In 2019 I discovered the graphic novel «Threads From the Refugee Crisis” by the British writer, Kate Evans. It deals with the arduous lives faced by principally Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the Calais Jungle, a notorious provisional encampment on the French coast meant to house and process those wanting to immigrate to England. It was this tome that moved me to include the topic of immigration in my music and inspired me to compose a new work for solo classical guitar and voice titled, «NEVER STEP BACK». The text from Evans’ book proved invaluable to me, as did the poem, “Dear Exile” by Mai Ver Dang, the work of Tracey K. Smith, and significantly, «The Devil’s Highway» by Luis Alberto Urrea, a book that chronicles the unfortunate and fatal journey of 26 Mexican immigrants trying to illegally enter the United States through the Devil’s Highway, a particularly brutal stretch of desert located in southern Arizona.
Having immersed myself in so much material on a subject that I know will always prove immediate, I decided to start a new multi-year, multi-work project called A LONG WALK as a way of raising awareness of and adding my voice to the conversation surrounding immigration.
Commissioned by Carnegie Hall’s Reflections of Resilience project, WHERE WE BELONG is scored for double string quartet, charango and guitar. The work features the acclaimed PubliQuartet along with a group of young Latin American immigrants, all of them students from InTempo, an organization based in Stamford, CT, that provides high-quality classical and intercultural music education to children predominantly from immigrant backgrounds and from communities underrepresented in the arts.
The premiere will take place at Carnegie Hall on June 26th, 2022.
La Voz de Monica features the story of Monica, who left her two-year-old son in Ecuador in 2000 to make a grueling journey to Mexico where she tried to cross the border in the U.S. This trip turned into something much more ghastly than she anticipated, so much so that it nearly cost her life. Commissioned by Susan Klebanow for the UNC CHAMBER SINGERS and CAROLINA CHOIR, the piece will be premiered on November 18, 2023 at the Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall (Chapel Hill, NC.)
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, this project seeks to raise awareness about the problems facing young immigrants as they leave their homes and adapt to life in the US. The work includes six new pieces that use texts taken from poems and prose written by middle and high school Latinos, all of whom are recent arrivals to the United States living in Montgomery County, MD.
VOICES FROM MAYA details the journey of Maya, who was 23 years old when escaping the war-torn Croatia in 1993 to start a new life in the U.S. The work was commissioned by conductor Gail Archer and the Barnard-Columbia Chamber Choir.
A piece commissioned by INTEMPO for PlayUSA, a program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, WHERE WE BELONG is scored for double string quartet, charango and guitar. The work features the acclaimed PubliQuartet and students from the Stamford based after school music program, INTEMPO, an organization that provides high-quality classical and intercultural music education to children predominantly from immigrant backgrounds and communities underrepresented in the arts.
VOICES is a trilogy of works scored for mixed choir, classical and electric guitar that will form a small part of the larger A LONG WALK series. Each piece in VOICES is based on a real person and the reason they decided to leave their country of origin. The first piece, VOICES FROM MAYA, chronicles the journey of a young woman escaping war-torn Croatia and starting a new life in the U.S. The piece was commissioned by conductor Gail Archer and the Barnard Columbia Chorus and featured composer Javier Farias on electric guitar and Scott Hill on classical. The premiere took place in April 2022, in NYC.
A 40 minute suite written for guitar and voice, depicts texts and poetry by Kate Evans, Mai Ver Dang, Tracey K. Smith and Luis Alberto Urrea.