March 28, 2023
Felipe Salles holding a saxophone.
Professor Felipe Salles

On April 4, Professor of Jazz Studies in the Department of Music and Dance, Felipe Salles, with his Interconnections Ensemble, will reprise his award-winning work The New Immigrant Experience to conclude "Immigration, Citizenship, and Belonging: Two Days of Discussion, Debate, and Celebration," a two-day immigration and citizenship celebration hosted by UMass Amherst and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The event is sponsored in part by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

The New Immigrant Experience is a powerful multi-media piece inspired by the lives of “Dreamers,” the more than 3.6 million individuals currently protected by DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Composed by Salles and developed with the aid of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, the work uses speech cadences and melodic motifs based on key words as its main source of musical material. The compelling and personal stories were collected through video interviews with a representative group of Dreamers during the summer of 2018. Their personal stories, experiences of growing up bilingual and undocumented, also informed musical choices.  The music is performed as the interviews are shown on a large screen behind the Ensemble. The New Immigrant Experience was performed live for the first time at the UMass Old Chapel in April of 2019, and was released on Tapestry Records later that year.

Felipe Salles leading the Interconnections Ensemble with a projection in the background.
Salles leading his Interconnections Ensemble in the 2019 premiere.

Prior to Salles's performance, the university will host a book talk by Suketu Mehta, author of "This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto"; a discussion on immigration and citizenship by UMass scholars; art exhibitions; and a Naturalization Ceremony for approximately 200 new citizens, which is scheduled to be held on April 4 in coordination with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.