Connecticut, U.S.A.— A recent benefit concert for Integrated Refugee and
Immigrant Services, a charity that helps refugees settle in the United States,
brought together people from around the world to celebrate America’s freedom.
music professor Neely Bruce conducted his composition honoring the Bill of
Rights in the hypermodern auditorium at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High
School to help raise money for IRIS, an organization that has assisted refugees
to settle in the greater New Haven area since 1982.
needs to get out. We need to celebrate this program,” said Chris George, the
executive director of IRIS.
that Bruce’s The Bill of Rights: Ten Amendments in Eight Motets was a
perfect fit for IRIS, as the group often deals with “refugees deprived of their
he loved “the creativity, the daring and the social action” shown by Bruce.
the concert, Bruce said that he was “very pleased” with the performance.
alive,” he joked.
been rehearsed in bits and pieces,” said Bruce, so he wasn’t sure it would come
together it did.
very good,” said Tom Belviso, one concertgoer. The piece is an “interesting
concept, seems to be something you could work with,” he said.
said he thought Bruce’s musical tribute to the Bill of Rights could be effective
in helping high school students learn about the Constitution, which was the
composer’s original intention.
being a part of it,” said Mira Reym Binford, who read part of the First
Amendment. “It was wonderful to immerse myself in the Bill of Rights.”
communications professor at Quinnipiac University, was a refugee herself. She
survived the Holocaust in Poland and came to America at the age of 11.
Kifle, 13, said IRIS has done a lot for her.
“I am a
part of IRIS,” Kifle said. “My mom took me here to get better opportunities.”
to America at the age of seven from Ethiopia. While she said America has a lot to
offer, “our family keeps grounded in our culture.”
Rohbar, a 12-year-old from Afghanistan who now lives in Connecticut, said her
family, too, got help from IRIS to come to the United States.
was young in Afghanistan, during the last years of Taliban rule, people were
never outdoors and there were hardly any cars.
America, everybody’s outside and in cars,” Rohbar said.
said, “You can go vote and everything.”