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Mission Hill Arts Festival brings live music to Roxbury

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Mission Hill Arts Festival brings live music to Roxbury
Drummer Tyson Jackson and vibraphonist Sasha Berliner. PHOTO: COURTESY MISSION HILL ARTS FESTIVAL

The soothing sounds of live music are wafting through Roxbury all summer during the Mission Hill Arts Festival, a series of six events throughout the summer, including a concert series at The YARD at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury. Presented by the Mission Hill Arts Festival partially in partnership with Celebrity Series of Boston, the festival will bring together the Mission Hill neighborhood through music, movement and spoken word.

The Mission Hill Arts Festival was founded in 2021 by Luisa Harris as a way to safely bring communities together in the wake of COVID-19. This year, the festival’s theme is “Interconnections,” meant to underscore how valuable it can be when people of different backgrounds come together. In keeping with that theme, the six performances offer a diverse set of artists and experience from reggae to spoken word and intentional movement to the strums of a string quartet.


“Working in partnership with community organizations pools our resources and knowledge to broaden community outreach and expand to new audiences,” says Robin Baker, Celebrity Series of Boston’s associate director of community engagement.

The festival culminates in performances by bandleaders Tyson Jackson and Gregory Groover Jr. Versatile drummer Jackson will perform contemporary jazz with his quartet and vibraphonist Sasha Berliner. Groover will explore the tradition of Negro Spirituals in American music, incorporating hip-hop, blues and jazz rhythms into his own interpretations of the sacred songs.

“We’re thrilled to co-present Tyson Jackson and Gregory Groover Jr. in concert as bandleaders … and the Nebulous Quartet featuring cellist and vocalist Kely Pinheiro — a young string ensemble that we know new and returning audiences will love,” says Baker.

Nebulous Quartet featuring cellist and vocalist Kely Pinheiro, center. PHOTO: COURTESY MISSION HILL ARTS FESTIVAL

In addition to viewing the performances, audiences can engage in conversations with the artists and the festival collaborators. As Boston reawakens  after COVID-19 shutdowns, the festival provides a space for the community to come together, enjoy unique local music and celebrate the arts in unison. This festival focuses on performances and physical interactions in a common space to underscore the importance of being together. The YARD at the Tobin Community Center is an outdoor venue that provides accessibility, ambience and safety.

“An artistic gathering should stimulate the artistic essence of the audience, creating the circumstances to alert them to ways they can create greatness for themselves and others,” says Luisa Harris, the festival’s executive curator. “It’s a way to defeat anxiety and mediocrity while cultivating and encouraging harmony.”