When people flee, culture flees with them. So does music. I experienced it myself when Syrian singers who I had invited to one of my concerts performed. They sang “Kobane, Kobane”, a song about their destroyed hometown. Every country, every city has its songs. And now they’re on the run again. I guess it’s up to the politicians to find a solution to the refugee problem. But there has to be an underlying insight: Refugees are people.
Some well-known composers have dealt with the subject of emigration and flight, such as Thomas Asanger with his composition “Ein Zeichen für die Freiheit”. This work can be performed by two or more orchestras in double choir or in traditional wind orchestra formation. It thus lives up to its claim to unite people with different national, cultural and religious backgrounds.
Stephen Melillo got the inspiration for his work “Cuba” from his friend Aldo Forte. His father managed to get Aldo and his family out of Cuba when Aldo was just 6 years old. With a violin case, Mr. Forte managed to make the airport guards believe that he was a musician and therefore dispensable. In fact, however, he was a mathematician and has lived in Alabama with his wife Maria ever since.
Annie Moore left the Irish port of Cobh (then Queenstown) on 20 December 1891 with her younger brothers Philip and Anthony to follow her parents to the United States. On board the S.S. Nevada, they reached New York on December 31st to go through the immigration procedure the next morning. On January 1, 1892, she became the first immigrant to enter the United States via the new central collection point on Ellis Island. As the first immigrant to be welcomed at the new facility, the surprised Moore received the blessing of a chaplain and the station’s director presented her with a gold Eagle coin worth ten dollars, with the head of the Statue of Liberty as a coin image. A missionary gave her a silver coin and another bystander gave her a gold coin worth five dollars. ^”Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears” is the name of Brendan Graham’s composition in Michael Brown’s arrangement.
And so other composers have also dealt with the theme of emigration and flight: Philip Sparke, James Barnes, Frank Ticheli and Shin’ya Takahashi are among them.
If you would like to dedicate a concert to this topic, we have set up a link to it: Music on the run.