I think that everybody left the performance having the sense that they were much bigger than just themselves - that they were part of a community. It gave them the sense that they were neighbors.
— Ellen Kodadek, Executive & Artistic Director, Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts
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RAKONTO: Melting Pot       

A portrait of an immigrant neighborhood in New York City.

Daniel interviewed dozens of people including students, senior citizens, business owners, children in after-school programs, musicians, people at churches and social service organizations in one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country, Flushing, Queens, New York City. The neighborhood is one of the best examples of the “melting pot” idea that is central to the American Dream – that people from all over the world come to the USA to make a new life for themselves and their families.

The recorded voices of these people – immigrants as well as people who had lived in the neighborhood for almost 90 years – were interwoven with music performed by a Daniel’s stellar ensemble in an imaginative musical ode to the community, creating an opportunity for their voices and stories to be heard in a new way.

This piece features incredibly talented NYC-based musicians who have impressive careers in their own right: Rez Abbasi – guitar, Yoon Sun Choi – vocals, Satoshi Takeishi – drums, David Ambrosio – bass. This piece also features the talents of Min Xiao-Fen on Chinese Pipa who has collaborated with Bjork, Randy Weston and John Zorn, among many others.

Commissioned by Flushing Town Hall, 2011

Rakonto.” In Esperanto it means “story.” In jazz pianist-composer Daniel Kelly’s masterful composition, it is a thrilling musical journey of immigrant voices as represented by recorded interviews intertwined with the virtuosic playing and singing of Kelly’s musicians, especially vocalist Yoon Sun Choi and pipa master Min Xiao-Fen. This multi-layered piece demands repeated listening, all to the delight of the audience.
— Frank Juliano, Executive Director, Reeves-Reed Arboretum
Daniel Kelly’s piece ‘Rakonto’ blew me away. It engaged me on every level. The melodies, the harmony, the words, the instrumentation, the whole idea! It was brilliantly conceived and executed. It was so moving it practically brought me to tears.
— Joel Harrison, Guggenheim Award-winning composer, guitarist & educator
That is something I never thought of doing: recording my experiences as an immigrant. It’s inspired me to record my relatives who are in their 80’s
— Martha Cruz, teacher, Flushing High School