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September 09/17/21, 2021
An homage to her Jewish ancestors, who fled the Russian pogroms, Lisa Swerdlow hopes the music offers solace for anyone trying to build a better life in America. An accomplished pianist and composer of classical crossover and contemporary instrumental music, announces the debut of her Coming to America Concerto, a dynamic and cinematic exploration of a journey of Russian immigrants, told in three movements. It released globally on all digital platforms, and is also available in physical CD format from Bandcamp. Swerdlow will perform the concerto live at The Center for the Arts on November 13, 2021 as part of the Ten Hands - 88 Keys concert in Grass Valley, CA.

Swerdlow considers herself a storyteller, and this is the story of her grandparents, who in the early 1900s, escaped the pogroms of Russia and found refuge in a new land. The Coming to America Concerto blends musical voices with sweeping layered piano-driven instrumentation including clarinet, cello, flute, oboe, and violin. The musical journey moves from pensive and reflective to more uplifting melodies, as the story evolves from difficult circumstances in the homeland, to rousing aural images of hope in New York Harbor.

“Last year, I started researching my grandparents’ immigration to the United States from Russia (and what is now Ukraine) in the years 1907-1910 due to persecution of the Jewish people,” says Swerdlow. “I reflected on the courage it must have taken for them to leave their homeland of many centuries, their family and friends, to sail to a foreign country they had barely heard of called 'America.' The music came to me, and I started writing.”

"The inspiration for composing the Coming To America Concerto came during the long Covid-19 quarantine. As I spent days, weeks and eventually months in my home, I started researching my grandparents’ immigration to the United States from Russia (and what is now Ukraine) in the years 1907-1910 due to persecution of the Jewish people. I reflected on the courage it must have taken for them to leave their homeland of many centuries, their family and friends, to sail to a foreign country they had barely heard of called “America.” Had these villagers and townspeople not made that sacrifice, I would not have been born here, in this country that--even with all its flaws and dark eras of history--has given me so many freedoms and choices not available to the current people of Russia and Ukraine.

"I dedicate this concerto to my Grandparents, and to all the immigrants who come to this country called “America” in search of safety and the promise of Hope."

The Movements

First Movement: Home of My Ancestors
This Russian klezmer-themed movement tells the tale of life in the Jewish ghettos and villages of late 19th and early 20th century Russia. Life had its joys and celebrations as well as its fears, especially of the Czar’s army showing up to desecrate what the villagers most loved and valued: their traditions, their homes, their temples. But, the Jewish people were and are resilient people who keep their spirits alive, even in the face of adversity. Finally, the time came for them to seek a new homeland.

Second Movement: The Crossing
In this movement, I imagined my Grandparents carrying what possessions they could, living in cramped steerage quarters far below deck on a huge ocean liner such as the Mauritania. The music captures the journey: feeling seasick, longing for their homeland, the great trepidation of crossing an endless ocean bound for “America,” which was probably more of a concept to them than an actual place. Their uncertainty is matched only by their determination to best the conditions on board; sometimes they dream of home.

Third Movement: The Arrival
At long last, they step onto the deck of the ship. Their excitement and anticipation grows as they make out New York Harbor on the horizon. The huge ship’s engines grind into reverse, as the shoreline grows closer and the harbor becomes clear. The reality dawns: a new life is awaiting them, in a country where they don’t speak the language, don’t understand its currency, and don’t have any friends or relatives waiting for them. Still, as they sail next to the Statue of Liberty, they understand her welcoming message, feeling grateful for their new homeland.

Lisa began studying classical piano at the age of six, and by age 16, she was writing and performing songs on piano and guitar. She went on to study music theory and composition at Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods. Lisa's early musical influences range from Laura Nyro and Carole King to Harry Belafonte and Burt Bacharach. Later in life, she was drawn to the piano music of Keith Jarrett, David Lanz, Eddy Palmieri, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Barbara Higbie and Mary Watkins.

In the 1970s, Lisa performed in coffee houses on Fairfax Avenue in L.A. and went on to play piano in a rock 'n' roll band in San Francisco. In the 1980s she performed at the West Coast Women's Music Festival, and soon after toured Northern California with a ten-piece all women salsa band called Las Malandras. These genres have influenced her unique composing style, and Lisa has moved into more complex orchestration and arrangements in recent years.

Swerdlow's America is a concept of refuge as well as a land of new opportunities. America can be the first choice for a new start, but sometimes it was also the last resort after losing everything. Her concerto tells a story of loss and disaster, which resolves into a positive message of inspiration, survival and spiritual endurance.

The music was recorded at Piano Haven Studio, in Sedona, AZ. It was engineered by Joe Bongiorno, orchestrated by Doug Hammer, and mastered at Dreamworld Productions. The EP is available in various formats including physical CD, digital download, and streaming worldwide; Swerdlow's music can be found on Spotify playlists including Calming Piano and Strings, Elegant Music, Romantic Piano Moods, and many more.

Coming to America Concerto - Tracklist
"Movement 1: Home of My Ancestors" (3:36)
"Movement 2: The Crossing" (3:41)
"Movement 3: The Arrival" (3:42)

Buy, stream or download the Coming to America Concerto by Lisa Swerdlow from the platform of your choice: http://hyperurl.co/t9pn0h

Links:
Official website - http://lisaswerdlow.com/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/lisaswerdlow/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LisaSwerdlowPiano/
Bandcamp - https://lisaswerdlow1.bandcamp.com/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/LisaSwerdlow
Concert Tix - https://thecenterforthearts.org/event/ten-hands-88-keys/

Preview: Coming to America Concerto
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBi2JygDpz4