Berklee Invades Newport Folk Festival

By 
Nick Balkin
July 20, 2016
The Berklee Instant Strings. From left: Emily Baker, five-string fiddle; Kathleen Parks, fiddle; Cristobal Cruz Garcia, cello; Carolyn Kendrick, fiddle; Joe Walsh, mandolin.
Image credit: Nicole Dillman

For the fourth year in a row, the Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir will perform at the Newport Folk Festival. Led by assistant professor Nichelle Mungo, the choir will open the festival’s main Fort Stage on Sunday, July 24.

Meanwhile, making its Newport debut, the Berklee Instant Strings, a student ensemble led by Berklee faculty member and mandolinist Joe Walsh, will perform with festival artists Aoife O’Donovan on Friday, July 22, and Margo Price on Saturday, July 23.

The Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir, a 12-piece vocal ensemble backed by a 14-piece band, melds gospel and roots with blues and jazz improvisation. At the 2014 festival, the group joined Hozier on stage to perform “Work Song," and in 2013, Paste invited the choir to perform in the “Paste Ruins,” the media outlet’s onsite headquarters within Fort Adams for the festival.

The Berklee Instant Strings, a new project from the mind of Darol Anger, associate professor of strings, collaborates with artists and musical directors to create and perform string arrangements for its songs. The group is composed of some of Berklee’s finest string players: Kathleen Park, fiddle; Carolyn Kendrick, fiddle; Emily Baker, five-string fiddle; and Cristobal Cruz Garcia, cello.