An event at the Opera highlights different cultures | News, Sports, Jobs

FAIRMONT- This Saturday, the Fairmont Opera House will host Fairmont Festivál; a celebration of Latin American culture. In addition to the regular Opera staff, a committee of Fairmont residents representing Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela also participated in the planning of this event.

The event is for all members of the community.

“The Opera is a place for everyone; It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what you look like, what country you’re from, it doesn’t matter. Art, music, dance and experiences like this are for everyone. I’m a Dunnell Farm kid and I run this place; if it was for a specific type of person, I wouldn’t be allowed here,” said Fairmont Opera House Executive Director Blake Potthoff.

The event will include a concert by LADAMA, an ensemble of women from all over the Americas. It will also include samples of Latin American cuisine prepared by members of the Fairmont community.

LADAMA members come from four different countries; Brazil, Colombia, United States and Venezuela. The band’s music is a pan-American fusion that combines elements and techniques from a wide range of styles and genres across both continents. Their songs feature both traditional acoustic instruments from their respective countries and modern synthesizers. In their performances, the members of the group take turns as the lead singer and outside of their performances, they lead workshops for young people and public music-making events. The band’s music has received very positive reviews from publications such as the Boston Globe and National Public Radio.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. and will consist of two 45-minute sets separated by a 15-minute intermission. It will be preceded and followed by community gatherings in the salon of the Opera. Committee members will also prepare samples of traditional foods from their respective countries that will be available during these times.

In addition to food, the Opera will have its bar open to prepare specialty drinks from Latin America. The first session will begin at 5 p.m. and will continue until the concert begins at 7 p.m. The second will begin immediately after the end of the concert and will continue until around midnight.

The event was made possible in part by two grants, the first of which was a small town grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), a regional nonprofit that funds economic and community development programs. early childhood, as well as cultural initiatives. According to information on the SMIF website, the explicit purpose of the grant was to enable the Opera to “add community and cultural events in conjunction with their shows to create a more welcoming experience for all members of the community.”

The Opera also received funding from Arts Midwest, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that funds arts programs in the Midwest region. In 2019, the Opera was selected as one of the hosts for a concert series which was to feature four different performers from four different countries over a two-year period. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Opera House was only able to host one of these performances and in response, Arts Midwest dispersed a portion of the series’ remaining funds to fund this event.

Potthoff encouraged people to attend the event even if it’s not something they would normally be interested in.

“We want people to get out of their comfort zone because that’s the only way to keep growing. We can become better, more productive members of societies by saying, “I’m not comfortable right now, but this is an opportunity to learn.” said Potthoff.

LADAMA will perform once at the Opera. Tickets for the event are available online and at the door on Saturday.

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James C. Tibbs