Longfellow Summer Festival

crowd at Summer Festival concert
Crowd attending a Summer Festival concert on the lawn

The Longfellow Summer Festival is a tradition nearly as old as the park itself. This annual festival brings music and poetry alive on the East Lawn of the Longfellow House on Sunday afternoons through the summer.

The programs are co-sponsored by the Friends of Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters, the New England Poetry Club, and Berklee College of Music.


2018 Schedule

Sunday, June 3
Student Poetry Awards
3:00 p.m.

Student Poetry Contest Winners read their works.

Thursday, June 14
MASS LEAP: Brave New Voices
6:30 p.m.

The 2018 Brave New Voices Team is comprised of five top ranked teen poets from competitions that have taken place through Mass LEAP's newest partnership "The Yung House" Youth Poetry Slam Series. Throughout the summer they will work together, under the mentoring of coach Porsha Olayiwola, producing new, collaborative work. These poets will be representing our statewide community at the 21st annual Brave New Voices International Festival, taking place in Houston Texas, this July. Last year Mass LEAP's poetry slam team took 2nd place and performed in front of 3200 people at the San Francisco Opera House.

Mass LEAP is a state wide non-profit organization dedicated towards expanding teens to pursue positive youth development and social justice through spoken word poetry opportunities. They sponsor the annual Louder than a Bomb Massachusetts Youth Poetry Slam Festival, provide professional development for educators and serves learning communities through workshop residencies and performances.

Sunday, June 17
David Ferry
3:00 p.m.

Acclaimed poet and translator David Ferry reads from his recent translation of Virgil’s Aeneid and other works.

Thursday, June 21
Ellen Shipman and the American Garden with Judith Tankard
6:30 p.m.

Ellen Shipman was one of the leading landscape architects of the early 20th century, designing over 600 gardens. She was renowned for creating intimate garden settings that often included small water features, sculpture, and her famous labor-intensive flower borders. A number of her gardens are now part of the National Park Service, including the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in New Hampshire and Chatham Manor in Virginia. Her parterre garden for the Longfellow House is one of her signature designs. This lecture will discuss some of the characteristics of her gardens and examine recent restorations.

Space is limited for the lecture. Reservations are required and may be made via email or by calling (617) 876-4491. A Park Ranger-led Garden Talk will begin in the Longfellow Garden at 5:30 p.m.

Judith B Tankard is an art historian specializing in landscape history. She is the author of ten books and many articles and reviews on historic gardens and designers. She taught for over 20 years at the Landscape Institute (formerly Radcliffe Seminars) of Harvard University.

Sunday, June 24
The Tree that Falls Concert
3:00 p.m.

The Tree That Falls is an acoustic duet featuring cellist Cristobal Cruz-Garcia and guitarist John Shafer. Established in early 2016, the duo incorporates the modern fingerstyle technique for guitar and cello while taking influence from a wide variety of world styles and genres.

Prominent influences include Balmorhea, Eugene Friesen, Ben Sollee, Aoife O’Donovan, and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, a Golden Globe–winning composer for whom the duo opened in October 2016.

Wednesday, June 27
Warrior Writers Reading
6:00 p.m.

Join us for a reading of original poetry written by military veterans and service members.

Warrior Writers Boston is a community of military veterans, service members, artists, allies, civilians, and healers dedicated to creativity and wellness. They use writing, painting, photography, and a host of other mediums to reflect on their experiences and to articulate/express them creatively.

Since April, we have hosted biweekly writing workshops at site. The series culminates in this public reading of members' works.

Please be advised that some content may be adult in nature. Program may not be suitable for children.

Sunday, July 1
Rants, Chants and Coos: The multiple musings of a literarymusician
3:00 p.m.

Literaryperformer, educator & former National Poetry Slam Champion, Regie Gibson, has lectured & performed in the U.S., Cuba & Europe. Representing the U.S., Regie competed for & received the Absolute Poetry Award in Monfalcone, Italy. Himself & his work appear in "love jones”: a feature-film based on events in his life. He has featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, WBUR’s On Point, Radio Boston, & other NPR programs. Regie has presented at several TED X events & has been nominated for a Boston Emmy. He’s served as a consultant for both the National Endowment for the Arts “How Art Works” initiative & the “Mere Distinction of Color”: an exhibit at James Madison’s Montpelier, examining the legacy of slavery and the U.S. constitution. Regie has performed with, & composed texts for, The Boston City Singers, The Mystic Chorale & the Handel+Haydn Society & has been published in Poetry Magazine, Harvard’s Divinity Magazine, and The Iowa Review, among others. His volume of poems, “Storms Beneath the Skin” won the Golden Pen Award.

He is a recipient of the Walker Scholarship for Poetry from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, a YMCA Community Writer’s Fellowship, the Lexington Education Foundation Grant, a Massachusetts Cultural Council Award & is a recent recipient of a 2017 Brother Thomas Fellowship for Artistic Excellence from The Boston Foundation. Regie teaches at Grub Street, Clark University, is part of the Emerson College Summer Faculty & is both Poet-in-Residence for Mass Poetry & head instructor for the Mass Poetry “Poets in the Schools Program” accredited through Lesley University. When not teaching, he is the lead singer for Atlas Soul: A world music, global funk ensemble & is Artistic Director of Shakespeare to Hiphop’s “Shakespeare Time-Traveling Speakeasy”: a multimedia performance focusing on the life, works & influence of William Shakespeare.

Sunday, July 8
Orlando Latorre Concert
3:00 p.m.

Orlando Latorre is a jazz trumpet player, singer, arranger, composer, and producer. Raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he began playing trumpet at the Instituto de Música Juan Morel Campos at age 11.

At age 16, Latorre began performing in Puerto Rico with Southjazz, a group of seven musicians. In 2013, he moved to San Juan, where he began to study at the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico before continuing his studies at Berklee College of Music.

He has performed with artists such as Wang Leehom, Danilo Pérez, Rodolfo Arteaga, and Eguie Castrillo. He has performed at venues and events such as Heineken Jazz Fest, Berklee Performance Center, Beantown Jazz Festival, Berklee Encore Gala, Boston Symphony Hall, and House of Blues Boston.

Saturday, July 14
Meet the Washingtons
12:00-4:00 p.m.

General Washington and his beloved Martha return to his Cambridge Headquarters! Meet them, ask questions, take the perfect photograph, try out colonial clothing, play historic games, and experience the Revolutionary events of the 18th century.

Activities include:

  • Lawn games
  • Arts and crafts
  • 1:00 p.m. reading with Roxane Orgill, author of "SIEGE: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution"
  • 2:30 p.m. walking tour, "Road to Revolution"

Saturday, July 14
Poetry Reading and Discussion: SIEGE by Roxane Orgil
1:00 p.m.

According to author Roxane Orgill, the Revolutionary War got its start not at Lexington and Concord but right here in Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters NHS, where George Washington began his appointment as Commander-in-Chief. He established his first headquarters here in July 1775. The next eight and a half months are part of the Siege of Boston, the subject of Orgill’s new book, SIEGE: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution (Candlewick Press, 2018).

Orgill was inspired by Washington's writings and by her visits to Cambridge to write a book of poems that bring this tumultuous period to life. While there were no major battles during the siege, there were frequent, bloody skirmishes, and Washington faced tremendous problems, beginning with the lack of artillery and ammunition.

In her program, Orgill will talk about the research she did on site in Cambridge and Boston and the challenges of reimagining scenes in an area much altered since 1775-76. She will also read from her book, with a focus on the poems that resulted from her wanderings and investigations in the neighborhood.

Roxane Orgill is the author of several books for children, including the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winner Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph, illustrated by Francis Vallejo, as well as Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald, illustrated by Sean Qualls, and Footwork: The Story of Fred and Adele Astaire, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch. Roxane Orgill lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Sunday, July 15
Lines by Heart" Physicians and Poetry
3:00 p.m.

Award-winning poets and physicians Drs. Glenn Colquhoun and Rafael Campo explore the doctor-patient relationship as they illuminate the richly human search for meaning in the face of mortality.

  • Dr. Rafael Campo teaches and practices medicine at Harvard Medical School, where he directs the Arts and Humanities Initiative’s Literature and Writing Program. Author of eight highly acclaimed books, he is the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Amherst College, a National Poetry Series award, and a Lambda Literary Award for his poetry. His work has appeared many prominent periodicals including American Poetry Review, The Hudson Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Poetry, Salon.com, Slate.com, Threepenny Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. He has lectured widely, at such distinguished venues as the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, and the 92nd Street Y in New York. His fifth book of poetry, The Enemy, was awarded the Sheila Motton Book Prize for the best collection of poetry published in 2007 by the New England Poetry Club, one of America’s oldest poetry organization. He has received the Nicholas E. Davies Memorial Scholar Award from the American College of Physicians, for outstanding humanism in medicine. His collection of poems Alternative Medicine was the subject of feature stories on NPR, PBS NewsHour and the CBC’s Sunday Edition radio show. His next book, Comfort Measures Only: New and Selected Poems 1994-2016, will be published this fall, also by Duke University Press.
  • Glenn Colquhoun is a poet and children's writer. His first collection The Art of Walking Upright won the Jessie Mackay best first book of poetry award at the 2000 Montana book awards. Playing God, his third collection, won the poetry section of the same awards in 2003 as well as the reader's choice award that year. He has written four children's books and published a book of essays entitled Jumping ship and other essays. He was awarded the Prize in modern letters in 2004 and a Fulbright scholarship to Harvard University in 2010. In 2012 he was part of the ‘Transit of Venus’ poetry exchange at the Frankfurt book fair and in 2014 represented New Zealand on the Commonwealth Poets United poetry project which celebrated the Glasgow Commonwealth Games that year. Late Love: Sometimes Doctors Need Saving as Much as Their Patients was published by BWB in 2016. He works as a GP in Horowhenua.

Sunday, July 22
Brooks Robertson Concert
3:00 p.m.

Fingerstyle guitarist Brooks Robertson doesn’t need much more than two thumbs, eight fingers, and six strings on a wooden box to carry listeners away. He utilizes superb technical ability to play bass, rhythm, and melody simultaneously and surpass the borders of conventional genres.

Hailed by prominent exponents of his instrument such as Nokie Edwards, Thom Bresh, John Jorgenson, and Mason Williams, he merges hauntingly beautiful compositions, country rhythms, and jazzy harmonies with funky licks into his very own art form—sometimes delivered with a punch, sometimes with a smile.

Sunday, July 29
Golden Rose Award Presentation and Reading
3:00 p.m.

Pulitizer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa will receive the New England Poetry Club’s 2018 Golden Rose Award, one of the oldest literary prizes in the United States. His poems, rooted in personal narrative about his Louisiana childhood, his stint in Vietnam, urban living, and the legacies of slavery and racism, are infused with jazz and blues. The recipient of many honors and awards, Professor Komunyakaa currently serves as Distinguished Senior Poet at New York University.

Yusef Komunyakaa’s books of poetry include Taboo, Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular (for which he received the Pulitzer Prize), Pleasure Dome, Warhorses, The Chameleon Couch, and most recently The Emperor of Water Clocks (FSG). His awards include the William Faulkner Prize (Université Rennes, France), the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, and the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award. His plays, performance art and libretti have been performed internationally, and include Wakonda’s Dream, Saturnalia, and Gilgamesh: a Verse Play. He teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and serves as State Poet of New York.

Sunday, August 5
Danny Rivera Concert
3:00 p.m.

Danny Rivera is a singer-songwriter from Boston, Massachusetts. He is influenced by ambient, indie, pop, folk, Christian, jazz, and R&B genres. He started singing at age 5 at church, and this hobby slowly developed into something he wanted to pursue full time.

Rivera attends Boston Arts Academy and participates in City Music High School Academy, where he develops his craft daily. He has sung with the Boston Children's Chorus and for President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, and leads worship on Sundays at his church. He has been writing original content for the past two years and is recording his first EP, to be released sometime next year.

Wednesday, August 8 (Rain Date August 9)
Longy El Sistema Side by Side
6:30 p.m.

Longy’s El Sistema Summer Academy is excited to be back at Longfellow House for the second time! Join our ensembles as they showcase what they have accomplished over the past two weeks of this intensive summer program. Young musicians, ages 6-17, from around the Greater Boston area rehearse at Longy and receive rigorous musical training from Longy students and faculty. The children also enjoy character-building activities, such as African drumming, composition, conducting workshops, and more. These exercises help shape the children into well-rounded musicians, build their confidence, and jump-start their learning in the summer months. Witness the power of music as our Academy participants perform new and challenging works!

Sunday, August 12
Reaching Across: Poems and Translations
3:00 p.m.

Award-winning poets and translators Chloe Garcia Roberts and Ani Gjika reach across cultures, bringing us new and lively voices as well as their own new work. Chloe Garcia Roberts is the translator of poems by Chinese poet Li Shangyin, and Ani Gjika brings us her translated poems of Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku and Kosavar playwright Xhevdet Bajraj.

  • Chloe Garcia Roberts is the author of the book of poetry The Reveal (Noemi Press, 2015) which was published as part of the Akrilika Series for innovative Latino writing. She is also the translator of Li Shangyin's Derangements of My Contemporaries: Miscellaneous Notes (New Directions), which was awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and a collected translated poems of Li Shangyin (NYRB Poets). Her work has appeared in the publications BOMB, Boston Review, A Public Space, and Interim Magazine among others. She lives in Boston and is managing editor at Harvard Review and a contributing editor for The Critical Flame.
  • Ani Gjika is an Albanian-born poet, literary translator, writer, and author of Bread on Running Waters (Fenway Press, 2013), a finalist for the 2011 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and 2011 May Sarton New Hampshire Book Prize. Gjika moved to the U.S. at age 18 and earned an MA in English at Simmons College and an MFA in poetry at Boston University. Her translation from the Albanian of Negative Space by Luljeta Lleshanaku was published in 2018 from Bloodaxe Books in the UK and New Directions in the US. She is also the translator of Kosovar poet Xhevdet Bajraj's play, Slaying the Mosquito (Laertes, 2017). Gjika's honors include awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, English PEN, the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship, Framingham State University’s Miriam Levine Reader Award, and the Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize. Her poetry appears in Seneca Review, Salamander, Plume, From the Fishouse and elsewhere. Her translations from the Albanian appear in World Literature Today, Ploughshares, AGNI Online, Catamaran Literary Reader, Two Lines Online, From the Fishouse and elsewhere.

Saturday, August 25
Longfellows' 175th Wedding Anniversary Concert
3:00 p.m.

In Honor of Henry & Fanny Longfellow's 175th Anniversary, the Actual Trio performs jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, including the music of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Billy Strayhorn & Frank Loesser.

The Actual Trio consists of the Longfellows' great-great-great-grandson Pete Smith playing guitar, Matt Garrity on drums, and Dave Ambrosio with bass. The members of Actual Trio have performed and recorded with some of the best in the business including Vincent Herring, Teri Thornton, David Williams, Joel Forrester, Ron McClure, Ben Monder, Jerome Richardson, Kenny Werner, Ingrid Jensen, Rich Perry, Buddy DeFranco, Nathalie Merchant, Michael Feinstein and Norah Jones.

Saturday, August 25
Movie Night: Johnny Tremain
7:30 p.m.

Join us for a family friendly journey back to Revolutionary Boston through the 1957 Disney Classic Johnny Tremain! Running time: 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Concerts and movie night may be cancelled due to inclement weather.

Last updated: September 7, 2018

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