RESTON, VA — The annual Reston Multicultural Festival will take on a new look in a new location (Reston Town Center) in 2022. Reston Community Center (RCC) is expanding its partnership with the National Council of Traditional Arts (NCTA) to feature a special lineup of NEA National Heritage Fellows, recipients of the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
The Fellows, including New Orleans’ Treme Brass Band, Capoeira Master Jelon Vieira and soul pioneer William Bell, will perform at the Festival in Reston Town Square Park on Saturday, September 17. The Reston Multicultural Festival will take place between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and it will also feature master craft artists who will talk about and demonstrate their art. Garage parking at Reston Town Center is free on Saturdays.
The Heritage Fellows performances mark the 10th year of RCC’s partnership with NCTA and the 40th year of the NEA Fellowships program. Including the 2022 class, the Arts Endowment has awarded 467 National Heritage Fellowships since 1982, recognizing artists working in more than 200 distinct art forms.
Fellowship recipients are nominated by the public, often by members of their home communities, and then are judged by a panel of experts in the folk and traditional arts.
”RCC has been presenting the Reston Multicultural Festival for more than 20 years. This year’s special anniversaries offer us an opportunity to design a unique lineup and produce the event in a new setting,” said RCC Board of Governors Chair Bev Cosham. “We are delighted to partner with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) to present the NEA Heritage Fellows, and with Reston Town Center Association (RTCA) to create a memorable day of celebrating the diversity of cultures that makes ours a great nation and Reston the special community we know it to be.”
Participants are urged to come dressed in attire that demonstrates their pride in their cultural roots.
The Reston Multicultural Festival moves to Reston Town Center’s Town Square Park for this special anniversary year with support from the Festival partner, RTCA. “We are thrilled to partner again with RCC to present an amazing collection of artists and artisans for the community’s enjoyment,” said RTCA Executive Director Robert Goudie. “Our longstanding partnership has generated outstanding performances and events for the entire community to enjoy. This year’s Multicultural Festival will continue and extend that terrific partnership. The Festival partners are also appreciative of the generous in-kind support provided by Boston Properties”.
Featured NEA Heritage Fellows include:
Rahim AlHaj, Oud Player and Composer, 2015 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rahim AlHaj is a performer and composer who combines a traditional Iraqi musical foundation with contemporary styling and influences.
William Bell, Soul Singer and Songwriter, 2020 NEA National Heritage Fellow
William Bell is a rhythm and blues pioneer who was the first male solo act signed to Stax Records in Memphis. Bell played a pivotal role in ushering in the genre known as Southern soul music, which later resulted in the globally influential “Memphis Sound.”
Jelon Vieira, Capoeira Master, 2008 NEA National Heritage Fellow
New York, New York
Born in Bahia, Brazil, Mestre Jelon Vieira has been at the forefront of promoting and presenting traditional capoeira through performing, teaching, and providing a wealth of expertise on Brazilian culture to scholars and historians.
Billy McComiskey, Irish Button Accordionist, 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Billy McComiskey is a world-renowned accordion, or “box,” player and composer who won the Irish Echo’s Album of the Year award for his 2008 recording Outside the Box and was their 2011 Traditional Artist of the Year.
The Cambodian American Heritage Troupe, including:
Chum Ngek, Cambodian Musician and Teacher, 2004 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Master Chum Ngek is known for his performing ability on the roneat, a 21-keyed xylophone. Master Chum came to this country in the early 1980s among a wave of Cambodian refugees and has served as a musical and educational leader of his community ever since.
Madame Sam-Oeun Tes, 1998 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Fort Washington, Maryland
Madame Tes was raised on the Cambodian Royal Palace grounds, and came to the U.S. in 1971. When the Khmer Rouge began their reign of terror, she was motivated to train young dancers in the Washington, D.C., area and has worked since the then to preserve the breathtakingly beautiful and ancient art from the Royal Cambodian Court.
TahNibaa Naataanii, Navajo/Diné Textile Artist and Weaver, 2022 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Shiprock, New Mexico
Naataanii weaves patterns that represent her individual creativity, beyond the regional patterns of European colonizers. She is also a rancher of heritage Navajo Churro sheep, vowing to devote her life to this sacred practice. For Naataanii, weavings are living beings, and sheep are life and ceremonially essential.
Rich Smoker, Decoy Carver, 2019 NEA National Heritage Fellow
Marion Station, Maryland
Rich Smoker creates wildfowl decoy carvings out of his home workshop on the banks of the Big Annemessex River on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore.
Tremé Brass Band, New Orleans Brass Band, 2006 NEA National Heritage Fellow
New Orleans, Louisiana
Central to the musical traditions of New Orleans are the African American brass bands that play for traditional funerals and street parades. Among the most beloved of these is the Tremé Brass Band from the venerable and storied Tremé neighborhood The group is led by founder Benny Jones, Sr. who has been parading for nearly 60 years.
The complete schedule and list of participating organizations will be released in early September.