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We are fortunate to live in a colorful city that provides access to a wide array of languages,

religion, culture, cuisine, music, and the arts. Still, wherever we are, it is human nature to judge

and be judged based on our ethnicity, skin color, gender, etc. I've learned from my share of

judgments, and I have also personally felt the sting of being judged; to be told to go back to my

own country as a little girl, to be banned from meeting a boyfriend’s family because I am not

white. I wanted to say, “If you only got to know me, I think you’d like me. If you were blind,

maybe you would see better.” There seems to be more emphasis on our differences, the us

versus them, the fear and discomfort of the unknown. How can we be more empathetic and

curious of one another, and lessen our tendency to prejudge?

In music, there are fewer boundaries that separate us. There are similarities in rhythms and

themes from all around the world. Music can affect our emotions even when we don't

understand the words.

In A Color-Coded Symphony, every performance is unique based the audience’s ethnic origins as

well as a different featured country for each show. Through this musical experience, we aim to

encourage curiosity towards other cultures and explore how we are connected to the rest of the



The first portion of the concert is in the dark, for when we listen with our eyes closed, we allow

more room to receive, be open and be touched by what we hear. In the dark we hear familiar and

unfamiliar songs and sounds as well as music from a featured country.

Attendees fill out an ethnic origin card from which we randomly pull from a jar during the next

portion of the concert. A 30-second audio of rhythms from those countries are played while a

backdrop projects a map of the world highlighting the region. The band then creates an

improvised piece inspired by the audio they just heard. Here is an example where an audience's

origin was Russia: WATCH VIDEO

A featured artist also performs a traditional piece celebrating music from their ethnic origin. Here

is Titania Buchholdt playing the Kulintang from the Philippines:


            by Aireene Espiritu



A Color-Coded Symphony is a performance piece that connects the audience’s ethnic origins to

rhythms of the world.

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