Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Thank you to Peter Boyer for the video!

On this day in history, 20 years ago, Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” (“Ellis Island”) had its premiere with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Boyer conducted. It’s a 45-minute work for actors, orchestra and project images. Composed between 2001-02, the world as we knew it then was also changing but there’s something about these stories that transcends generations. They still have an impact.

The text from “Ellis Island” comes from The Ellis Island Oral History Project. You can visit the website here. By the time the doors were closed in 1954, more than 12 million immigrants had come through. Boyer ultimately chose to feature the stories of seven different immigrants who came from seven different countries between 1910-1940 for the piece.

Pacific Symphony is honored to be a part of the journey that started 20 years ago. In June 2018, we made our national PBS debut on Great Performances performing that piece. Guest stars included Barry Bostwick, Camryn Manheim, Michael Nouri, Lesley Fera, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, Samantha Sloyan and Kira Sternbach. The orchestra was under the baton of Maestro Carl St.Clair. The concert was originally recorded at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2017. The special premiered on PBS on June 29, 2018.

You can learn more about it here and watch a brief clip of the prologue in the video below.

Since 2002, the work has received over 200 live performances by more than 100 different orchestras. It was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

You can listen to the full piece here. Congratulations and happy anniversary to everyone involved!