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Close to Home: Ellis Island

The Des Moines Symphony’s upcoming concert is a journey to the “New World”: America.

The program highlights an immigrant’s journey to America, featuring Gershwin’s Concerto in F, with Aaron Diehl at the keyboard, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World” and Peter Boyer’s Suite from Ellis Island: The Dream of America.

The Ellis Island Honors Society recently announced that Peter Boyer will be among the recipients of the 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. This award is “highly prestigious” and is officially recognized by the United States Congress.

Boyer’s Grammy-nominated 2001 composition “brings elements of the theatre and multimedia into the concert hall, employing actors and projected historical images from the Ellis Island archives.” Spoken texts are taken from the Ellis Island Oral History Project, a “historic collection of interviews from actual immigrants.” Boyer chose “stories of seven immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island from disparate nations between 1910-1940.” The Des Moines Symphony will be performing the Suite, which incorporates five of the seven. Using the actual words of these immigrants, he “wove them into an orchestral tapestry which frames and comments on their stories.” The work is “poignant, humorous, moving, and inspiring.” It has become one of the most performed American orchestral works of the last decade.

Celebrate the journey to the New World with the Des Moines Symphony. Attend in person on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday, March 17, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. at the Des Moines Civic Center. The concert will also be broadcast on IPR Classical’s Symphonies of Iowa in April.

Listen below to hear exclusive interviews with Peter Boyer and Maestro Joseph Giunta.


BOYER                  Suite from Ellis Island: The Dream of America

GERSHWIN          Concerto in F

DVORAK               Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”

Special Appearances

Joseph Giunta, conducting

Aaron Diehl, piano

Katy Merriman, Roger Mueller, Kerry Skram, Stephen Yoakam, Jill Shellabarger, actors

For tickets and more information, visit https://dmsymphony.org/events/masterworks-5-ellis-island-the-new-world/.

For more information on Peter Boyer, visit https://propulsivemusic.com/about/.

Listen to Jacqueline's interview with Maestro Giunta here.

Jacqueline Halbloom is a Sr. Music Producer and Classical Music Host