I’m delighted that you will have an opportunity to hear my work Ellis Island: The Dream of America, for actors and orchestra at O Beautiful on November 17.
With words taken from interviews in the Ellis Island Oral History Project — real words of real people telling their own stories of coming to America — and a score composed for a full symphony orchestra, Ellis Island is a work which combines these elements in what I believe is a distinctive way. The combination of these compelling, true immigrant stories and the emotional power of an orchestra can be a powerful one.
The stories of Ellis Island are stories of journeys. My personal journey with this work has been a remarkable one, now stretching over 16 years — including the year I spent creating it — and encompassing countless memorable moments. When I composed Ellis Island and conducted its premiere in 2002, I could not have foreseen the impact that this work would have on my life. More than 170 performances have been given by 75 different orchestras to date. In all, well over 200,000 people have experienced this work live, and the work has been filmed for a PBS Great Performances program which will be telecast nationwide in 2018.
At every Ellis Island performance I have attended, the emotional reactions from audience members, and the personal stories and comments that they have shared — generally about how their own family members’ stories seem to have been reflected in the work — have been deeply meaningful to me. Clearly, these stories resonate with many Americans. I hope that the performance is a memorable one for you.
Composer, Ellis Island: The Dream of America