Mercyhurst brings storytelling duo to Erie for residency, performances


The Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture is pleased to present The Bengsons, the up-and-coming husband-and-wife electroacoustic/folk/rock duo from New York City, for a two-week residency culminating in a live concert on Friday, Oct. 11, at 8 p.m. at the Erie Art Museum. The performance is sponsored by WICU-TV. 

Abigail and Shaun Bengson are likened to a pairing of Janis Joplin and David Byrne. They are the best in vaudevillian indie folk and young stars of the NYC experimental music and theater community.  Their radiantly emotive songs blend rousing, all-join-hands group choruses with spry vocal melodies and rich instrumentation that incorporate everything from banjo to accordion to classical harp.

They have performed their original shows, musicals and performance pieces across the country and around the world. After their single “Ashes” was featured on So You Think You Can Dance, in July 2013, it shot to No. 1 on the folk chart.

This storytelling duo will integrate into the fabric of Erie’s arts community for a two-week residence beginning Monday, Sept. 30. With workshops covering writing and performance, The Bengsons will provide a challenging and uplifting experience to inspire, tickle and nurture participants of all ages and levels.

The pair has a full docket during their Erie stay, which includes sessions with Erie city kindergarten, first and second grade students at the Mercyhurst-run Carpe Diem Academy; preschoolers at Mercy Center of the Arts; Mercyhurst University arts management students; Erie school teachers for a workshop and dinner at the Erie Art Museum; and community members with The Barber National Institute.

The Bengsons will also facilitate concerts and workshops open to the public, including a singer-songwriter workshop at the Erie Art Museum on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 3-6 p.m. and a performance/workshop at World of Music on Monday, Oct. 7, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The Bengsons will also perform a free concert on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Alex Theatre at Mercyhurst University – The North East Campus.

As activists and teachers, The Bengsons have worked at the Market Theater Lab (Johannesburg, ZA); the Tijuana Christian Orphanage (Tijuana, Mexico); and ASAPROSA (Santa Ana, El Salvador).

Local favorite The Zack Orr Band will serve as opening act for the Oct 11 performance at the Erie Art Museum.

With his richly layered, melodic harmonies, singer/songwriter Zack Orr enamors crowds as he shifts between guitars and a laptop. His debut album, The Unstoppable Lift, was called “stunning and inventive” by Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone fame. His latest release, Francisco The Man, was nominated for Best Concept Album by the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards.

Don’t miss The Bengsons, who The New York Times hails as possessing “not only a tremendous musical talent, but also a raw honesty and sincere righteousness.”

All tickets for the Oct. 11 performance are $12. Day-of sales will be cash only at the Erie Art Museum. For tickets, call 814-824-3000 or visit

For more information on the Oct. 10 performance in North East, call 814-725-6277. Cumulus Media is the season sponsor for the 2013-14 MIAC Live season.


Bookmark and Share

News Releases

Simulations give MNE nursing students unique understanding of mental illness
Interactive exercises used in ASN program this summer.
Mercyhurst immigration expert sees border conflict with unique eye
Frank Rodriguez, Ph.D., talks about his recent visit to the U.S.-Mexican border.
Announcing MIAC Live '14-15
Thirteen-performance lineup begins Sept. 5.

National News

Prince George Citizen-Steven Symes
Forensic anthropologist Steven Symes, Ph.D., testifies in trial of alleged serial killer.
Tribune Review-Ridge Archives
Gov. Tom Ridge, whose archives are housed at Mercyhurst, is quoted during a Pittsburgh fundraiser.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-Altavilla
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Mercyhurst MLB draft pick, Dan Altavilla.