50 states, 243 years of history, over 327 million people today — the United States of America is built on a massive platform of human experiences. Independence Day celebrates the nation’s dedication to freedom and opportunity for all. While we have come a long way and have plenty further to go in fully living up to that cause, the 4th of July serves as a reminder of what, and who, makes America unique. This summer, PARMA is celebrating Independence Day with music that nods to America, its land, and the many human experiences that make up the nation’s history, culture, and sense of freedom.

Search “American landscapes” online, and you’ll be flooded with vibrant, powerful, and strikingly diverse images. From plunging canyons to sea-sprayed New England shores, America’s natural and urban scenes are as diverse and awe-inspiring as its people.

Imagine what these landscapes look like to someone arriving in America for the first time after leaving their home country to create a new life abroad. Zhen Chen describes it in his liner notes for the album ON & BETWEEN (which tells the story of a young woman moving from China to America) as a “feeling of excitement and fear caused by the anticipation of the future and nostalgia of the past.“ This mixed bag of emotions is the history for many people who now call America home.

Of course, a true sense of belonging in any new land is challenging to find, and conflict can arise as different people come in contact with each other. However, as composer Sergio Cervetti poignantly puts it, “there is some measure of comfort that music abolishes borders.” 243 years in, and plenty of ups and downs along the way, the quickest road towards connection (other than music) is an open mind and focus on the ideals of freedom and love even in an imperfect world.

So for our U.S. listeners this summer, celebrate where America has been and the beauty that makes it up today, and keep finding ways to strive towards a better, even more open-minded tomorrow. Oh, and don’t forget the fireworks.