National Sawdust

"The New Immigrant"
Artistic Discipline: MusicPerforming Arts
Category: Local Arts Support
Grant Year: 2020
Location: Williamsburg

National Sawdust’s (NS) mission is rooted in music discovery that is open, inclusive, and based in active mentorship of emerging artists, while building new audiences and communities of music devotees.

NS engages artists in an ecosystem that spans from incubation to dissemination, programming groundbreaking new music in their state-of-the-art venue, and developing and touring new, collaborative projects that embrace a wide stylistic approach to music.

NS believes that innovation can change the landscape of contemporary music. The organization is a leader in representing artistic voices that reflect this ever-evolving multicultural society.

On April 1, 2020, NS will present a community concert in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that celebrates the CD and DVD release of “The New Immigrant Experience,” a multimedia piece that tells the real stories of Dreamers – those who are currently protected by DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program – through music performed by the Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble.

Rooted in the Latin jazz style, “The New Immigrant Experience” seeks to put a face to the often dehumanized immigrant issue by telling the stories of these individuals from the Dreamer community and giving a voice to their struggle. The work uses speech cadences and melodic motives based on key words as its main source of musical material. The speech material was collected through video interviews of a representative group of Dreamers. Their personal stories and experiences of growing up bilingual and undocumented also informed musical choices. The work was uniquely composed for the Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble, a large jazz collective.

This CD and DVD release concert will be collaborative in nature, providing ample opportunities for audiences and artists to ask questions of each other and learn from each other. The event features a Dreamers’ guest panel discussion, performance, and a meet-and-greet with CD/DVD signing with Felipe Salles. Interaction between artists and audiences in the events we present is another important part of their mission. NC aims to be a space where artists and audiences can learn from each other; where there are no barriers to music and learning about each other’s stories.

While “The New Immigrant Experience” directly speaks to Latinx and immigrant communities affected by the current government's immigration policies, it also seeks to reach beyond these communities through the telling of lived experiences via music to broad audiences. Its ultimate goal is to both support immigrant communities and to create allies to further the cause of immigrant rights in America. NC hopes to increase social awareness surrounding issues of immigration in order to fight against the anti-immigrant rhetoric pervasive in the U.S. today.