CMU School of Drama

Friday, March 31, 2017

British-Iranian composer nearly banned from her debut opera on immigration

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: After President Donald Trump signed the executive order for his first travel ban on Jan. 27, British-Iranian composer Soosan Lolavar of London was unsure if she could attend the world premiere Saturday of her new opera in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Lolavar, 29, was born and raised in London, but her father was Iranian. Her dual citizenship, which allowed her to carry two passports, led to banishment from re-entering the country she called home last year. She had previously studied Iranian music at Carnegie Mellon University under a Fulbright Scholarship.

6 comments:

Kelly Simons said...

This is truly and completely disappointing and horrifying. These travel bans are absurd, and the entire nation should obviously recognize that these travel bans are just a ploy for our president to get the racist and xenophobic citizens even more on his side. I’m very pleased that Ms. Lolavar was able to make it to the United States for the premiere of her opera. And it’s also awesome that it was happening in Pittsburgh! Immigration is such a hot button topic recently that it is so fitting that Ms. Lolavar’s opera is : “ID, Please,” which premieres Saturday night at Pittsburgh Opera headquarters in the Strip District follows the story of a border agent interrogating an assortment of passengers.” While I am glad that Ms. Lolavar was able to come over, these new laws, especially the immigration strangle, hold make me extremely concerned for the future of the United States.

Tahirah K. Agbamuche said...

There is a painful about of irony in Lolavar’s story. Her opera, and works just like it, are exactly the form of action we as artists need to be taking. Art can reach so many people’s hearts, and if we all chip in, in our various forms, we can make a difference. The travel ban infuriates me. What happened to, “A Diverse America”? Our country is where it is today due to the idea’s of immigrants and innovators. Cutting off unique minds will only limit and stifle future development. She is a prime example about why the ban can only hurt us; She was a student here at CMU, expanding on her culture and now she has collaborated with our own and made something amazing. She is clearly contributing. Many immigrants come to this country to pursue dreams and contribute. This is a GREAT thing and much more than many who reside in this country are currently doing.

Megan Jones said...

The fact that these travel bans are happening and some people are happy about it is both disgusting and saddening. People are being shut out of our country simply because of where they were born, which really flies in the face of the principle of "freedom" that even many of Trump's supporters believe in. I first heard about this specific situation when one of my roommates who's working on the production told me about it. It really says a lot that the composer of an opera about interrogation about the border was not able to enter the country it was premiering due to the travel ban. This has also made me reflect a lot upon my own situation, as I also immigrated to the US. I was very privileged to have been able to have an easy path to citizen, as my mom's job facilitated our move from Wales. However, other people have to struggle to even get a chance a visa, or now may be not even be heard simply because of where they are from. I am very lucky to be able to live and go to school in the US, and wish the government would see that immigration makes the country stronger instead of being blinded by racism and hate.

Emma Reichard said...

Look at what we are closing our borders to. This is just of several cases of incredible, intelligent, and important people being terrified and excluded because of the ridiculous travel ban. There was a letter circulating from several of the nation’s top colleges (including CMU) discussing how detrimental this policy was for their student hailing from those seven countries. And how much worse it will be in terms of the applicant pool in coming years should the ban continue or be re-iterated. There were also Oscar nominees who didn’t think they’d be able to attend the ceremony due to the ban. In the few days the ban was enforced before being overturned (thank you, court justices), we saw the exclusion of artists, thinkers, creators, and geniuses. And the exclusion of thousands of hardworking, kind people, some of whom sacrificed everything to get to the United States only to be turned away at customs. Ms. Lolavar is not alone in her story, and while it has a happy ending, it should have never been an issue from the start.

Antonio Ferron said...

It's so sad to hear that modern artists are having to go through these kinds of struggles right now. Everyday the effects of Truml's administration begins to feel more and more personal for me, and this added to that. Thankfully Soosan Lolavar is a dual citizen and was able to come to Pittsburgh for hbe premiere of her Opera. It's saddens me to picture this woman never having the ability to see her own piece, and to be stopped by the same political force that her Opera was opposing. It just goes to show that we can never settle in the positions we are in. The world is constantly changing and you never know what may happen in the future. At one point in time Soosan Lovalar was studying right here at CMU, and just a few years later she is worrying about her ability to even step foot in this country. I'm sure Soosan is an extremely strong artist though, so this will not be holding her down.

Sasha Schwartz said...

It’s very disheartening to read about a CMU alum having this experience, especially considering a work literally called “ID Please”. I heard about this piece from my friend Cassidy who is assisting Jess on the media for this collection of operas happening in the Strip, but I had no idea that this was happening behind the scenes. It’s so crazy that a piece of art written to be dystopian can so quickly become a hyper realistic look at what is happening in our world right now. I can’t help but wonder if Soosan was able to pass through security relatively safely at the end of it all due to her physical appearance in relation to others who may be coming from other middle eastern countries. I will never know myself what it’s like to be an immigrant, but having two immigrant parents has given me a lot of insight into the amount of blatant discrimination that has taken place, before Trump’s administration and even more lately. I can only hope that by continuing to make art, people who may be being considered “un-American” at the moment will be able to be humanized and appreciated for being in a country that has been supported and has been allowed to thrive for hundreds of years by those who have come from a variety of other geographic locations.

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