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Sunday Night Unplugged to feature Paul Roberts

This Sunday, Nov. 13, at 5 p.m. Sunday Night Unplugged at St. Patrick’s will feature the musical talents of Paul Roberts in “Music Evocative of Antiquity.”

Sunday Night Unplugged is a monthly service of music and meditation offered free of charge to the public by St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. It is a time to listen to beautiful music, hear meditational readings and prayers, and sit in silent reflection.

Paul Roberts will bring the beautiful and unique sounds of his unusual collection of stringed instruments to enhance this monthly service.

Much of Roberts’ music is evocative of antiquity — original compositions, ancient melodies and international folk tunes. The exquisite tones he pulls out of his instruments have a distinctly calming and pleasing effect. He is known for his intriguing assortment of instruments and for the sweet-sounding and soothing music he creates on them — cello banjo, sitar, mandolin, scoop-neck banjo, saz, celestial mandola, and whatever else he chooses to bring out from his treasure trove of strings.

 “I was hardwired for plucked string instruments,” said Roberts whose father, Dr. Eugene Roberts (a renowned neurobiologist), plays mandolin. “Some of my earliest memories are playing with my blocks while my father played mandolin.

 “I navigated through my musical childhood on piano and trumpet, until the 1960s folk music revival. Then I took the plunge into banjo and guitar.”

He learned enough about the banjo and guitar to start getting paid teaching and performing when he was 16. Later, he performed folk and rock music with singer Kate Taylor (James’ sister) and Bruce Springsteen’s producer, Jon Landau.

 A breakthrough in the music business came for Roberts in 1967 when he began working as a music therapist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.

“It was at McLean that I realized music has enormous healing potential,” he said. “I’ve seen severely disturbed psychiatric patients build bridges back to sanity through music.”    

 Living in India in 1970, he had a rare opportunity to study music with the legendary sitarist Ustad Rais Khan whose lineage goes back to the court musicians of the Mogul emperors.  

 “When I returned from India, I wanted to do a music composed of instruments from around the world, but there didn’t seem to be much outlet for it at the time.” He worked as a music therapist for the California Department of Mental Health. In 1982, he and his partner, Carla Roberts, began a decades-long career performing multicultural music and dance concerts in schools and cultural centers throughout the western states.

 These days, Roberts enjoys living in Pagosa Springs where he composes, accompanies a Tai Chi class, produces concerts and traverses gorgeous trails. 

“We feel very fortunate to be able to combine Paul’s extraordinary musical gifts with the Sunday Night Unplugged meditative setting,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. “Paul’s music perfectly compliments the ambiance of this service, taking the listener to the realms of spiritual awareness and peace.”

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. For more information about Sunday Night Unplugged or about worship or other activities at St. Patrick’s, all 731-5801 or go to the website, www.stpatrickspagosa.org.

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