Orchestra Explores ‘Dream of America’

The Westmont Orchestra

The Westmont Orchestra

The Westmont Fall Orchestra Concert, “The Dream of America,” explores the theme of the American experience in powerful and hopeful ways Friday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 21, at 3 p.m., both at La Cumbre Junior High School. Tickets, which cost $10 for general admission (students are free), may be purchased at westmont.edu/music or at the door. For more information, please contact the music department at (805) 565-6040 or email music@westmont.edu. Proceeds from the concert benefit Immigrant Hope, the Anti-Defamation League, La Cumbre Junior High School and Westmont Music Scholarships.

The concert features Antonín Dvorák’s “New World Symphony” and Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” which includes a multimedia production.

“Both of these works combine powerful musical elements with emotionally evocative storytelling,” says conductor Michael Shasberger, Adams professor for music and worship at Westmont. “Dvorak’s blend of American-influenced musical themes with symphonic form creates a brilliant masterpiece. Boyer’s use of symphonic music, reminiscent of the finest examples of film music, tells a powerful story itself.”

Live actors will portray the true stories of seven immigrants who came through Ellis Island. They include Michael Bernard, Tom Hinshaw, Stanley Hoffman, Matthew Tavianini, Erin Brehm, Cheri Steinkellner and Annie Torsiglieri.

The accounts range from an energetic Irishman arriving in the midst of the Roaring ’20s, complete with ragtime music, to a Polish woman escaping the horrors of the Holocaust of World War II, accompanied by a gripping musical score. “Each begins with the challenging reason for the journey and ends basking in the light of the torch of the Statue of Liberty and the hope that emerges after a perilous ocean journey,” Shasberger says. “It’s a great piece of music combined with powerful, poignant and moving stories of real people who have contributed to the story of our country.”

Shasberger says he hopes audience members will leave with an affirmation of our highest ideals as a country and a culture. “This experience won’t solve the challenging public policy issues around contemporary immigration issues, but I think it can give us all a window into the hope-filled vision of America that we share in common,” he says. “Perhaps we’ll find a common purpose to work out the thorny issues that face us today.”