$35 regular $25 Senior $15 Studenthttps://www.aperioamericas.org/unaccompanied-feb23-event
“Unaccompanied,” a program of new music for solo cello commissioned and performed by Boston-based cellist Leo Eguchi, explores personal stories of immigration and American identity. Each of the commissioned works is by immigrant and first-generation American composers tasked with tackling the question, “What does your American-ness sound like?”
Being a mixed-race, first-generation American, I grappled throughout my small-town midwestern childhood with the experiences of a split-screen sort of treatment, all depending on whether I was in public with the white, or non-white members of my family. These bifurcated experiences continued into adulthood as I moved to Boston, made a career as a classical musician, and ultimately married and made a family with a white woman. Sometimes I move through society, accepted and respected as an artist while at other points, like when I’m not with my wife and daughter, I’ve had so many experiences of being disparaged, viewed as a threat, abused by authorities, threatened or experienced violence.
With my personal story as a backdrop, the recent wave of hostility toward immigrants and refugees has weighed heavily on me. How can we treat each other so differently? And in our polarized society, with so many obstacles to meaningful discourse, how can we even start a conversation about how to recognize our common humanity?
With music and metaphor.
In 2019, Yo Yo Ma gave a performance of Bach’s solo cello suites at the US/Mexico border to protest the “wall.” His intent was to send a message of bridge building, but what made a lasting impression on me is the humanity and courage of the unaccompanied, vulnerable cello in a place where many brave, powerless, and unaccompanied souls have passed, and yet I began to wonder if Yo Yo missed an opportunity. Perhaps, if applied with purpose, the song of a single cello could give voice to some of those stories?
This project, called ‘UNACCOMPANIED’, will present a range of personal stories of immigration and American-ness, composed by nine immigrant and first-generation Americans, and performed by myself on solo cello, alone on an empty stage. Each newly commissioned piece will be five to eight minutes in length, and allow each composer to draw from their diverse identities and experiences to answer the question, “What does your American-ness sound like?” The works will then be put together into an evening-length to spotlight each composer’s work and story, while also exploring the commonalities in the immigrant experience.
KENJI BUNCH – Ghost Mine
JAMES DIAZ – This Is Not America, part 2
FRANK DUARTE – Cello Piece
JOSE LUIS HURTADO – for solo cello
SAHW PONG LIU – Patch Work
EARL MANEEIN – The Wandering
KAREEM ROUSTOM – Breviary
MILAD YOUSUFI – Anchorage
LEO EGUCHI cello
Photo: Justine Cooper