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Esteban and the Children of the Sun

 $10 – $25

  The Englert Theatre

Sponsored by:
James Investment Group

Event Description

Ticket Options

$25 – General Reserved
$10 – Student Reserved

On-Sale Schedule

Friends Presale*: 9/1 @ 12:30 PM CT
Public On-Sale: 9/3 @ 12:30 PM CT

*Get access to advance ticketing by becoming a Friend of the Englert. CLICK HERE to learn more.


2:00 PM – Doors
2:30 PM – Seating Begins
3:00 PM – Show

Box Office Hours

Tuesday - Friday
10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
(319) 688-2653

Art by Gary Kelley

Read our COVID-19 Safety Policy for Patrons here.

Esteban & The Children of the Sun is a musical suite that imagines and interprets the tricontinental journey of Esteban of Azemmour, the 16th-century Moroccan explorer and first documented African to travel across the North American lands of present-day southwestern United States.

A multi-media production combining music with dialogue, images and projected text, Esteban & The Children of the Sun follows the 2016 musical project, Hot Tamale Louie, a multi-genre collaboration between composer, musician, and educator, John Rapson, and composer/musicians Daniel “Nielo” Gaglione and Dave Moore. In developing Esteban & The Children of the Sun, Rapson once again brought Gaglione on board, together with Iowa City blues musician and songwriter, Kevin Burt, and Denver-based flamenco guitarist and composer, Miguel Espinoza. Writer and spoken-word artist, Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey, offers contemporary insights and reflections through a series of dialogues interspersed with the Rapson-orchestrated tunes and the improvisatory contributions of Mektoub Arkestra. Esteban & The Children of the Sun invites the audience to sonically explore Esteban’s travels from his birthplace in early 16th-century Morocco to enslaved servitude in Spain, a transatlantic journey as part of the 1527 Narváez expedition to Florida, and his eventual multiyear crossing of the American southwest as one of only four survivors from Narváez’s failed attempt to colonize the Gulf coast.

“John Rapson was drawn to the story,” writes Eric Neel in the liner notes for the album, Esteban & The Children of the Sun, “because its recovery and retelling might enrich our understanding of the story of America, in all its imperfect collaborative origins and experiments.”

Mektoub Arkestra:

Dianne Betkowski – cello
Kevin Burt – guitar, harmonica, voice
Christina Craig Gentzsch – cello
Miguel Espinoza – guitar
Daniel “Nielo” Gaglione – mandole, voice
Randy Hoepker – electric bass
Justin LeDuc – drums
Tara McGovern – fiddle, vocals
Dan Padley – electric and acoustic guitar
Nolan Schroeder – soprano and tenor saxophones, clarinet
Blake Shaw – double bass
Andy Skellenger – tabla, cajón, and djembe
Ryan Smith – alto and baritone saxophones, flute, bass clarinet
Dave Hagedorn – conductor
Caleb Rainey – spoken word

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