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.