Yearlong project asking “What is American culture?” reaches halfway point

Contact: William Harvey
CHICAGO—A project in which a concert violinist travels to each state for one week, asking the question “What is American culture?”, has reached its halfway point. That occasion will be marked with an eclectic musical event and broadcast in Chicago, as well as a fundraiser in collaboration with acclaimed visual artist Eunice LaFate of Wilmington, Delaware.
During this presidential election year, Cultures in Harmony (CiH), a nonprofit promoting cultural understanding through music, has been collecting and sharing answers to the question posed by the project in order to celebrate and explore the many ways it is possible to define American culture. CiH founder William Harvey is traveling to every state for one week; Illinois is the 25th state. 
The occasion will be marked as follows:
  • Radio broadcast: On Thursday, June 23, at 2:00 p.m., William will appear on 98.7 WFMT-Chicago to discuss the project and perform American classical music by Philip Glass, Reena Esmail, Augusta Read Thomas, and Lera Auerbach with Milwaukee-based pianist Steven Ayers.
  • Concert (link to Facebook event page): On Thursday, June 23, at 6:30 p.m., at Jerry’s Sandwiches, 1938 W. Division St., Chicago, CiH and Classical Revolution will present “ENERGY: What is American culture? An eclectic music-fueled event.” The concert will explore the concept of American energy, whether defined as political energy or the sort that fuels our machines. Performers include renowned jazz singer Sarah Marie Young, winner of the 2011 Shure Montreux Vocal Competition; Steven Ayers, with whom William will perform George Antheil’s insane, ultra-modernist, finger-busting Sonata; versatile contemporary dancer Lanita Joseph, whose choreography has been performed in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston; Classical Revolution director and flutist Allie Deaver-Petchenik; and DJ Lauren Koors, a passionately committed DJ active in Chicago’s music scene. Intermingled with the music will be opportunities for the audience to share their own thoughts on American culture and what the concept of “energy” means to them, whether in cultural or environmental terms. Energy-inspired drinks will be available.
  • Fundraiser: Until July 31, 2016, half of all proceeds from sales of lithographs of “Melting Pot vs. Salad Bowl” by Eunice LaFate will support CiH’s “What is American culture?” project. William and Eunice collaborated during the Delaware week (March 13 to 20). William composed four pieces for solo violin based on Eunice’s paintings, including the one featured in this fundraising opportunity. Don’t miss this chance to own a beautiful and inspiring lithograph while supporting CiH’s work. The lithograph is available for purchase here.
Highlights of the American culture project so far include:
  • School residencies in which students are challenged to artistically express their own definitions of American culture
  • Public discussions and forums in most of the states visited so far
  • Videos showcasing a wide variety of definitions of American culture: the Kentucky video includes interviews with a gun store owner and a member of the New Black Panther Party
  • Public concerts in Connecticut, New York, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Maine
  • Perspectives reflecting the breadth of American society, from President Jimmy Carter and Mayor Tecklenburg of Charleston, South Carolina, to children from the Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine and men playing chess in a park in Jacksonville, Florida
  • A video filmed at the US Space and Rocket Center showcasing the role of the space program in defining American culture in Alabama
  • A video showing the breadth of culture in Tucker County, West Virginia, from an arts festival to a mud bog race
To explore highlights of the project by state, check out the project page here. To make a tax-deductible donation in support of this project and Cultures in Harmony’s international projects, click here.
Grassroots participation: Antidote to election-year politics?
You are invited to participate in the American Culture project in any way you choose:
  • Set up a discussion, performance, exhibit, or other event to probe the culture of your region and the USA
  • Take part in a performance or interview
  • Support the project with a donation 
  • Join the discussion on social media with the hashtag #americancultureis


Since 2005, Cultures in Harmony has conducted 40 projects promoting cultural understanding through music in 16 countries from Pakistan to Papua New Guinea. Its founder, William Harvey, studied violin at The Juilliard School and Indiana University, taught violin in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2014, and has performed solo with orchestras in the USA, Mexico, Argentina, and the Philippines.