By Bonnie Goldberg
The New Haven community is blessed with a two week event unique in the country:  THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND IDEAS.
From Saturday, June 9 to Saturday, June 23, the city of New Haven is opening its arms wide in welcome for friends, families, neighbors and visitors to discover the arts in all their glory, from all corners of the globe.
If you are into music, plan to bring a chair or blanket and a meal to the New Haven Green for a FREE concert, most starting at 6 p.m.  Come hear Elan Troman and Rohn Lawrence, with special guest The Rahsaan Langley Project to kick off the Festival on Saturday, June 9 at 6 p.m.
The next night plan to hear  a vibrant mix of Latin American and Afro-Mexican sounds as Flor De Toloache and Las Cafeterias ignite the stage from 6 p.m. on. Ruth B’s soulful ballads will ring out in all their purity on the Green on Saturday, June 16 starting at 7 p.m. while Amir Elsaffar, with members of the Sound Orchestra and New Haven Symphony Orchestra will pump the air with jazz, Iraqi maqam music and classical music on Sunday, June 17 at 4 p.m.
Area churches will feature a series of programs for $10 each on such diverse topics as the history of reeds, a jazz and hip-hop band, a poetry jam, and Ugandan Folk Fusion. Choral groups from Germany to Sri Lanka to Mexico will rise up in song several times at the Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall on College Street, $35 or all performances for $100. For guitar magic, plan to attend Kaki King’s The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body, on Wednesday, June 20 at 8 p.m., also at Sprague Hall, $35-55.
For the excitement of a diverse program, seek out the lectures and presentations on topics like Germany and the European Union, Islam and Music: The Case of Iran or Mexico Beyond the Headlines.  All Ideas events are FREE and open to the public.  Click here for specific dates and times.
If theater is your fervent desire, the Festival offers a plethora of choices.  Starting outdoors in the Yale Law School Courtyard, come experience the New England premiere of The Merchant of Venice by Compagnia de’Colombari from Italy, directed by Karin Conrad.  Five multi-ethnic actors will take you on an unforgettable journey, June 19-23, $45-65. On June 22 and 23, be transfixed by the world premiere of Requiem for an Electric Chair, a true story told by the actor who lived it, Toto Kisaku of the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the Iseman Theatre on Chapel Street,   $25. For an hour of story telling come hear Ain Gordon, accompanied by Josh Quillen on percussion, at the Iseman Theatre June 12 and 13, $35-55, in Radicals in Miniature.
Yale’s University Theatre will be the site of A Billion Nights on Earth as a father and son take a journey to the stars from June 14 to 16, with director Thaddeus Phillips and visual artist Steven Dufala.  Love dance and the Beatles, then plan to attend the Mark Morris Dance Group’s presentation of Pepperland in its East Coast premiere at the Shubert Theater June 21 and 22 at 8 p.m., $20-125. This colorful and groundbreaking event also includes a dinner with the cast for $300, contact Brian Nekoloff at 203-498-3704.
In addition to all of the above, there are boat and walking tours, a photo exhibit on the Green by artist Joe Standard of immigrant faces, and a series of unique food experiences around the city to experience. Check out ARTIDEA.ORG/FOOD to capture them all. The vast majority of events are FREE.  For tickets go online or call 203-498-3772.  A number of flex passes and packages are available.
The International Festival of Arts and Ideas is a gift from the city of New Haven. Do not let this incredible gift go unopened.  Take full advantage of all the wondrous pieces it provides.
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