CWU News

CWU Explores the Immigrant Experience through Music

As part of a campus-wide dialogue on migration, the Central Washington University Department of Music will present “Immigrant Voices: A Musical Exploration of the Immigration Experience and Identity.”

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this in the music department,” said Gayla Blaisdell, associate professor of voice and opera. “We’ve come up with a program that is really diverse and that’s something I was really hoping for. It’s not going to be your typical classical music concert.”

The free, public concert will be held at 7:00 p.m. on February 24, in McIntyre Concert Hall; a reception will follow. Parking is free in all university lots after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, except in residential housing lots and in specially designated spaces.

Blaisdell said the concert will include music of many genres, including some pop music which is a departure from the classical and jazz concerts normally offered. The music for the concert was chosen to support the overall theme of migration first and foremost.

For example, students will read a scene that focuses on migrant workers from the 1970s musical, Working. They will then perform "Un Mejor Dia Vendra," written by folk legend James Taylor, along with Mary Rodgers and Stephen Schwarz.

Approximately 50 students and more than a half-dozen faculty will be involved with the performance; some students will be directing while some will perform. Blaisdell herself will sing "To this we've come," an aria from The Consul, an opera that focuses on the experience of an Eastern European immigrant during the Cold War. 

Before each performance, the students or faculty will give a brief history of each piece so the audience has an idea of what the composition is expressing. For example, nine students will perform the compelling "Por Si Acaso No Regreso," [Just in Case I Don't Return] a Cuban song by Celia Cruz. Blaisdell and her graduate student, Tatiana Kruse, discovered the ballad while researching the music of immigration.

Blaisdell said along with her opera aria performance the concert will also include an opera chorus, chamber choir, and instrumental music.

“I like the fact the concert is diverse with musical styles and lots of different students performing in it,” she said.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Music, the Office of Continuing Education, and CWU Social Justice and Human Rights Dialogue. Persons of disability may make arrangements for reasonable accommodation by calling 509-963-1216 or by emailing

For more information, contact the Music Department a 509-963-1216.

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,