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By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
This Sunday at 5 p.m., Sunday Night Unplugged will feature the mystical sounds of seldom-heard stringed instruments, expertly played by local artist Paul Roberts.
Sunday Night Unplugged is a monthly offering of music and meditation and is open to the public free of charge at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. The service provides a welcome respite from busy lives, offering the soothing sounds of beautiful music combined with spiritual readings and periods of silence.
Paul Roberts is a well-known and cherished member of the musical community in Pagosa Springs. He arrived here in 1995, bringing with him his passion, his expertise, and his long-practiced ability to play a wide variety of instruments from around the world. He has been an important part of the fabric of the Pagosa Springs musical community, helping to promote other local musicians, organizing performance opportunities and offering arts education in the schools.
Paul is known for his collection of beautiful and exotic instruments, any of which he can readily pick up and play. Sunday’s offerings will include music on a variety of fairly obscure and seldom-heard musical instruments, including the mandocello, the cello banjo, the sitar, and an instrument designed by Roberts called the Soundbird.
The mandocello, a member of the mandolin family, and the cello banjo, a member of the banjo family, are both tuned like a cello. Like the cello, these two instruments are larger and have a richer and more mellow sound than their smaller counterparts. The Soundbird is a banjo strung with nylon strings. The sitar, an ancient lute from India, renders a uniquely beautiful and mystical sound. Paul’s beautiful sitar is not only expertly played, but is esthetically lovely to see and hear.
In 1962, at age 16, Paul plunged into the California folk music scene as a bluegrass banjo picker and has been on a musical odyssey ever since. He has contributed to the awareness of the therapeutic effects of music through his work as a music therapist. Those who attend this Sunday’s Sunday Night Unplugged will discover first hand how Roberts’ music can soothe the soul.
“I have always considered it quite a wonderful thing that Paul Roberts, with his extensive musical knowledge and skills, has chosen to make his home in Pagosa Springs. Paul always brings a special aura of peace and beauty to our Sunday Night Unplugged meditational services and I look forward to every opportunity to hear him play,” says Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “We invite anyone and everyone to join us each month for Sunday Night Unplugged. It’s a gift you will give to yourself.”