Halcyon Arts debuts with new world music concert series

Halcyon Arts debuts with new world music concert series

For Farah Siraj of Jordan, music is ‘medium for peace’

BELLOWS FALLS — Stone Church Arts has ended, but a new entity, Halcyon Arts, has picked up its legacy of presenting music from around the world and close at home.

According to a news release, the Vestry at Immanuel Episcopal Church in Bellows Falls voted at the end of August to discontinue the cultural center's concerts and other programming for financial reasons.

“The pandemic certainly ended our income and, from a financial point of view, this makes sense. However, it is a great cultural loss for the community,” wrote Robert “Beau” Bowler, whose job as the arts center's executive director was also discontinued at the time.

Bowler also served as the former parish administrator at Immanuel Episcopal until 2019 and now holds that same title at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Easthampton, Mass. and the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield, Mass.

“I woke up on Sept. 1 with the name Halcyon Arts on my heart and mind,” wrote Bowler. “I just did not have the heart to stop this ministry of presenting world music and world spirituality, into which I have poured my heart, in Bellows Falls since 2006.”

“So I plan to continue presenting concerts, workshops, and retreats at various venues, mostly churches and retreat centers, in western Massachusetts,” he said.

A musician and a humanitarian

Halcyon Arts launches a “world music at home” series with a streaming concert on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m., with Jordan's musical ambassadress, Farah Siraj.

Siraj approaches music as a medium for peace and a way to lend a voice to people around the world who need to be heard. She fuses her influences of Middle Eastern music, flamenco, jazz, bossa, and pop in her music.

She leads an ethnically diverse quintet of Arabian Flamenco Jazz, with world-class musicians from the Southwest Asia, Europe, the United States, and South America. During her tour of India, Siraj shared the stage with renowned composer A.R. Rahman, of India, performing “Zariya” live on MTV. The song hit number one in the music charts in India and number 3 in Southwest Asia.

As a humanitarian, Siraj focuses on raising awareness about the consequences of war and violence and advocates for women's rights, refugee rights and animal rights.

In recognition of her humanitarian efforts, she was invited to perform at the United Nations Humanitarian Awards, and her music was played before the United Nations Security Council before passing a legislation regarding the genocide in Darfur.

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