This month students at Powell Magnet Elementary were treated to a special one-time school project grant from United Arts where students took their magnet theme, “Play and Ingenuity,” to “harp!” They learned how to make working harps from cardboard, metal, wood, brightly colored paint, and nylon strings with professional musicians Larry Bellorín and Joe Troop. On the last day, the students and their new harps performed for the school with Larry and Joe.
Throughout the five-day residency, Larry (who speaks only Spanish) and Joe intertwined stories about harps, indigenous maracas, and the history and culture of Latin American music. Each day ended with a mini-performance from Larry and Joe featuring their signature Appalachian-Venezuelan fusion music. Both are versatile multi-instrumentalists and singer-songwriters on a mission to show that music has no borders.
“I cannot thank you enough for this opportunity,” said Gina Ali, Powell Magnet Elementary’s Orchestra Director. “The fifth-graders had such a memorable experience! They made such a connection with Larry and Joe and every session ended with just singing, laughing, and dancing. They loved it and were so proud of what they created! THANK YOU! “
Larry hails from Monagas, Venezuela and is a legend of Llanera music. Joe Troop is from North Carolina and is a GRAMMY-nominated bluegrass and old-time musician. As a duo they perform a fusion of Venezuelan and Appalachian folk music on harp, banjo, cuatro, fiddle, maracas, guitar, upright bass, and whatever else they decide to throw in the van. The program they offer features a distinct blend of their musical inheritances and traditions as well as storytelling about the ways that music and social movements coalesce.
The student-made harps will remain at the school and be used for future programming. They are hoping the duo will come back to make music with a new group of fifth-graders next year on the harps they made this year. Although this project is unique to this school, Larry and Joe are available to all schools through their Artists in Schools performance titled Music Beyond Borders: Llanera, Joropo, Bluegrass with Larry & Joe.
If their name sounds familiar, Larry and Joe are recent headliners for our Big Night In for the Arts! They are also celebrating the release of their debut album, Nuevo South Train, on March 24 at Durham Fruit. Their bilingual program in English and Spanish features virtuosic folk fusion music, storytelling, humor, dancing, and singalongs. It will be a family-friendly event… for all ages! Música para todos! More info HERE