UTSA alumnus produces films about African immigrant music in Texas

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Nigerian-American performers in Houston

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(June 24, 2011)--Aaron Carter-Cohn, a May 2011 UTSA graduate with a Master of Music degree in choral conducting, will host a screening of two documentary films his produced on immigrant and refugee music in Texas. Free and open to the public, the screenings are 6:30 p.m., Saturday, June 25 in the Parish Hall at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 4242 Bluemel Road.

The screenings of "At Home with Music: Burundian Refugees in America" and "Texas Celebrates Fifty Years of Nigerian Independence" are in conjunction with United Nation's World Refugee Day, observed this week.

"At Home with Music: Burundian Refugees in America" follows a family of 10 that has spent the majority of their lives as refugees, going back and forth between Burundi and Tanzania. The father is a preacher and the children are musically gifted, so they start a church with services in the Swahili language for themselves and other refugees in San Antonio.

The film focuses on their use of technology and how it has changed their music making as well as the role of language and culture in their lives and their music.

"In 2007, I spent a year following the refugees living in northwest San Antonio, just trying to observe their daily lives," said Carter-Cohn.

The second film, "Texas Celebrates Fifty Years of Nigerian Independence" takes place in Houston, the home of one of the largest communities of Nigerians outside of Nigeria. Last October marked the 50th anniversary of sovereign rule, and in commemoration, Nigerian-American musicians, comedians, dancers and actors, put together a Jubilee Concert. The film highlights the concert and provides interviews to form a narrative on expatriate Nigerian culture in Texas.

"The documentary shows how they preserve culture through singing," said Carter-Cohn. "The children learn about their culture and where they came from."

Carter-Cohn, a recipient of the Alvarez Research Fellowship in the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts, will show the documentaries at the International Council of Traditional Music World Conference July 13-19 in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

Following the conference, Carter-Cohn plans to move to Nigeria to work as a church organist.

For more information, contact Aaron Carter-Cohn at 210-723-1480.