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La Frontera: Stories of Migration in Movement

Composer Raul Abbad will compose a piece for New Jersey Youth Symphony and Inner City Ensemble with themes of migration and identity.


We are all immigrants. The story of migration is a universal story echoed throughout our shared history.

With the support of New Music USA, New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) seeks to commission an original composition by Raul Abbad to create a performance that celebrates the stories of immigrants through music and dance. The dance component will be performed by The Inner City Ensemble, a youth dance group from Paterson, NJ.

Peruvian composer Raul Abbad will create a 20 minute multi-movement piece for string orchestra and percussion that honors the journey of migrants and ties together this common human experience, drawing upon his extensive experience performing and composing classical, Latin, jazz, and fusion music. The composition can be performed by a chamber group (string quintet, dancer and percussion) which will allow for it to be presented in various venues and communities.  In fall 2020, Abbad will work closely with Helen H. Cha-Pyo, Artistic Director and Lead Conductor of New Jersey Youth Symphony, to rehearse this piece with youth musicians in NJYS’s Youth Symphony—its premier ensemble of 100 of high school students. Inner City Ensemble Executive Director and Choreographer, Nicholas Rodriguez, will choreograph a dance interpretation to accompany the musical performance.

Raul Abbad will draw upon his own experiences as an immigrant to the United States. In his own words:

“A project like this gives voice to the marginalized in our society. I often compose music that bridges my two worlds of Peru and the United States. By bringing Peruvian, African, and other Latin influences into the classical music space, traditional music is carried forward in new spaces and brought to new audiences. My music is the music of migration, it’s about creating new spaces culturally, musically, spiritually, and physically. My philosophy of composing and sharing music is to create a product that reflects working, regular people and to share their authentic stories and struggles. This project is a perfect opportunity for me to continue sharing people’s stories and voices and to reflect my story as an immigrant, moving from Lima, Peru to Elizabeth, NJ.”

This project will culminate in two concerts featuring the New Jersey Youth Orchestra and Inner City Ensemble performing the new work. The first concert will be at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University in January 2021. The second concert will be for Paterson Public School students at Rosa L Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts in Paterson, NJ.

We are committed to this project because there is great educational value to students and audiences alike. Classically trained youth musicians will expand their musical vocabularies through learning this new classical-Latin fusion composition. Everyone benefits from honoring each other’s journey as migrants in life. The performance will be documented in video and shared online.

Project Media

Highlights from Inner City Ensemble’s “Where Have You Gone, Trayvon – A Dance Theater Response”
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Highlights from Inner City Ensemble’s “Where Have You Gone, Trayvon – A Dance Theater Response” (2019). This performance was choreographed by Nicholas Rodriguez and was made possible with support from the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council with funding from a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks grant.

Suris by Raul Abbad
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Features: Raul Abbad

This is an original composition by Raul Abbad, composed for the Afro-Peruvian Jazz Band “Bajopontino” – called “Suris,” it’s a cumbia. Please focus on minutes 1:10-2:10.

Raul Abbad- Guitar
Pete Abazia – Drum Set
Hector Morales – Cajon and Percussion
Moto Fukushima – Bass
Cesar Orozco – Piano
Liz Moulthrop – Violin
Meredith Foreman – Saxophone
Caleb Rumley – Trombone

Video – Peter Brensinger

NJYS 40th Anniversary Performance of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff

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New Jersey Youth Symphony’s 40th anniversary performance at New Jersey Performing Arts Center featured NJ soloists Mia Pafumi (soprano), Theron Cromer (tenor), and John-Andrew Fernandez (baritone) as well as the combined forces of NJYS, J.P Stevens High School Chorus, Newark Academy Chorus, New Providence High School Chorus, Ridge High School A Cappella Honors Choir, Somerville High School Chorus, and the Newark Boys Chorus. It featured a string orchestra of 100 instrumentalists and was conducted by Helen H. Cha-Pyo.

Start and End Dates



New Providence, New Jersey

Project Created By

New Providence, New Jersey
The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) is the premier provider of musical education to almost 500 of the state’s most talented young artists in grades 3 through 12. NJYS sets the standard for orchestral excellence through its 15 ensembles led by our staff of experienced and renowned conductors, many of whom are known throughout the…

In Collaboration With

Hillside, New Jersey
choreographer, performer
Paterson, New Jersey


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