New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - GO - By Joe Amarante Ja­ma­rante@nhreg­is­; @Joeammo on Twit­ter

When In­ter­na­tional Festival of Arts & Ideas of­fi­cial Chad Her­zog shared the name of the Satur­day, June 16, per­former on the New Haven Green with festival “fel­lows” — the 15- to 17-yearolds who work and learn as festival staffers — “it was the part of the festival they went ab­so­lutely crazy for. They know her mu­sic; they were all singing along as I was play­ing the video for them.”

Her­zog said he thinks Ruth B — short for Ruth Berhe, from Ed­mon­ton, Al­berta — will be the youngest head­lin­ing act (at 22) in festival his­tory.

“Ruth B may not be a name that a lot of us rec­og­nize,” said Her­zog, co-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the festival and direc­tor of pro­gram­ming, “but as soon as you start to play her mu­sic, you’ll start to see why she’s com­ing to the stage. She’s a young Cana­dian singer/song­writer who has a great band back­ing her, was break­through artist of the year last year, won a Juno Award, top 40 hit-maker.”

Con­trast that with the re­cently an­nounced pair of Mu­sic on the Green con­certs in a month — Ron­nie Spec­tor and the Ronetttes July 21 and Tay­lor Dayne July 28. Both are name acts who will draw a crowd, but Spec­tor is in her 70s and will at­tract a much more “ma­ture” crowd.

“She (Ruth B) should be reach­ing a de­mo­graphic of au­di­ence mem­bers who we may not have al­ways been play­ing mu­sic for,” said Her­zog. “... She has an amaz­ing voice and was dis­cov­ered on so­cial me­dia.”

As a teen, Ruth B put out six-sec­ond clips of mu­sic on the Vine app (start­ing with her singing the cho­rus to Drake’s “Hold On We’re Go­ing Home”) be­cause it was eas­ier than pro­duc­ing a whole song on YouTube. The clips caught on, with view­ers post­ing cov­ers of the clips. A record com­pany no­ticed and she was signed to Columbia Records just three years ago, flesh­ing out clips of the un­adorned pi­ano bal­lad “Lost

Boy” into a full (hit) song and re­leas­ing the EP “The In­tro.”

She put out a full al­bum, “Safe Haven,” in 2017 with pro­ducer Joel Lit­tle, who had helped Lorde with her first al­bum.

On Sun­day after­noon,

June 17, Iraqi-Amer­i­can trum­pet player Amir ElSaf­far re­turns to the festival as head­liner on the Green for a 4 p.m. con­cert with 10 mem­bers of the Rivers of Sound Orches­tra and 13 mem­bers of the New Haven Sym­phony Orches­tra.

“Amir ElSaf­far, (from an) Amer­i­can-born Iraqi fam­ily... with his band River of

Sound, plays mu­sic that just cap­ti­vates our soul,” said Her­zog. “We’re putting that mu­sic with the New Haven Sym­phony ... a great way to chal­lenge all of our senses. I can tell you that his mu­sic is mu­sic that the sym­phony is not used to play­ing . ... I re­ally thank and com­mend Wil­liam (Boughton, NHSO mae­stro) for tak­ing a chance on this be­cause this is not tra­di­tional Western mu­sic.”

By that he means the mu­sic uses Mid­dle Eastern “maqams” (or modes) and in­stru­ments such as the oud (lute), san­tur (ham­mered dul­cimer) and hand per­cus­sion, with el­e­ments of con­tem­po­rary jazz. The group’s 2017 re­leased was “Not Two.”

Also of note in com­ing days: the ex­quis­ite Haven String Quar­tet will play at noon Thurs­day, June 14, on the Green and the 2nd An­nual New Haven GospelFest Fri­day at 6:30 p.m. will in­clude a 100-per­son choir, soloists, a dance troupe, vo­cal quar­tets and a drill team.

Tris­tan Wil­liams / Arts & ideas

Ruth B will per­form on the New Haven Green June 16.

Arts & ideas / Con­trib­uted photo

Amir ElSaf­far will play with his Rivers of Sound Orches­tra and mem­bers of the New Haven Sym­phony Orches­tra.

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