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Sunday Night Unplugged to feature Paul Roberts

Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy Amanda Duval Paul Roberts will play a variety of instruments, including this sarod, during Sunday Night Unplugged, this Sunday at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.

Photo courtesy Amanda Duval
Paul Roberts will play a variety of instruments, including this sarod, during Sunday Night Unplugged, this Sunday at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.

This Sunday evening at 5 p.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will offer their monthly Sunday Night Unplugged service of music and meditation featuring local artist, Paul Roberts.

Sunday Night Unplugged has become an anticipated monthly escape to a period of coveted sound and silence, a time to meditate, to sit quietly, listen, and pray.

This month’s artist, Paul Roberts, is well known to our local community for his unique talent in the art of performing on ancient stringed instruments and for his creative leadership as founder and director of Elation Center for the Arts, a non-profit organization that provides community concerts as well as classes in folk music and dance.

Paul has performed in over 2,000 concerts at elementary schools. He has contributed to the awareness of the therapeutic effects of music through his work as a music therapist in psychiatric treatment facilities.

“Paul has unique musical abilities that we are uniquely blessed to enjoy,” says Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “I have been mesmerized by his musicianship and his ability to actually play instruments that, heretofore, I have only read about. He brings these sounds to life, taking us to exotic worlds of sounds that allow us to reach beyond our normal space and time.”

This Sunday evening, Roberts will perform on two beautiful and fascinating instruments from the East and on one from American antiquity. The sarod and sitar, from India, are plucked string instruments with beautiful tones. The cello banjo is a mellow-sounding, little-known instrument that had a brief presence in our nation’s history.

The artist has a long and unique background in his knowledge of Eastern stringed instruments. Beginning his study of sitar in 1967, he traveled to India in 1970 to study with a leading sitarist, Ustad Rais Khan, whose lineage goes back to the court musicians of the Mughal Emperors.

The sarod, along with the sitar, is a popular instrument in Hindustani classical music. The sarod is known for a deep, weighty, introspective sound, in contrast with the sweet, overtone-rich texture of the sitar. It is a fretless instrument able to produce the continuous slides between notes known as meend (glissandi), an important characteristic of Indian music. On sitar and sarod, Roberts will play raga improvisations.

Paul’s quest for musical knowledge and discovery has not ebbed over the years. The cello banjo recently became available after almost a century of near-extinction. “It was quite a revelation for me when the cello banjo popped out of nowhere into my life,” says Roberts. “The cello banjo has a very expressive, low-pitched tone that bears no resemblance to the sound of a bluegrass banjo.”

Roberts combines his interests composing original music, improvisation, and arranging ancient music using the cello banjo. He will play a selection of his original compositions: “Efrosini” is an exotic piece marinated in Mediterranean spice. “A Promise of Spring” expresses the inward sensibility of winter looking towards the glorious transformation of nature that follows. “A New Coat of Paint” is Paul’s latest tune. “Leaves” is a fantasy of swirling, uplifting melody and rhythm.

Sunday Night Unplugged is a monthly offering by St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, free of charge to the public. The service combines the talents of local musicians with opportunities for reflection and meditation. St. Patrick’s is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.

For more information, call 731-5801.

This story was posted on February 7, 2013.