Immigrant Punk

With a multiculti mix, Olivia Giovetti fills in for Nadia Sirota

« previous episode | next episode »

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ellis Island Entrance (Stephen Nessen)

July Fourth is a big holiday on my grandmother's side of the family. Her clan gets together each year at my great-uncle's backyard for a barbecue that's equal parts kibbee and burgers, hot dogs and sfiha. We play wiffle ball and pick enough grape leaves to last us the next 364 days. I like to think that part of the reason why the Fourth is such a big deal to my Syrian relatives is because, in the 1920s, they were part of the immigrant influx. My grandmother's parents escaped an ongoing war and were given a chance by this country to have a new life.

On the Fourth of July, we often talk about American composers and all-American works—or even music that relates to red, white and blue. But one of the things that makes the States so amazing is how much it has been shaped by its immigrant populations (hey, we were founded by immigrants). In New York, you can stumble onto whole neighborhoods where all of the storefront signage is in Arabic or Cyrillic. A walk around St. Mark's Place in Manhattan offers falafel joints, Indian restaurants, okonomiyaki stands and one fabulous Ukrainian diner.

And since American composers get a lot of Q2 love, we thought this week we would serve up a range of non-American composers, reflecting on the diverse background of nationalities that form up this country's population, and in turn influence its culture. We'll hear from all four corners of the world and six of the seven continents, and while we aren't going to be featuring any Gogol Bordello on the menu, it's still worth taking a moment to check out this video:

In the meantime, I'm dying to know, what's your cultural heritage? Leave your story in the comments and we'll represent it on Friday's show.

Hosted by:

Olivia Giovetti

Comments [1]

Tell you what, Olivia, I'll give you what I WISH was my cultural background: GREEK! I love everything about the country -- except the currrent debt crisis, of course, and I'm concerned for friends there. I hope things can turn around fast both in terms of economic strain and the kind of street violence we're seeing today at Syntagma Square and Parliament of the Hellenes.

You know who always has a nurturing, deeply Hellenic voice? Eleni Karaindrou. Like my friend Mikis Theodorakis (about to turn 86!), she wraps you in such clear-eyed sadness that it sparkles like the sea off Agios Pavlos.

We'd do well to remember that our own American independence is, in so many ways, inspired by eons of Greek struggle and triumph. We owe them so much, efharisto. A shout out to my buddy Ifigenia Taxopoulou and others struggling through it now. No worries: Greece is never, ever beaten.

Jun. 28 2011 12:05 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.