Calvin Arsenia

Light Up the Lawn: Calvin Arsenia

8:30 p.m. Friday, August 19, 2022 | Nerman Museum lawn

FREE

Kansas City harpist turns the arts world on its head as he flirts between genres.


Join the Midwest Trust Center for the 2022 Light Up the Lawn Concert Series featuring some of the best live music Kansas City has to offer. Bring your blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets (no alcohol) for these fun events! No reservations required.


Calvin Arsenia has built a reputation for turning the arts world on its head. While the harp has allowed this Kansas City native to become a man of the world (gaining followings in Paris, Edinburgh and at the Outlyre Harpist Festival in Austria), it’s his unique ability to craft a stimulating setting at his live shows that has all eyes fixed on this conspicuous musician and his breathtaking approach to harp music.

His angelic, classically trained voice soars over audiences, enchanting even the fussiest of fans, beckoning them to join him as he flirts between genres. He dances between indie, jazz and electronic music while calling upon rare harmonies and arrangements from his team of performers. But the music is just one part of his prodigious performances. Arsenia believes the art is in crafting the perfect moment. His music is best served live, with sensational performances and high fashion from the visually striking performer who stands more than six feet tall.

LA Sessions follows up the harpist/multi-instrumentalist’s critically acclaimed debut, Cantaloupe, and features the achingly haunting single, “Back to You.” Produced by Tony Braunagel, LA Sessions deftly showcases the eclectic young artist’s incredible vocal gift and features Braunagel on percussion, Paul Brown on guitar, Mike Finnigan on keyboards, Freddie Washington on bass and David Garfield on piano. Between them, the five musicians have worked with some of music’s most iconic names.

In his 2017 album, Catastrophe, and his 2018 release, Cantaloupe, Arsenia has consistently delivered genre-bending (and gender-bending) shows that tackle sexuality, religion and race in a stunningly unorthodox manner. Somewhere between sacred and sacrilege, you’ll find him furiously plucking away at his harp, questioning subject matter that rarely makes it to the stage.

It’s this tender approach to songs that has won over audiences – sometimes on the spot – time and time again. “I feel that every story and life has the right to be heard and understood,” says Arsenia. “Issues of race, class and sexuality should not ever diminish the value of a life. We gain a greater understanding of the world when we adopt and incorporate the views and perspectives of people.”