"The Dream of America"
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]
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
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
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
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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