Salles Debuts “The New Immigrant Experience” in Old Chapel


On Tuesday, April 9, Felipe Salles, associate professor of jazz studies in the department of music and dance, presented the world premiere of his work “The New Immigrant Experience” to a sold-out audience of around 175 concert-goers.

The event included a 6 p.m. panel discussion on immigrant rights activism featuring Salles and Tereza Lee — the original Dreamer who inspired Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) to write the Dream Act (the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) — as well as the performance by the Felipe Salles Interconnections Ensemble, a New England–based, 18-piece jazz ensemble.

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

Salles will perform the work on Thursday, Aprill 11 at the National Sawdust Theatre in New York City.

View photos from the event here.