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Hear, Here!


Hear Here 2021 is postponed until further notice. 






Hear Here 2020









Flamenco Dancer Lindsey Bourassa
Bri Lane
Co-produced by DJ Matt Perry
(United Nations Refugee Day Video)
Written by Con Fullam
Performed by Shy
"Umutagara" + "Intore"
Rwandan Drummers and Dancers
"Head Back Home"
The Jason Spooner Band
USM Chamber Singers
Conducted by Nicolás Alberto Dosman
Written by Haitian-American Compers Sydney Guillame
"Lime Butterfly" + "Common Rose"
Dominic Lavoie
"Fallin'" + "Coffin"
"Be in Love"
Written by Dominic Lavoie
Performed by Ensemble
Drum Solo
Franchely Benazo
Drum Circle Finale
Annegret Baier, Jai SanGiovanni, Mike Moody et al
Christopher Akerlind, Lighting Designer
Michael Danahy, Localmotives/WMPG
Steve Drown, Maine College of Art
Charlie Gaylord, Greetings 207
Maurice Habimfura, Ikirenga cy'Intore
Sam Mateosian, Big Room Studios
Peter McLaughlin, SPACE
Russ Pooler, Headlight AV
Jai SanGiovanni, drum circle
Ian Smith, Sun Tiki Studios
Cindy Thompson, Transformit
Riley Watts, Portland Dance Month


The City of Portland • The Crewe Foundation • David E. Shaw


Headlight AV •  Transformit  
University of Southern Maine • Coffee By Design • The Press Hotel


Justin + Rachel Alfond •  Sam Mateosian • Dorthea + Leo Rabkin Foundation
Betsy + Christopher Hunt • Mary Allen Lindemann • Karen McDonald


Hear Here 2019


What an AMAZING event and an inspired idea to start. It gave me goose pimples to see and hear all these fabulous artists that are right here in Portland. The audience was electrified. Every performer was over the top, but when the Burundi drummers came on, I nearly fell out of my seat.The afternoon was a huge gift to the city, and you have taken Creative Portland to a level somewhere up in the ether with (Governor) Janet and (Congresswoman) Chellie cheering it all on. 

--- Alison Hildreth, artist & lifelong Portland community activist



“Fanfare for a Festive Occasion” by James Olcott 
Performed by PSO’s Betty Rines with USM students Max Richardson & Ryan LePage
“Hear Me”
Just Plain Jones electronic digital installation with voices from The Telling Room
Sinfonia from Cantata BWV 29 by J. S. Bach 
James Kennerley & the Kotzschmar Organ
Accompanied by Nathan Polhemus, Andrew LaVogue & Palaver Strings
Arrangement by Kevin Oates
Digital effects by Big Room Studios
Battalia by Heinrich Biber 
Palaver Strings
“Hometown” & “On & Off” 
Sarah Violette with Renée Coolbrith 
Digital effects by Big Room Studios
“We are Home”
Batimbo United, Burundi Drummers
Riley Watts
Music by Kingston Trio
“Blue Again” & “Common Blah” 
Weakened Friends
Sizzle Reel & Acknowledgments
A Celebration of Portland’s Arts & Cultural Diversity
Mayor Ethan Strimling
“Ballad of the 20th Maine”
Written by Griffin Sherry (Ghost of Paul Revere) 
Ensemble arrangement by Kevin Oates


Hear Here!
Hear what’s happening right now as we celebrate the performing arts in Portland!
Beyond lobsters and lighthouses, Portland has become a sizzling arts hub. The music scene is bursting with excellence in all genres from classical to pop, while local performing arts inspire feelings of belonging, community, and celebration through dance, drama, and the written word.
Today we are blessed to call Portland home, whether we have lived here for generations or recently created a home here. Together we’ll weave in and out of our safety zones as we welcome local acts from diverse sensibilities, sounds, and cultures.
Our maestro municipal organist James Kennerley will perform an ode to Bach’s hometown, while newcomer JanaeSound, backed by Palaver Strings, will collaborate on her recent release “Diamonds,” recorded locally at Halo Studios. PSO trumpeter Betty Rines and two of her students from USM will signal the start of our hometown concert, while Portland’s drummers from Burundi, Batimbo United, will shake the house in “We are Home.” Rapper Sarah Violette and Dancer Riley Watts will perform “Hometown” and “Home,” while homie Cam Jones will beat the drums in Weakened Friends, a local band exploding onto the national stage.
We are one! We are home, and we belong here.
Sit back, relax and enjoy! Or stand, clap and dance!
- Dinah Minot
Executive Director, Creative Portland
Artistic Director, Hear Here

MaineBiz Article - Creative Portland's 'Hear Here' concert showcases Maine artists



BATIMBO UNITED - Batimbo United is a group of drummers from Burundi who live in Portland and perform traditional drums and dances for ceremonies, weddings, multi-cultural concerts, and public events, including Governor Janet
Mills’ inaugural celebration. During the monarchy era in the mid-twentieth century, the King of Burundi held the privilege of owning the drums and commissioning them under exceptional circumstances, such as coronations and funerals. The tradition of Burundi’s drummers has been passed down through generations and has been recognized internationally by
Drummers: Yves Karubu, Desire Niyongabo, Steve Niyonkuru, Dieudonne Masabarakiza, Jeanvier Gatavu, Raymond Kubwayo, Carmel Irakoze, Aster Musavyi, Armand Muvunyi, Eric Ndoricimpa, Mupenzi Thomas, Bizimana Albert, Olivier Nkurunziza, Mugisha Audry, Obama Ndayishimiye
“As asylum seekers, we are proud to share our culture with fellow Mainers while we spread our message of loyalty and gratitude to God.”
JANAESOUND - JanaeSound (BMI) harnesses an unforgettable voice that is known to stir the soul. The powerhouse rock singer hails from St. Louis, where she began cultivating her love for music at the tender age of 9 through the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Known for her focus and drive, JanaeSound was tapped to open for FloRida alongside Allen Gates at the 2017 NOW 96.3 NOW Night Out. JanaeSound has appeared at the Heart Soul & Substance Festival, Sunaana Winter Music Festival, Bitter End, The Mint, AllRoads Music Festival, and Harvest Moon Festival. 
“Portland has a vibrant and welcoming music scene. I am beyond grateful to
be surrounded by such talented artists and to call Portland home.”
RENÉ GODDESS JOHNSON - Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and raised in the suburbs of Portland, René Goddess Johnson has spent the last 27 years becoming an equity consultant, director, producer, artist, educator, dancer, choreographer, and theater founder. A queer, black, female refugee, her career in the arts has focused on weaving these intersections into her daily life and work environments. She continues to sculpt her interactive one-woman show, g e e l, where she invites audience participation throughout the show, destroying the illusion of a fourth wall. An enthusiastic teacher, she has designed several educational and performance programs to focus on disparities in minority communities and how to shift them towards a more inclusive language and operation. She serves as a member of The Celebration Barn Theater, Black Artist Forum, The Third Place, and the Lorem Ipsum Theater Collective and is a contributor for Black Girl in Maine Media.
“Arriving as a refugee 27 years ago, to a white covered land with more white people then I had ever imagined, felt unreal. My child self never dreamed I would be living here as a 34 year old, multidisciplinary performance artist, community organizer, and racial justice warrior alongside other People of Color who are also creating history.”
JUST PLAIN JONES - Just Plain Jones is the artistic alter ego of producer-rapper-singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Patrick Jones. His music weaves together sounds and themes from across the American musical lexicon and pairs them with sharp and witty songwriting. Originally from Washington DC, Jones moved to Portland with all intent to quit music in favor of a new creative outlet. Instead, he found a supportive and close- knit community of musicians, inspiring him to release his 2017 EP, Bright, and begin teaching digital music production to high school students in the greater Portland area. His latest single, “Find Your Peace,” is socially aware, danceable track, and his composition today integrates voices from students at The Telling
“I moved to Maine to be with my family, and ended up finding my purpose. I now get to make music that is genuinely mine, and mentor young and upcoming musicians.”
JAMES KENNERLEY & THE KOTZSCHMAR ORGAN - James Kennerley has been called “the greatest improviser of his generation.” He has performed for the Queen of England three times and was a prizewinner at the 2008 Albert Schweitzer International Organ Competition. In 2017, James was unanimously voted to be the 11th Municipal Organist of the City of Portland. Only one other city in the country has such a position. James wants to bring a new audience in to hear the magnificent Kotzschmar Organ, which is designed to replicate the sounds of an entire orchestra and has five keyboards - including one on the foot pedals - as well as 225 ‘stops’ that he pushes and pulls to make various sounds. James is also Organist and Choirmaster at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church, Music Director of Ars Musica Chorale and the New Jersey State Children’s Chorus, and keyboardist with New Vintage Baroque. He is also an accomplished tenor and a prize-winning composer, specializing in music for organ and choral ensembles, and for works that incorporate historic instruments.
“I adore Portland - the food, the weather, the arts scene, the people. It’s an amazing city.”
PALAVER STRINGS - Palaver Strings is a musician-led string ensemble founded in Boston in 2014. The ensemble is in the process of relocating to Portland where it will perform, offer workshops, and launch an afterschool music program. The name “Palaver” comes from the term for a place of discussion and conflict resolution in Liberian culture. The ensemble is driven by collaborative processes, and each member shares a passion for taking classical music beyond the concert hall to engage with new and diverse audiences. In these unconventional settings, the group strives to use music to address social issues, promote education and healing, and inspire support of the arts. Palaver has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Hammond Concert Series, Carnegie Hall, and has toured the East and West Coasts of the United States. Palaver is in its second season as Ensemble in Residence at the Boston Center for the Arts and continues its long standing residency at Bay Chamber Concerts.
Musicians - Violin: Su Yin Chan, Josie Davis, Sophie Davis*, Maya French, Jesse MacDonald, Ryan Shannon; Viola: Brianna Fischler, Lysander Jaffe, Elizabeth Moore; Cello: Ben Noyes*, Matthew Smith; Bass: Nate Martin
*denotes guest musician
“We feel so excited and inspired to be transitioning to Portland, Maine, to begin our residency as a performance and music education organization. We can’t wait to work with families, audiences, and other Portland based artists who bring such a diverse array of knowledge and experience.”
BETTY RINES - Betty Barber Rines began teaching trumpet at the University of Southern Maine in the fall of 1999. She has held the position of 2nd trumpet with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and has been a member of the Portland Brass Quintet since 1985. Ms. Rines has also taught at Bowdoin College, Phillips-Exeter Academy, Waynflete School, and the Portland Conservatory. She studied at Onondage Community College, earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education at the Crane School of Music, and received her Master of Music in Trumpet Performance at the Boston University School for the Arts.
“I got the job with the symphony, fell in love with Maine, fell in love, and
have stayed ever since.”
SARAH VIOLETTE - Sarah Violette, formerly known as Lady Essence, is a veteran hip hop artist from Portland, Maine. In 2014, Violette was the recipient of the New England Music Awards Hip Hop Act of the Year and her most recent EP, AnxiousLove, was released on March 16th, 2018, with great reception. Currently working under P.Dank
records, Violette has worked with artists such as Spose, Shane Reis, Alyssa Marie, Renée Coolbrith, and Binary Star. You can find Sarah Violette’s work on all major digital platforms. She is joined today by Renée Coolbrith, a favorite collaborator.
“Portland is home to an incredibly diverse music community. Being able to watch so many artists and musicians (including myself) flourish and grow over the past ten years has been amazing.”
VIVA - Viva & The Reinforcements delivers spicy cosmopolitan grooves, balancing the zest of burlesque with classic standards to create their own brand of Next Deco Jazz. Viva likes her coffee black, her tequila neat, her men strong, and her women stronger. Backed by an ever-changing fleet of the jazz elite, she’ll slide her way into your fondest memories with just a flick of her hips.
“Portland is my mother, expecting me to reach my potential and always giving me the opportunities and love to do so.”
RILEY WATTS - Riley Watts is a dance artist, arts advisor, choreographer, and teacher based in Portland. In the last decade, dance has brought Riley to more than 30 countries around the world while dancing professionally with The Forsythe Company, Sylvie Guillem, Netherlands Dance Theater 2, Bern Ballet, and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. As an active member of the arts ecology in Maine, Riley founded Portland Dance Month in the fall of 2018, has served on the Advisory Committee and as Artist-in-Residence at Bates Dance Festival, is on the Bangor Ballet Board of Directors, and is a Performance Advisor for SPACE. Riley received his dance training at Thomas School of Dance, Bangor Ballet, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and The Juilliard School. He is currently on a world tour dancing in William Forsythe’s A Quiet Evening of Dance, produced by Sadler’s Wells Theater, London.
“The life of a performing artist is both beautiful and challenging; to dance for work is indescribably rewarding and also requires that I travel for more than half the year to perform, choreograph, and teach. After each of my trips, the deep relief I feel when I return home to Portland is something I would not be able to get anywhere else in the world. It’s the feeling of coming home.
Home is about the complexities of building a lifestyle around movement: traveling, creativity, inspiration, and excitement - as well as lonely hotels, crowded planes, jet lag, isolation, and distance. I dedicate this performance to my parents and to Maine, where I am so lucky to call home.”
WEAKENED FRIENDS - Weakened Friends was founded by songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Sonia Sturino, bassist Annie Hoffman, and Portland native drummer Cam Jones in 2015. As the group released two independent EPs, they stirred up a palpable buzz. Gigs followed with everyone from CHVRCHES and Silversun Pickups to Beach Slang and Juliana Hatfield as they made their debut at SXSW and earned praise from Vanyaland, CBS, and many more. In 2017, they were crowned the Unsigned Artist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards and Best Indie Act at the Portland Music Awards. Common Blah is Weakened Friends’ debut full-length album. Engineered and produced by Hoffman and perfected over the last year, many of the songs reckon with the feeling of being young, stuck, and settling for less, and use instrumental and emotional volume to reassert a sense of control.
“Portland is our home, we tour a lot and when people ask us where we’re from we proudly say Portland Maine. After explaining, ‘no the other Portland,’ we always like to explain why we stay in such a small town, and the short answer is frankly because it’s awesome.”


The City of Portland • The Crewe Foundation • David E. Shaw


AV Technik •  Headlight AV • Transformit
Knack Factory • News Center Maine
Coffee By Design • The Press Hotel
State Theatre • Bayside Bowl • Infinity Federal Credit Union