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ELLIS ISLAND: THE DREAM OF AMERICA
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

January, 2011

Join the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for a spectacular concert experience that explores the musical and cultural heritage of America. These performances will showcase FWSO composer-in-residence Peter Boyer and his most ambitious work to date, Ellis Island: The Dream of America, which uses actors, images from the Ellis Island archives and music to recreate the experience of the American immigrant. Two works by Samuel Barber, one of the most innovative composers of the 20th century, are also on the program: the Pulitzer Prize-winning Piano Concerto, Op. 38, which will be performed by Leon McCawley, and the achingly beautiful Adagio for Strings, which will be featured Saturday and Sunday only. Music Director Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts.

The concerts take place March 4, 5 and 6 at Bass Performance Hall and begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 - $79 and are available at www.fwsymphony.org or 817-665-6000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              817-665-6000      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Learn more about the music and meet Peter Boyer at Symphonic Insights, hosted by Shields-Collins “Buddy” Bray, principal keyboardist of the FWSO. The interactive lecture series takes place one hour before each concert in the audience chamber.

Ellis Island: The Dream of America celebrates the historic American immigrant experience and the American dream. Innovative in its format, the work brings elements of the theatre and multimedia into the concert hall, employing actors and projected historical images from the Ellis Island archives. 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 beginning in 1910 through 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.

Since its premiere in 2002, Ellis Island: The Dream of America has enjoyed tremendous success, becoming one of the most performed American orchestral works of the last decade. Boyer’s recording of Ellis Island with the Philharmonia Orchestra and a cast of renowned stage and screen actors was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition in 2006.

Peter Boyer has emerged in recent years as one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of his generation. His orchestral works have received well over 250 public performances, by more than ninety orchestras. He has conducted recordings of his music with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia. His works have received national broadcasts in the U.S. and abroad. He has received seven national awards for his work, including two BMI Awards for young composers, the First Music Carnegie Hall commission, and the Lancaster Symphony Composer’s Award. His music has been performed by the Dallas, Nashville, Pacific, Phoenix, Kansas City, Virginia and Hartford symphony orchestras, the Brooklyn and Buffalo philharmonic orchestras, and dozens of others. Conductor Keith Lockhart chose Boyer for the Boston Pops 125th anniversary commission honoring the legacy of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy. Acclaimed actors Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Cherry Jones narrated the premiere of Boyer’s The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers in May 2010, which was attended by many members of the Kennedy family, and received extensive national media attention.

Leon McCawley is one of England’s finest young pianists. Championing core classical repertoire together with the unknown, his recordings and performances have impressed critics far and wide. He frequently performs with Britain’s leading orchestras including the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, and the Hallé, Royal Scottish National. He has also appeared with the Adelaide, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minnesota, and Philadelphia orchestras and the Malaysian and Netherlands philharmonics. He made his New York recital debut at the Frick Collection in 2006. Other acclaimed recitals include those at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, Philharmonie and Konzerthaus in Berlin, Miami International Piano Festival, Prinzregententheater in Munich, Musikverein in Vienna, Rudolfinum in Prague, KennedyCenter, and Tonhalle in Zurich. This season he debuts at Seoul's Kumho Recital Hall World Celebrity Series and LincolnCenter.  At age 19, McCawley won First Prize in the Ninth International Beethoven Piano Competition in Vienna and Second Prize in the Leeds International Competition, building on his earlier success as winner of the Piano Section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year.

These concerts are part of the American Airlines Symphonic Series and are made possible by season sponsors American Airlines, Star-Telegram, North Texas Audi Dealers and Renaissance Worthington Hotel. Promotional support is provided by Star-Telegram and WRR Classical 101.1 FM.

For tickets, visit www.fwsymphony.org or call 817-665-6000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              817-665-6000      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.



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