Seattle Symphony Orchestra is the latest cultural institution to respond to President Donald Trump’s travel ban, barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations and indefinitely blocking entry for Syrian refugees.
On Feb. 8, the orchestra will host a concert featuring music from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen ― the countries affected by Trump’s executive order.
Since Trump’s order was announced on Jan. 27, individuals and organizations around the United States have publicly expressed their support for refugee and immigrant communities, and their gratitude for the immense contributions they have made to this country. Seattle Symphony expressed their allegiance through a free concert titled “Music Beyond Borders: Voices from the Seven.”
As a statement from the symphony explained: “At the Seattle Symphony, we are inspired to add our voice, with the hope that we can bring together our community to celebrate the freedom of expression and open exchange of ideas which the arts have always stood for, especially in times of division and conflict.”
Within hours of announcing the concert, all of the available tickets were claimed. The symphony is catering to the massive interest in the event by streaming it live on Facebook. Interested parties can tune in to the topical performance on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. PST.
The San Diego Youth Symphony is also demonstrating its devotion to diversity in music by featuring two young Syrian refugees — and impassioned musicians — in an upcoming performance. Carla and Christine Chehadeh, sisters aged 17 and 12, respectively, took cello and violin lessons while living in Damascus before immigrating to San Diego in 2014. They will perform alongside the Youth Symphony for a Winter Inspiration Showcase & Afternoon Concert on March 12.
Musical establishments are not the only cultural platforms sharing their perspectives on the chaotic political climate. The Museum of Modern Art replaced artworks on its fifth floor gallery with works by artists from predominantly Muslim nations, highlighting artists like painter Ibrahim el-Salahi, painter Tala Madani and architect Zaha Hadid.
Countless more have used both virtual and physical channels to express the profound impact the affected nations have had on culture. Poet Kaveh Akbar rounded up poets with roots in the affected countries and shared them on Twitter. And the British publisher Comma pledged to forgo American titles in favor of Arabic writers, writers of Muslim heritage and refugees.
President Trump has made it clear he wants to impede the entry of immigrants from Muslim nations into the U.S., despite opposition. Seattle Symphony will stand up to intolerance and bigotry through the universal power of music, and hopefully inspire other cultural institutions to follow suit.
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