Program 105

"The Dream of America"

Play List


1. Peter Boyer: Ellis Island: The Dream of America, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Peter Boyer with actors directed by Martin Charnin reading texts from the Ellis Island Oral History Project [Naxos 8.559246, tracks 1 - 15] [43:31]

2. Henri Vieuxtemps: Yankee Doodle, performed by Transatlantic [Cypress CYP9615, track 5] [5:13]

3. John Philip Sousa: The Stars and Stripes Forever, as arranged for piano and played by James Raphael [Ars Musici AM 1333-2] [2:39]

Script


MUSIC: clip from the prologue to Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America [under the following]

You are listening to a clip from the prologue to Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America the likes of which we’ll hear in its entirety on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

MUSIC: fades out

What was it like to be one of the millions of immigrants coming to America through Ellis Island early in the 20th century? Boyer's composition brings that experience to life in a unique and powerful way, combining elements of symphonic music, theater and history to celebrate the American immigrant experience.
Boyer chose stories from the Ellis Island Oral History Project, wove them together into a narrative describing the hopes, dreams and struggles of these individuals, and composed dramatic and evocative symphonic music which frames and amplifies these stories.

The Naxos American Classics recording features a cast of renowned stage and screen actors -- including Eli Wallach, Olympia Dukakis, Barry Bostwick, Blair Brown, Anne Jackson, Bebe Neuwirth and Louis Zorich. They join with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by the composer in bringing to life the actual words of these real American immigrants. The work closes with a stirring reading of Emma Lazarus's "The New Colossus," with its famous line: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." This is the classic poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Peter Boyer was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1970, and began composing at the age of 15. His first large-scale composition was a 40-minute Requiem Mass in memory of his grandmother, composed while only a teenager. He received national acclaim for this work while still an undergraduate.

He received his Bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College, which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 2004. He received Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Hartford, which named him its 2002 Alumnus of the Year. Following his doctoral work, Boyer studied privately with John Corigliano in New York, then relocated to Los Angeles, studying film music with Elmer Bernstein and others at the University of Southern California.

Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America is his most successful composition to date. This work was commissioned by The Bushnell Performing Arts Center, and its premiere performance, by the Hartford Symphony under Boyer’s direction, was broadcast on NPR’s SymphonyCast. Ellis Island has been enjoying an extraordinary live performance history, with forty performances by twenty-five orchestras from its debut in 2002 through the 2005-06 season, making it one of the most-performed large-scale American orchestral works of the last decade. The recording we are about to hear received a GRAMMY® Award nomination for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

Here, then, is Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America.

MUSIC: Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America

Peter Boyer’s Ellis Island: The Dream of America. The composer conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra. The actors, directed by Martin Charnin, were Eli Wallach, Olympia Dukakis, Barry Bostwick, Blair Brown, Anne Jackson, Bebe Neuwirth and Louis Zorich.

This is Fred Flaxman. The program is called Compact Discoveries.

[optional one minute break not included in total timing]

Let’s complete this hour with two short pieces which fit our “Dream of America” theme. The first is by a Belgian violinist and composer named Henri Vieuxtemps. He didn’t migrate to the U.S., but he dazzled Americans with his virtuoso violin playing in his great tour of the country in 1843-44.

Vieuxtemps was so taken with the American tune, Yankee Doodle, that he wrote a light, fun-filled composition based on this melody. The piece is called Souvenir d’Amérique: Variations burlesques sur le Yankee doodle. This performance is by violinist Ning Kam and pianist Carole Presland on a Cypress compact disc recording.

MUSIC: Vieuxtemps: Yankee Doodle

Henri Vieuxtemps’ Yankee Doodle Variations performed by violinist Ning Kam and pianist Carole Presland.

Our final selection on this musical tribute to “The Dream of America” is a piece which is so well known, I don’t think I have to tell you the title. But it is almost always heard as played by a band. This time you’ll hear it in a piano arrangement by James Raphael, who performs the work now on an Ars Musici compact disc recording.

MUSIC: Sousa: The Stars and Stripes Forever as arranged for piano by James Raphael

Concluding our Compact Discoveries hour devoted to “The Dream of America,” we heard John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever as arranged for piano by James Raphael, who was also the pianist in this recording.

MUSIC: same clip as opening from Ellis Island


This is Fred Flaxman hoping that you have enjoyed our selections during the past hour and that you’ll let me hear from you. You can reach me in care of the Compact Discoveries website at www.compactdiscoveries.com. You can also use the website to view complete scripts for these programs, including information on every CD used. And you can stream this and other Compact Discoveries programs on demand at the Public Radio Exchange website, www.prx.org.

Compact Discoveries is distributed via the Public Radio Exchange.

MUSIC
: ends at 57:45


ANNOUNCER: Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by Story Books, publishers of The Timeless Tales of Reginald Bretnor, selected and edited by Fred Flaxman. Samples and ordering available at www.bretnor.com. [0:15]

RECORDING ENDS at 58:00


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