HARLINGEN — Due to the pandemic, this nonprofit was unable to hold in-person concerts and outreach events for local students this season.
However, its members’ determination helped make it possible for them to continue entertaining, educating and inspiring those interested in music.
On Friday, the award-winning group “Sultans of String” held a virtual performance, sponsored by the Harlingen Concert Association (HCA) for Harlingen CISD middle and high school band and orchestra students.
Sultans of String’s performance is the HCA’s first ever virtual student outreach event.
“One of our main missions is to provide student outreach opportunities and then now with technology, Zoom and different things like that, it makes it accessible to lots of people, which is great,” HCA educational outreach coordinator Julie Ng-Castillo said. “It just made my heart so happy to see so many students and teachers so excited to be there.”
Sultans of String is a group based in Toronto that HCA planned to bring to Harlingen for its 2020-2021 concert season.
“This group is amazing,” Ng-Castillo said. “You can see that they’re award-winning.”
Sultans of String won the 2014 Sirius XM World Group of the Year and is a three times JUNO Award nominee.
For more than a decade, Sultans of String have performed a variety of music, such as celtic reels, flamenco, hot club jazz, Arabic, Cuban and South Asian rhythms.
In addition to performing songs of all kinds of musical genres, the group gave historical context of the styles they performed, talked about different instruments and answered questions the students had during the virtual performance.
“It’s a lifetime of learning for any style or instrument you play,” Sultans of String bandleader Chris McKhool said. “The more time you put into it, the better you’re going to get.”
The group says through their music, they celebrate musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity.
“It’s super fun playing different styles of music. For me, I really love exploring music from around the globe,” McKhool said. “That’s what we do here with Sultans of String.”
McKhool said it was an honor to be able to perform for the students.
“It’s so awesome that you’re playing music,” McKhool told the students. “Keep with it. It’s a beautiful gift that you have that just keeps getting better and better your whole life.”