The News Service
March 6, 2004
Bostwick and Burton to perform Ellis Island with Brown Orchestra
The Brown University Orchestra, conducted by Paul Phillips, will perform Ellis Island: The Dream of America, composer Peter Boyer’s multimedia concert celebration of immigration, on Saturday, March 6, 2004, at the VMA Arts and Cultural Center. Award-winning actor Barry Bostwick and noted actress Kate Burton, a member of the Brown Class of 1979, will speak as immigrants during the performance.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Tony Award-winning actor Barry Bostwick and noted actress and Brown alumna Kate Burton will headline a concert with the Brown University Orchestra and conductor Paul Phillips when they perform Peter Boyer’s multimedia orchestral composition, Ellis Island: The Dream of America, Saturday, March 6, 2004, at 8 p.m. in VMA Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Providence.
Boyer, a Rhode Island native, is a leading creator and proponent of theatrical and multimedia works. Ellis Island is a 42-minute celebration of the immigrant experience. It features the orchestra, the narratives of seven immigrants as portrayed by Bostwick and Burton, and a video projection that includes inspiring and moving images from Ellis Island. The evening’s program will also include Boyer’s Titanic and the Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor, to be performed by three-time Concerto Competition winner Juliana Pereira, a member of the Class of 2004.
Immigration plays a profound part in American mythology, and Ellis Island holds immense significance in the history of American immigration: From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants – more than 70 percent of all the immigrants to the United States – passed through the Ellis Island processing station. Today more than 100 million U.S. residents can trace their roots to an ancestor who came through this gateway to America.
The Ellis Island composition “was born out of my fascination with the relationship between history and music,” said Boyer. “I’m drawn to good stories – especially stories which come from the past but are relevant to the present – and as an orchestral composer, I’m intrigued by the potential of the orchestra as a storytelling medium.”
Boyer drew from the interviews of the Ellis Island Oral History Project in selecting seven dramatic narratives “to say something important about the American immigrant experience, stories which were poignant, gripping, or even humorous,” he said. Burton and Bostwick will portray four women and three men who came through Ellis Island from seven different countries between 1910 and 1940.
Phillips said he has long been impressed with Boyer’s work, but Ellis Island had particular impact. “When I heard this music for the first time, there were literally tears running down my cheeks,” he said. “It’s a powerful, moving piece.”
Currently a California resident, Boyer is a 1991 graduate of Rhode Island College and former resident of Greenville, R.I. He was born in Providence in 1970, and began composing at the age of 15. He earned national acclaim for his first serious composition, a 40-minute requiem mass composed in memory of his grandmother, while still an undergraduate. He received M.Mus. and D.M.A. degrees from The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, which named him its 2002 Alumnus of the Year. After completing his doctoral work, Boyer studied privately with John Corigliano in New York, then relocated to Los Angeles, studying film music with Elmer Bernstein and David Raksin at the University of Southern California.
Boyer is an award-winning composer and conductor whose music has been widely acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for its dramatic strength and evocative power. In 2001, KOCH International Classics released his debut commercial recording, featuring him conducting the London Symphony Orchestra performing six of his works. His music has been nationally broadcast on NPR in the United States, Classic FM in the United Kingdom and Radio France Musiques in France. He has won six national competitions, including two BMI Awards, the First Music Carnegie Hall commission and the Ithaca College Heckscher Prize. His orchestral music has received more than 50 performances by more than 25 orchestras.
In addition to his concert work, Boyer is active in the film and television industry. He orchestrated two 2003 films for composer Michael Kamen – Paramount Pictures’ Against the Ropes and Touchstone Pictures’ Open Range. His orchestration credits also include the ABC broadcast of the 73rd Academy Awards for music director Bill Conti and films for MGM Animation and TNT. Boyer has also composed original music for several short films and conducted for the Fox Network show Boston Public. Ellis Island: The American Dream was commissioned by The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and was premiered by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on April 9, 2002.
From his portrayal of the quintessential all-American Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show to that of fictitious New York City Mayor Randall Winston on ABC’s hit comedy Spin City, Barry Bostwick has appeared in numerous films, dramatic and musical stage productions, television series and specials, and he has played starring roles in many acclaimed television films and miniseries, including the title role in the Peabody Award-winning CBS epic George Washington. He won a Golden Globe for his performance as Lieutenant “Lady” Aster in ABC’s 30-hour presentation of War and Remembrance and the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his characterization of The Robber Bridegroom. (He also earned Tony nominations for his performance as Danny Zuko in Grease and Joey in They Knew What They Wanted.) He recently completed the movie Chestnut-Hero of Central Park, due to be released this summer. Since surviving prostate cancer several years ago, Bostwick has worked with many organizations and has spoken around the country about his experience and the importance of early cancer detection. He is also an accomplished potter, and his work has been sold and displayed in prominent galleries.
Kate Burton, a member of the Brown Class of 1979, earned an M.F.A. at the Yale School of Drama. She is primarily an actress of stage and television, although she has appeared in films such as Unfaithful, Big Trouble in Little China and Anne of a Thousand Days. She was twice nominated for Tony Awards, for her roles in Hedda Gabler and The Elephant Man, and has appeared onstage in Company and Alice in Wonderland, among other productions. Her television work has included recurring roles on The Practice and Law and Order, in addition to regular roles in Home Fires and Monty. She earned a 1996 Daytime Emmy for her role in the ABC special Notes for My Daughter. In 1984 she co-starred with her father, the legendary Richard Burton, in the CBS miniseries Ellis Island.
Juliana Pereira ’04, was born in New York City and has been playing the violin since the age of three. A three-time winner of the Brown University Orchestra Concerto Competition, she performed the Dvorak Concerto in A minor in 2001 and the Tzigane by Ravel in 2002 with the Brown Orchestra. As a finalist in the 1999 Sound Symphony Solo Concerto Competition, Pereira performed the Wieniawski Concerto in D Minor with the Long Island Sound Symphony in June 2000. She has performed widely in Brazil and the United Kingdom, giving solo performances in the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, and she has performed with ensembles throughout New York City, including appearances at Carnegie Hall and Symphony Space. She studied last spring at the Sorbonne in Paris and performed with the Sorbonne Orchestra as co-concert master. She currently studies violin with Charles Sherba through Brown’s Applied Music Program and participates in the Brown Chamber Music Program and the Brown Orchestra. A double-concentrator in art history and international relations, Pereira has also been accepted into the master's program in Brazilian literature at Brown University.
The concert is sponsored by Brown’s Creative Arts Council, the Brown Department of Music, the Sara and Robert Reichley Fund, Martha and Artemis A. W. Joukowsky, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and the VMA Arts and Cultural Center.
Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students and seniors. Tickets are also available for priority seating and a post-concert reception with Boyer, Burton and other performers for $50. Tickets can be purchased at Orwig Hall (Room 101, One Young Orchard Avenue) or the VMA box office (401-272-4862); they can also be ordered online at www.tickets.com (1-800-919-6272) or by faxing orders to VMA at 401-222-1466. For more information, call the Music Department at 401-863-3234.