NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Vocal Performance presents Finding Home: Our Stories, a series of vignettes featuring the music of world-renowned American composer, Ricky Ian Gordon, and poetry by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Tina Landau, and more.

NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Vocal Performance presents Finding Home: Our Stories, a series of vignettes featuring the music of world-renowned American composer, Ricky Ian Gordon, and poetry by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Tina Landau, and more.

Inspired by Miriam Jordon’s article in the New York Times detailing the decision by U.S.C.I.S to stop characterizing the United States as a “nation of immigrants”, the show investigates the immigrant experience through personal storytelling, singing, movement, and image projection.

The performance was created by students from diverse ethnic backgrounds who conducted extensive research into their family histories and the wider debate around immigration reform. The show explores what it means to be a refugee in past and present contexts.

The performance includes stories about a South Korean student brought to the United States for better educational opportunities, Jewish ancestors who narrowly avoided the Holocaust, refugees fleeing persecution, and more.

Other students uncovered family history they previously weren’t aware of. Through the research process, one student learned of his grandfather’s harrowing journey fleeing China during Japanese invasion—an experience portrayed through spoken word and song.

The music of Ricky Ian Gordon is revived for the performance, allowing the audience to experience these well-known compositions in new ways.

“Gordon’s music is ultimately very accessible for audiences. Although these songs weren’t originally written about immigrants or refugees, hearing them in this context reveals a different color to the music. We chose specific pieces for specific students and watched them breathe new life into the songs depending on their perspective,” said associate director of Steinhardt’s program in vocal performance and the show’s director, Dianna Heldman.

The final product weaves together vignettes exploring the immigrant experience throughout the ages, including the trials of navigating cultural and language barriers and escaping persecution in the pursuit of a better life.

“There’s a tremendous amount of personal investment in what the students are doing, but we want to present the stories and let people think what they think and feel what they feel. We hope they come away with a new perspective about these issues,” said Heldman.

NYU’s production of Finding Home: Our Stories runs March 22 at 8 p.m., March 23 at 8 p.m., March 24 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and March 25 at 3 p.m. at Provincetown Playhouse (133 MacDougal Street). Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students; seniors; and NYU faculty, staff, and alumni (limit 2 per ID). For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at tickets.nyu.edu, call 212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South). 

Finding Home: Our Stories features direction by Dianna Heldman, assistant direction by Harolyn Blackwell, music supervision by Ryan Driscoll, music direction and orchestrations by Bob Kelly, production stage management by Marisa Kilgallen, movement direction by Bill Bowers, set design by Daryl Embry, lighting and projection design by James Kolditz, costume design by Michelle E Humphrey, and props design by Max Neuman. The cast features NYU Steinhardt students Matthew Anderson, Stephanie Bacastow, Madeline Bernstein, Mackenzie Bykowski, Dongyang Fei, Yoomi Kim, Imani Lherisson, Garrett Shin, Bern Tan, and Geraldine Valente. Additional book material is inspired by works from Miriam Jordan, Nicola Davies, Warsan Shire, and Brian Bilston.

About NYU Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions
Steinhardt’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions, established in 1925, instructs over 1,600 students majoring in music and performing arts programs. Music and Performing Arts Professions serves as NYU’s “school” of music and is a major research and practice center in music technology, music business, music composition, film scoring, songwriting, music performance practices, performing arts therapies, and the performing arts-in- education (music, dance, and drama).

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