Venue Details

475 Star Starred
Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre
Formerly Verizon Wireless Amphitheater 8808 Irvine Center Drive Irvine, CA 92618
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On Saturday, July 23, Maestro Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony present Ellis Island: An American Dream, Peter Boyer’s highly moving tribute to the American experience. Ellis Island is an innovative blend of narration (featuring noted actors Barry Bostwick and Olympia Dukakis), theater, slide projection and rich music highlighting the unforgettable tale of seven immigrants who came to America from 1910-40. Their stories, told in their actual words, celebrate the story of our great country: poignant, humorous, moving, and inspiring. Also on the program: a Van Cliburn medalist joins the Pacific Symphony for a performance of a Rachmaninov piano work.


  • Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
  • Peter Boyer: Ellis Island — The Dream of America
  • Guest Artists

  • Alexander Kobrin, piano (2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition gold medalist)
  • Olympia Dukakis, narrator
  • Barry Bostwick, narrator
  • Conductor

  • Carl St. Clair, conductor
  • Ellis Island: The Dream of America, Boyer’s most ambitious work to date, celebrates the American immigrant experience and the American dream. Innovative in its format, the work brings elements of the theatre and multimedia into the concert hall, employing actors and projected historical images from the Ellis Island archives.

    The spoken texts for the work come from the Ellis Island Oral History Project, an historic collection of interviews with actual immigrants about their experiences emigrating to America. After extensive research in this archive, Boyer chose the stories of seven immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island from disparate nations between 1910-1940. He fashioned short monologues from the actual words of these immigrants, and wove them into an orchestral tapestry which frames and comments on their stories—by turns poignant, humorous, moving, and inspiring. The work concludes with a reading of the Emma Lazarus poem “The New Colossus” (“Give me your tired, your poor…”), providing an emotionally powerful ending to this celebration of our nation of immigrants.

    Ellis Island: The Dream of America was commissioned by The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, in celebration of the inaugural season of its Belding Theatre. It was premiered by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer, with actors from the New York stage, directed by Martin Charnin, at the Bushnell in April 2002. The premiere was broadcast on National Public Radio’s SymphonyCast program in July 2002. Boyer conducted a recording of the work with Philharmonia Orchestra and a cast of renowned actors including Olympia Dukakis, Eli Wallach, Bebe Neuwirth, and Barry Bostwick. It was released on the Naxos label on May 17, 2005.

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