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Upcoming performance to include Peter Boyer's exciting multimedia symphony, "Ellis Island: The Dream of America"
The Salisbury Symphony Orchestra will break new ground in March as they offer the unique offering of a symphony performance complete with a movie screen and live narrators. The Los Angeles Times called it "A work of rare authenticity and directness," and the Hartford Courant describes the piece as "A searing emotional experience."
The Symphony's concert, entitled "Dream of America," will showcase Boyer's 2001 multimedia/symphonic collaboration piece "Ellis Island: The Dream of America," a composition which celebrates the historic American immigrant experience and the American dream. Innovative in its format, the work brings elements of the theater and multimedia together in the concert hall, employing actors and projected historical images from the Ellis Island archives.
Composer Peter Boyer
The spoken texts for the work come from the Ellis Island Oral History Project, an historic collection of interviews with actual immigrants about their experiences emigrating to America. After extensive research in this archive, Boyer chose the stories of seven immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island from disparate nations between 1910-1940. He fashioned short monologues from the actual words of these immigrants, and wove them into an orchestral tapestry which frames and comments on their stories—by turns poignant, humorous, moving, and inspiring. The work concludes with a reading of the Emma Lazarus poem The New Colossus (“Give me your tired, your poor…”), providing an emotionally powerful ending to this celebration of our nation of immigrants.
Ellis Island: The Dream of America was commissioned by The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, in celebration of the inaugural season of its Belding Theatre. It was premiered by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer, with actors from the New York stage, directed by Martin Charnin, at the Bushnell in April 2002. The premiere was broadcast on National Public Radio’s SymphonyCast program in July 2002.