Baha'i concert benefits Native center

Posted: Friday, February 23, 2001

An annual benefit concert will take place Saturday at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. The program features artists performing traditional, contemporary and crossover music and stories, from Native Alaskans and Native Americans.

The concert takes place as part of the Ayyam-i-Ha celebration, which comes just before a 19-day fast leading up to the Baha'i New Year on March 21.

The Ayyam-i-Ha holiday begins each year on the evening of Feb. 25 and ends at sunset March 1.

Baha'u'llah, prophet founder of the Baha'i faith, writes, "It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation. Let the days in excess of the months be placed before the month of fasting ... ."

Baha'u'llah has designated the intercalary days. These extra days stand apart from the ordinary cycle of weeks and months and the human measure of time. They are not "bounded by the limits of the year and its months."

"Just as the infinite reality of the divine essence of God is unbounded and cannot be captured or comprehended within the cycle of time or any other human measurement, it's a time of hospitality, fellowship, gift giving, sharing and community service," said George Holly, a Soldotna Baha'i.

In that spirit, he said, the musicians organized the concert as a kind of gift to the community and will donate all proceeds to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The concert will feature the renowned Paul Pike and his band, Medicine Dream. Holly also will perform as an Athabaskan singer and storyteller. He has done many tours across Alaska and in the Lower 48 and spent this winter in Shageluk as part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks language emersion program.

Other performers include Dr. Rita Blumenstein, a well-known Yup'ik traditional healer but also a drummer and singer who has performed at the Smithsonian Institution. Mary T. Gubatayao-Hagen of Juneau, whose Tsimp-shian music has been described as reflecting "the spirit of Pacific Rim Peoples." Gubatayao-Hagen said she does not see herself as a performer but as a person who "lives" her music.

The Miracle Dancers a Yup'ik dance group from Anchorage also will perform, along with other guests.

The Ayyam-i-Ha concert is at 8 p.m. at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Tickets range from $10 to $20 at the door. For more information, call (907) 330-8000.

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