live music; the rarely seen, Bessie Award-winning Three to One; and a revival of the whimsical Jungle Blues, in a program that connects tap back to its roots in jazz and jump blues, and forward to the cadences of hip-hop and indie rock. "Dorrance... pushes the boundaries of tap while exposing its true nature: that it is music" (The New York Times).

No Kids

Ad Infinitum

Should we have kids, or not? George and Nir are a real-life same-sex couple trying to answer a question many of us face. Every consideration—adoption, surrogacy, co-parenting, the environmental impact of childbirth, the fears and anxieties, how the past affects parenting and much, much more—brings with it a succession of ethical challenges. Together, George and Nir confront this chaos head-on. And invite you along for the ride. No Kids is the latest energetic, hilarious, moving and thought-provoking play from the multi award-winning Bristol-based company, Ad Infinitum.


What Will Have Been

Circa has traveled to over 39 countries in the past 15 years, selling out venues, bringing audiences to standing ovations and inviting praise from reviewers around the globe. As a leading contemporary circus, Circa is a trailblazer of daring physical and emotional performances, pushing limits and challenging the limits of genre. Yaron Lifschitz, artistic director, joins his vision with the skills of his noteworthy cohort of talented circus artists. In addition to performing shows internationally, Circa also runs a Training Centre in their Brisbane studio with classes for all ages and provides circus programs to Australian communities regularly.

Quantum Sound

A Live Performance of Superconducting Instruments

The Yale Quantum Institute successfully launched its artist-in-residence program in the summer of 2017. This past October, it introduced Spencer Topel as their second artist-in-residence to continue using art as an exploratory medium in their pursuit of understanding and discussing quantum physics. At YQI, Topel will design sound pieces that are built off of the work of researchers and collaboration between them. The residency may traverse sonification and synthesizing sounds through the manipulation of quantum signals, the analysis of the musical implications of phonon lasers and more with the goal of helping researchers more fully understand their signals, as guided by Topel’s expertise.

Kronos Quartet

Music for Change: The 60’s - The Years That Changed America

Kronos’ current lineup includes violinists David Harrington (founder) and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt, and cellist Sunny Yang. As a quartet, they strive to fearlessly explore new musical territory, dedicated to reinventing the string quartet format with every piece. They have become one of the most praised ensembles of today for their expansive recording repertoire, touring history, and collaborative endeavors. Kronos has earned more than 40 awards, including a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance in 2004. They reimagine the works of 20th-century masters, contemporary composers, jazz legends, rock artists and even more.


Geoff Sobelle and Beth Morrison Projects

A house party where the whole audience is invited—award-winning absurdist Geoff Sobelle’s visual spectacle is a magical meditation on the meaning of home.

On an empty stage, a house rises before your eyes. People move in, move out. They eat, sleep, love, argue, throw a party—as though everyone who had ever lived in the house was there together, fighting for the fridge. Haunting one habitat, their domestic dance is an overlapping map of successive generations.

Tanya Tagaq

Tanya Tagaq, a limitless musician “committed to forging a new path each time she creates” as Devon Leger of The Seattle Globalist describes her, has channeled primal humanity and spirituality through her music, which has earned her Canada’s 2014 Polaris Prize and multiple Juno Awards. Tagaq blends tradition and culture, pain and bliss, emotions and physicality all together to bring life to her other-worldly music. “It’s also meant to be a bridge between people,” Leger writes. “This is music as a force of change.”

Yale Choral Artists

Voices from New Haven

The Yale Choral Artists perform captivating and deeply moving choral works by living composers known all over the world for their exciting and innovative contributions to new music, and who all share musical roots in New Haven: Caroline Shaw, Christopher Theofanidis, Ingram Marshall, Michael Gilbertson, and Aaron Jay Kernis.

Ideas Talks

Confronting Identity: An Arts & Ideas Fellows Town Hall

It has become a Festival tradition for our high school Festival Fellows to begin our Festival and Ideas program with their own Town Hall. Join them this year as they explore the themes of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, opening up a public discussion examining the importance of one's culture and background, gender, and name.

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

Living for the City

As a Festival Director in Europe and Australia, Jonathan Holloway has repeatedly reinvented the ways in which festivals explore, reclaim and celebrate their city for all those who use it, from the traditional custodians of the land to the latest arrivals, and all the people in between.

400 Years of Inequality: A People’s Observance for a Just Future

2019 is the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to be sold into bondage in North America in 1619 at Jamestown. Mindy Fullilove, MD and representatives of the 400 Years of Inequality coalition share stories of oppression and resistance.

Anthropocene: Staging The Future

An·thro·po·cene: /ˈanTHrəpəˌsēn/ the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

Internationally acclaimed theater director and creator Thaddeus Phillips will talk about the underpinnings, the basis and challenge of his new theatrical adventure, ANTROPOCENO - a new work that begins development for the Teatro de La Abadía in Madrid, Spain in June of 2019.

Cities of Peace: Healing the Trauma of Conflict Through Art

Ellen Frank and Luciana McClure

Join visionary and inspiring leaders, Dr. Ellen Frank—founder Cities of Peace, an innovative peace and visual arts program that honors the history and culture of world cities that have suffered trauma and strife and multi visual artist, photographer and educator, Luciana McClure— for a conversation on how healing, dignity and understanding of seemingly different cultures is possible.

Data-Driven Sounds

Together musicians Kaki King, Spencer Topel, and Jay Alan Zimmerman share how they are using data not just to make sounds but to see and experience music.

Stonewall at 50

How do we honor this landmark in a struggle that began before the “first brick was thrown” and still continues? How do we tribute the indignation, outrageousness (fabulousness) and complexity of ALL those present 50 years ago – without retroactively endowing them with certainty or cohesion or de-problematizing their differences? An informal talk with award winning playwright Ain Gordon and rural queer/trans organizer HB Lozito.

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

Author! Author! A Conversation with Michael Childers

presented in partnership with the Beinecke Library

Celebrated photo portraitist Michael Childers will share anecdotes about his work and interactions with notable writers. Childers makes all of his subjects look fabulous, especially his literary friends, who make up a focused show, Author! Author!, on view this summer at the Beinecke Library, along with the exhibition, Life of the Party: Jerome Zerbe and the Social Photograph.

We Knew Haven: A Youth Activist Perspective

featuring New Haven Youth Activists Mia Joseph, Lihame Arouna, Kelly Pinots, and Shawn Murray

Featuring New Haven Youth Activists asking the questions: What do you imagine your New Haven to look like? How do you feel your identity is connected to your activism? What are youth activists doing to combat gentrification, racism, over-surveillance downtown?

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

Keepers of the Culture

presented with the New Haven Hip-Hop Conference

Supreme Easy A.D. of the Legendary Cold Crush Brothers and Nikki D the first female emcee signed to Def Jam Records engage in an in-depth conversation sharing a rare glimpse into the birth of Hip Hop as a culture & their inside perspectives of Hip Hop's contribution to the world and the music industry.

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

Habits to Heal: Exploring Practices for Mindfulness and Wellness

Improved resilience and health. Enhanced ability to manage stress and anxiety. Through mindful awareness, we can avoid being on “auto-pilot,” and more often consciously choose how we live. And there is good scientific evidence that mindful practices help us to be more compassionate, toward ourselves and others. Area experts Shirley Chock, Dr. Ginger Nash, and Hanifa Nayo Washington share healing habits that we can all experience ourselves.

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

Keep Dining In

Alison Roman is known as much for her keeper recipes as her wry Instagram voice and effortless style. Roman’s recipes set today’s trends and will show up as tomorrow’s classics: vegetable-forward with quality ingredients, punctuated by standout flavors like hot honey browned butter, preserved lemon, za’atar, and garlicky walnuts.

NEXT Presents The Cities Project: New Life For New England’s Industrial Past

John Dankosky, Elihu Rubin, Cathy Stanton, Nico Wheadon, and John Thomas

New England is filled with old factory buildings and other remnants of our industrial history. This built environment is one of our distinguishing characteristics, but it also provides challenges as our cities grow and adapt. How do we best reuse spaces that contain cultural importance?

Split Tooth

Tanya Tagaq

Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.
A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents’ love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world.

Without Habits: A Path to Purpose

We spend so much energy trying to cultivate healthier habits. But what might our days feel like if, instead, we question and cut out just one habit for a short period of time? What discomfort might manifest when social media, sugar, or instant self-deprecating thought are gone from our days? How might we face that space? With time, how might our physical, social, and inner lives transform? With insight from experts in neuroscience, psychology, medicine, art, and design, Jacqueline Raposo, author of The Me, Without, guides how reframing habits can lead to healing, happiness, and a purposeful personal path.

Collision: Hong Kong Art in New Haven

Join Yale-China Arts Fellows Sarah Xiao (dance) and Nicole Pun (visual art) as they share how their residency in New Haven has shaped their art.

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

Words Reclaiming Worlds

featuring New Haven / Northeast writers and spoken word artists Keona-Marie, Duke Porter, Yexandra Diaz, and Paul Bryant Hudson

Poets and other creative writers from the northeastern United States share poems and conversation about the shifting relationship between identity and place. How can poets and other culture creators challenge or shift the identity of a place? How can a place challenge or shift our own intersecting identities?

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >

How The Art of Experience Empowers Culture Change

In the Age of Experience, how can one drive actionable social change through deepened physical and digital live story-sharing systems? A leader in immersive experiences, Mikhael Tara Garver will delve into the combining powers that experience, entertainment, and fandom can have on empowering social change.

Ideas talks are going on all Festival long! Read our advice on how to get the most from these explorative conversations >