BOWIE – The Fairwood Arts Festival brought together jazz, inspirational music and blues performers to expose residents to the necessity of the arts in the community. The Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Division hosted the Fairwood Arts Festival on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Fairwood Community Park. The free […]
BOWIE – The Fairwood Arts Festival brought together jazz, inspirational music and blues performers to expose residents to the necessity of the arts in the community.
The Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Division hosted the Fairwood Arts Festival on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Fairwood Community Park. The free festival featured live performances, art and food vendors, and children’s activities, while other participants brought lawn chairs and blankets to celebrate local music and the artists.
The list of performers included Rob White, Lorenzo Miller, Akua Allrich, Upton Blues Band, and the Largo High School choir.
Jazz Vocalist Akua Allrich said that the arts are extremely important and are something that she is passionate about as a teacher as well. Allrich teaches music and the arts to elementary and middle school students at a private school in Washington D.C. She describes her music as a mixture of soul, blues and pan-African sounds.
“The audience was really receptive and I got a lot of good feedback,” Allrich said. “We get so bogged down with life in general, so this is a way to express ourselves in a productive way, to open up and get through life without stress. I think it gives me air and often times you have a passion for something but can’t do it. As an adult I’m glad to have the opportunity to express myself through the arts.”
She performed several original songs from her albums and some songs that the audience was familiar with. This is her first time at the Fairwood Arts Festival and she wanted the crowd to feel uplifted and energized when they heard her music.
The Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation provides comprehensive park and recreation programs, facilities and services, which respond to changing needs within the community. The department strives to preserve, enhance and protect open spaces to enrich the quality of life for present and future generations in a safe and secure environment.
Kirsten Hein, countywide arts coordinator, said the county had three arts events during the summer, combining the arts with singers and food vendors. The mission of this year’s event was to bring an audience to the park so they knew the department is having free performances in the community provided by and sponsored by Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
“We’ve always had a focus on the arts because we have such amazing facilities where we can offer a great experience to the community by bringing together various programming, classes and festivals,” Hein said. “The event was great and the performances were amazing. The people loved it and found out about it through our other events that we did. The arts vendors are having a great time selling their work and the crowd thought it was fantastic. We just had the Largo High School choir and that had great feedback.”
Brandon Felder, Largo High School music director, is a Bowie resident who came to one of the concert series events last month held by the department of parks and recreation and could not wait to be apart of the next event. The choir has previously performed at the grand opening of Tanger Outlets, an event at Largo Town Center, and most recently did a Spring Showcase at the school. The choir’s theme at the arts festival was inspiration and believing within yourself.
“We had a huge desire to partner in our community with the department of parks and recreation for an event just like this,” Felder said. “There are possibilities for internships for the students that they would love. Anything that helps to lift our students so that they know there are other opportunities not only musically, artistically and culturally, but just positive experiences within their own community that they may not have been exposed to.”
Felder is constantly looking for other positive curricular things that the students can take out of the classroom. He enjoys giving his students different styles of music such as show tunes, jazz and inspirational. Felder enjoyed the choir’s singing so much that at one point he leapt off the stage that was six feet or higher.
“We are very early in the year and we only had four and a half practices, so once we got to that final selection, “I feel your spirit,” let’s just say I took a leap of joy off the stage,” Felder said. “The leap was a sigh of relief that we made it through the performance.”
The choir will be taking part of a 30-day music festival at Ithaca College in New York and basketball fans can catch the choir performing at the Washington Wizards half time show and at beginning the game singing the national anthem.
Next year, the MNCPPC plans to reach out to more artists and audience members so more people know about the numerous things happening at the concert series events and will continue to spread the word about it as well.