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SOI Is Close To Home: Ellis Island/The New World

The Des Moines Symphony’s “Ellis Island” 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 renowned pianist Aaron Diehl, 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 is 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.” 

Classical and jazz pianist Aaron Diehl joins the DMSO to perform Gershwin’s Concerto in F. Diehl was a finalist in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition at age 17. There, Wynton Marsalis noticed him and invited him to tour Europe with the Wynton Marsalis Septet. Soon after, he attended Juilliard School, studying with jazz pianists Kenny Barron and Eric Reed and classical pianist Oxana Yablonskaya. For the last ten years, he has collaborated “as pianist and musical director for vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, the most arresting and authentic jazz vocalist to emerge in three decades.” Aaron is often referred to as “The Real Diehl.”

Celebrate the journey to the New World with the Des Moines Symphony on IPR Classical’s Symphonies of Iowa on Sunday, April 21st at 4 p.m. and Monday, April 22nd at 7 p.m.

Listen below to hear exclusive interviews with composer Peter Boyer, pianist Aaron Diehl 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, professional actors

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

Listen to Jacqueline's interview with Peter Boyer here.
Listen to Jacqueline's interview with Aaron Diehl here.

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