Flame Headed for Italy to perform at international festival | March 30, 2017

Headed for Italy

Lexington band Flame to perform at international festival

Nick Robinson, Michelle King and Carl Blanchard.

 GLOVERSVILLE — Flame, Lexington Center’s rock band, will be a featured act at the 19th International Festival of Different Abilities in Carpi, Italy, at the Teatro Comunale, a mid-19th century neoclassical theater, on May 30.

“This is their first time in Italy,” said Maria Nestle, band manager for Flame.

Flame was invited to play in Carpi after a representative of Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno, an Italian cooperative that supports people with mental and physical differences, saw videos of Flame’s performances on YouTube.

“Going to Italy has always been a dream of mine,” said David LaGrange, Flame’s drummer, “so being able to go there and share our music is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Flame started in 2003 when singer Michelle King won a talent contest.

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“She said what she really wanted to do was be in a band,” said Nestle.

At that same time, long-time drummer LaGrange had been trying to become a part of a band as well.

“We got them together and they held auditions,” said Nestle.

She said LaGrange named the band after the Olympian torch “standing for hope and inspiration,” said Nestle.

In December 2003, the band performed for NYSARC’s state conference and it “took off,” said Nestle.

July 2016 at Paul Nigra Center
Michelle King with Andrew Carpenter, far right, Nick Robinson, bass player and musical advisor, and drummer David LaGrange.

July 2016 at Paul Nigra Center Michelle King with Andrew Carpenter, far right, Nick Robinson, bass player and musical advisor, and drummer David LaGrange.

Nestle said while in Italy, the band members plan on visiting historic and culturally important sites.

“The members are raising funds to travel to the Vatican in Rome and to the Uffizi gallery in Florence, which will be among the highlights of the trip,” she said.

Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno organizes and promotes the International Festival of Different Abilities every year to highlight the excellence and uniqueness of people with disabilities. The main purpose of the festival is to express the founding philosophy of Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno: It’s always possible to pursue excellence regardless of a person’s physical or mental differences.

“The point of my job as manager of this project is to show how incredible people with difficulties are, and that their abilities can be a huge resource for everybody,” said Carlotta Sabbatini of Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno in a news release.

Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno sees art as both a goal to achieve and a means to attain excellence. Through art, people have the opportunity to reach self-actualization. The festival features dance, music, theater performances, film screenings, art exhibitions, workshops and conventions. This year’s theme is “Impossible but Visible.”

Debbie Woodruff, dancer, Shawn Lehr, Karl Blanchard, Adrienne Phillips, Michelle King, David LaGrange, and Nick Robinson in 2015.

Debbie Woodruff, dancer, Shawn Lehr, Karl Blanchard, Adrienne Phillips, Michelle King, David LaGrange, and Nick Robinson in 2015.

“We are honored to have Flame representing us at this special event,” said Shaloni Winston, executive director of Lexington in the release. “Everyone at Lexington is so proud of Flame’s talent and the message of inspiration they convey.

This is the first time Flame will be performing in Italy, but it’s not the first time the band has performed outside the country. In 2009, Flame was asked to  perform by the Greek Administration of Education for a conference that brought ability awareness and showcased Flame’s talent. The band has also performed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It performed for the Winter World Games in Boise, Idaho, for 17,500 people, sharing the stage with performers including Darius Rucker and Kenny G.

Flame is a 10-piece band consisting of musicians who have disabilities. Flame has a repertoire of more than 100 classic rock, pop, country and blues songs from the past 50 years as well as some original tracks. In the past 14 years, the band has produced five albums and a single.

The group tours the northeastern United States in a custom bus and plays more than 70 shows per year.

For more information about Flame, call Nestle at (518) 661-9932, Ext. 164, or nestlem@lexcenter.org.

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Lexington, a chapter of NYSARC, is a private, not-for-profit agency providing services to adults and children who have disabilities in Fulton and Albany counties.

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