Those of us familiar with Queens know the diversity of the borough we love and call home.
There are the 138 reported languages spoken throughout the neighborhoods. Also look at the food; on one busy block there’s the gyro shop next to an Italian bread shop next to the Polish deli. The mix of cultures is evident.
The Queens Symphony Orchestra has been celebrating these cultures with a three weekend festival, “1001 Voices: Discover the Immigrant Experience in Queens.”
The free festival not only included events each weekend beginning on April 14, but also linked 72 other cultural organizations together via QSO pamphlets and its website.
“It’s free, as to reach more people. The festival shouldn’t be just about the symphony, but about Queens,” said QSO Executive Director Lynda Herndon.
It may be the festival’s first year, but the symphony has put on a three-show series — just not all in the same month— every year for going on 59 years.
“By the time we reach 75 we hope we will become a staple in the borough. So everyone can know to come to Queens for this festival and have Queens be a cultural staple,” said Herndon.
The festival ends this Sunday, April 29 with a multimedia symphony performance, which bears the festival’s name: “1001 Voices.” The symphony is about migration and finding home. Audience members will hear poetic text, original scores and ethnic instruments and view artistic projections.
QSO Music Director Constantine Kitsopoulos began working with Judith Sloan, who put together a book of immigrant stories from Queens called “Crossing the BLVD,” on the symphony piece in 2009. These immigrant stories are the backbone of the theme.
The duo also worked with Sloan’s husband, Warren Lehrer, and animator Brandon Campbell to create an animation and graphics to go with the show.
The score was written by Grammy-winner Frank London of The Klezmatics and Hasidic New Wave.
The night will begin with a family- friendly performance of “Gauchito and the Pony,” an opera about a cowboy and his pony making their way home to Texas from South America.
When: Concert: April 29, 3 p.m. (preview concert lecture April 26, 6 p.m. at Hillcrest Library)
Where: Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing