Locals help give First Night its groove

One way or another, each of the over one million people participating in the upcoming 32nd First Night Boston, the oldest, largest and most-often-copied New Year's Eve arts celebration in North America, will sample the work of Dorchester and Mattapan artists who teamed with other talented, hard-working peers from across the region to bring off the day-long extravaganza.

For starters, every reveler will be sporting a First Night button based, for the second year in a row, on an image created by a Dorchester artist. Last year it was the painting "Cosmic Dancer" by Lucilda Dassardo-Cooper; this year it's a picture of the Boston nighttime skyline taken by photog Mike Ritter.

The Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center (HCC) starts off the festivities. There Carmen Powell, profiled a couple of weeks ago in the Reporter, will once again be coordinating and teaching the face-painters. At the Hynes, as well members of the Talbot Avenue Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club will display the stained glass they created depicting such community-positive images as fathers spending time with their children.

The A. Major Dance Company (a punning reference to organizer Andrea Herbert Major) will once again present performances by 35 students from the Roxbury Center for the Arts, located on the corner of Blue Hill Ave and Faylon St in Dot ("A Rhythmic Sampler," HCC, Exhibit Hall C, shows at 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m.).

CV Drumbeats, young percussionists from the Franklin Park Development Tenants Assn., will unleash Cape Verdean rhythms to welcome in '08 with sessions in HCC Room 203 at 2, 3 and 4 p/m.

And speaking of drums, there were be a drum line as part of the troop of 35-40 kids from the Thomas J. Kenney School Marching Band, who will be debuting their brand-new blue-and-yellow uniforms in the Grand Procession. Third through fifth graders will also be playing flutes, clarinets, trumpets and trombones and twirling flags.

Dorchester Center's Valerie Stephens, one of Boston's premiere jazz songstresses, performs a tribute to High Priestess of Soul, "The Art and Time of Nina Simone" at the Park Plaza Terrace Room. (Sets at 8, 9:15, and 10:30 pm.)

For the tenth year, Melville Park resident Heinrich Christensen will be giving a 9 pm all-Bach recital on the C. B. Fisk organ at King's Chapel, where he is Music Director. This year the program includes "Prelude in E Minor."

All this is just the tip of the ice sculpture. Local residents figure in many other ensembles from the renowned Silver Leaf Gospel Singers to OrgiNation, Inc. dancers.

Behind the scenes as well Dorchester and Mattapan residents are overseeing and organizing to keep this trend-setting event running smoothly. Alene Burroughs (Mattapan) is First Night's Office Manager. Emerson Kington is the Hynes Convention Center Site Manager, and Joyce Linehan (Ashmont) is Director of Public Relations.

Once more Boston's largest neighborhood distinguishes itself with so many and so diverse contributions to the city's biggest arts party.

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