Between Two Worlds

An initiative to empower student and adult immigrants
to infuse aspects of their origins and cultural identity
into their work and creative practice.

Album coverInternationally renowned drummer, percussionist and composer George Lernis will offer a series of interactive concerts and workshops to immigrant students and creatives in Massachusetts and in other parts of the US. The concerts will raise awareness about certain musical traditions originating from the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and their potential evolution when combined respectfully with other other musical traditions, like jazz, originating in the US. The workshops will be designed to support and empower immigrants to be authentic in their own journey of identity and expression. 

The goal of this creative initiative Lernis will undertake along with Ose Schwab is to replace stereotypes of immigrants with a more accurate perspective that immigrants themselves can design as they create and showcase culturally resonant art, design, media, music, theater, film, business, etc. The first concert and workshop will take place June 18 and 23rd respectively. 


As an immigrant himself, also a victim of stereotypes, Lernis believes the authentic expression of one’s cultural and ethnic identity can be an antidote to the incomplete and often inaccurate narratives against immigrants and immigration in the U.S. Lernis believes that in a country like the US, the potential to build cohesion through different cultural traditions, backgrounds, race, religion, and philosophies is unlike any other country.

Such variety, however, also poses a challenge – especially when desparaging or simplistic profiles of various ethnicities or races and their traditions are propagated through media and entertainment sources. The answer, according to Lernis, can be to continue to do what he is already doing and share that with others:

  • infuse culture through an artistic practice, music in his case;
  • share the art and journey with audiences, fellow immigrants, communities, universities, and conservatories;
    build up a supportive community of artists who have found ways to express culture and ethnicity through the arts, media and other creative disciplines as part of a welcome identity.In this way,
  • the growing and various expressions of the myriad of people coming to the United States can be experienced through artistic and media outlets – which over time can replace the destructive stereotypes that limit perspectives of vast numbers of talented and contributing community members in the US.

Elements of the project

Interactive Concerts

Interactive and multimedia concerts and talkbacks held in communities and at universities or conservatories to expose audiences to a combination of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and jazz musical traditions composed by George Lernis. 

The concerts will start with a short immigrant story or sharing about immigrant research. Lernis’ music will be performed with personal interjections. 

During the music, videos of various profiles of people or other complementary visuals will be projected onto a wall. 

Following the music, the audience will be invited to ask questions about the music, process of composing the music, or the experience of finding an authentic voice as a composer.

Conversation with George Lernis

Direct empowerment of immigrants through a series of fireside chats with George Lernis that encourage student and adult immigrants to express cultural and ethnic heritage more freely. Lernis will use his own example as a bi-musical immigrant and artist – first in Cyprus, then in the US, to share his journey of going beyond the institutional mainstream inputs to creating music, and having the courage to incorporate the musical traditions he grew up with and loves into his own jazz compositions.

Panels and roundtable discussions

Generative dialogue about cultural identity and exchange to create something new as expressed through music followed by a concert showcasing the work of panelist musicians representing two or more very different traditional styles connected by jazz, respect for traditional music, and care for humanity.


Forming a supportive community to inspire and help immigrants find and express their authentic voice, especially as shared through the arts, media, or other creative disciplines. As Lernis holds various workshops and finds collaborators who are like-minded, a directory and website of these cultural practitioners will be made available as inspiration, coaching and guidance for other immigrant artists, institutions, or community leaders. 

The goal will be to build up this body of cultural practitioners, people who deliberately infuse their origins in how they live, express, and operate in the US – with consideration for what it means to belong in the US – drawing on culture as an enhancement of identity and a potential fusion of worlds and creative traditions, ultimately overshadowing the destructive stereotypes of immigrants.

News and Media

Reviews and Articles



Recording of a Panel discussion on “Integrating cultural diversity through music”

October 2022. A panel discussion on the third day of the Culture Summit 2022 in Abu Dhabi, held to “address the theme of A Living Culture and reconsider the potential of collectivity, cultivating culture ecosystems, and embracing culture as lived experience.” 

About the panel discussion: Award-winning pianist, composer, and educator Danilo Pérez believes that a united global perspective for the arts and social justice are the keys to moving humanity forward in harmony. Pérez has convened his Global Jazz Project –gifted Berklee Global Jazz Institute members such as alumni George Lernis (Cyprus) and Berklee faculty Patricia Zàrate Pérez (Chile). Joining them will be renowned oud player Charbel Rouhana (Lebanon) and seasoned media executive and current CEO of the Latin Recording Academy Manuel Abud (Mexico/United States). Artistic Director of Berklee Abu Dhabi and singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa (Lebanon/ United States) will be guiding the conversation –
to contribute their respective cultural learnings and personal experiences with the goal of building community through
music, without borders.

Moderator: Mayssa Karaa, Artistic Director, Berklee Abu Dhabi


  • Danilo Pérez
  • Patricia Zàrate Pérez
  • George Lernis
  • Charbel Rouhana
  • Manuel Abud, CEO, Latin Recording Academy

June 2021 Between Two Worlds Album Release Concert

Video by Christo Tsiaras

Past Events

Concert, June 18

George Lernis celebrated the release of his new album “Between Two Worlds” with a concert. (photo by Keren He). Program.

Future Events

DRUMS, percussion instruments

Concert TBD

Internationally-recognized drummer, percussionist and composer George Lernis celebrates the release of his new album “Between Two Worlds” with a concert, brief introductory remarks about what it means to be an immigrant and help immigrants thrive in the US. Concert follows with Q/A. (Photo by Keren He)

Fireside Chat with George Lernis TBD

By engaging in informal conversation as he shares his own creative journey as composer, George Lernis will help student and adult immigrants be inspired to consider the cultural influences that feel resonant and authentic in creative output and sense of identity.

Panel Discussion

Panel discussion about cultural identity and crossovers among artists.

Creative Conversation TBD

Join a virtual conversation to share your creative ideas and practice your English. Details and date for first session forthcoming. Stay tuned.