Refugee Orchestra Project founder discusses role as arts activist

Posted on: May 18, 2017

“Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya’s Refugee Orchestra Project will bring together hundreds of performers—instrumentalists and singers whose friends and families have fled to this country to escape violence and persecution—for a single, large-scale performance” in Cambridge, Mass. on May 22, reads an unsigned article in Tuesday’s (5/16) Boston Musical Intelligencer. They will perform works by “Iranian composer Gity Razaz, Bela Bartók, and Irving Berlin, as well as music that involves refugee themes written by Verdi and Puccini, among others.” Yankovskaya says, “Verdi’s operas were regularly censored … and the 20th century has continued to see political responses through music in Shostakovich, Britten, Adams, and many prominent composers writing today…. The president’s recent travel ban has struck a chord with the highly international world of classical music… Statements against this administration’s immigration policies were immediately issued by … Opera America and League of American Orchestras. A new conversation has begun…. I came to this country as a refugee with my family…. What role does today’s classical musician have as an activist? … We often forget how many quintessentially American works of art were created by refugees like Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Bartók, Rachmaninoff, and Irving Berlin.”

Posted May 18, 2017