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Wind Symphony CBDNA Concert 4/5/24

Friday, April 5, 2024  •  7:30 p.m.

Weigel Auditorium
Columbus, OH


Russel C. Mikkelson, conductor 
Scott A. Jones, guest conductor 
Caroline Hong, piano concerto soloist
Timothy Leasure, Matthew Harriman, Ben Joy, off-stage trumpets 


(in order of appearance)

Mary Trapp Gray, Jamie Harper, Cate Blaire-Wilhelm, Mark Mann, Janetta Davis, Todd Covert, Danielle Mann

The Dream of America: A Tribute to the American Immigrant

A message from the conductor...

Welcome to Weigel Auditorium on the campus of The Ohio State University!  The OSU Wind Symphony is honored and excited to present tonight’s program titled The Dream of America, a Tribute to the American Immigrant. We feature three works on this performance, chosen for several reasons. Both Ingolf Dahl and Igor Stravinsky were immigrants to the United States: Dahl, born in Germany, became a citizen in 1943 and Stravinsky, born in Russia, in 1945. Further, 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky’s landmark Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments

The “anchor” composition of tonight’s concert is the world premiere of Jay Bocook’s transcription of Ellis Island, The Dream of America by composer Peter Boyer. The transcription was commissioned by a consortium of seven ensembles, led by The Ohio State University Wind Symphony. The composition itself is a multimedia work for seven actors, video and concert band. In creating this work, composer Peter Boyer researched stories collected by the Ellis Island Oral History Project, which contains over 2,000 interviews with immigrants who were processed at Ellis Island during the years of its operation.  Consequently, the actors deliver their monologues in the first person, speaking the real words of real people telling their own stories. I have found these personal stories, the accompanying video using archival photographs from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum Library, and Peter Boyer’s music to be profound, illuminating and heartfelt. I believe the transcription of this work to be a unique, exciting and inspirational addition to the repertoire of the concert band. Further, may this performance serve as a timely reminder that, for so many who have come here, America has been a symbol of freedom and opportunity for new life.

Best wishes for an invigorating conference!

Russel C. Mikkelson's signature

Russel C. Mikkelson, Professor and Director of Bands 



Ingolf Dahl (1912–1970)

I. Introduction and Rondo

Scott A. Jones, guest conductor

The composer writes:

When I received a commission to write a work for band, there were many things to be considered. First of all, I wanted it to be a piece full of size, a long piece, a substantial piece -- a piece that, without apologies for its medium, would take its place alongside symphonic works of any other kind. But, in addition, I hoped to make it a ‘light’ piece, something in a serenade style, serenade tone, and perhaps even form. This was the starting point.

Arthur Honegger once was commissioned to write an oratorio (King David) for chorus and an ill-assorted group of wind instruments. He asked Stravinsky, ‘What should I do? I have never before heard of this odd combination of winds.’ Stravinsky replied, ‘That is very simple. You must approach this task as if it had always been your greatest wish to write for these instruments, and as if a work for just such a group were the one that you had wanted to write all your life.’ This is good advice and I tried to follow it. Only in my case it was not only before but after the work was done and the Sinfonietta was finished that it turned out to be indeed the piece I had wanted to write all my life.

Note by Ingolf Dahl

Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) 

I. Largo — Allegro — Maestoso 
2. Largo 
3. Allegro 

Caroline Hong, piano

This concerto was composed during the winter of 1923–24 when Stravinsky was living in France and touring as a concert pianist. The premiere was in Paris in 1924 with Koussevitzky conducting and Stravinsky as soloist. The work remained the exclusive performance right of Stravinsky, who performed it around 40 times in the next five years. 

The scoring for the concerto is unconventional, employing a large band of woodwinds and brass made deliberately bottom-heavy by the addition of both timpani and double basses. Unfortunately, this concept was not clear to everyone at the time of the first performance. Stravinsky wrote the following some months later: 

“I remember that I was reproached on the subject of the constitution of the orchestra, which was said to be ‘incomplete’ because of the absence of strings (except for the double basses). The unfortunate critic did not know at the time that there is such a thing as un orchestre d’harmonie. It is this orchestre d’harmonie (concert band) which I have chosen for my piano concerto, and not the symphonic orchestra, as an instrumental body more appropriate to the tone of the piano. Strings and piano, a sound scraped and a sound struck, do not sound well together; piano and winds, sounds struck and blown, do." 

Note by Keith Brion 

Ellis Island: The Dream of America (2002/2024)

Peter Boyer (b. 1970) 
Transcribed by Jay Bocook

World premiere of the wind transcription


Words of Helen Cohen, Emigrated from Poland in 1920

Mary Trapp Gray

Interlude 1

Words of James Apanomith, Emigrated from Greece in 1911

Jamie Harper

Interlude 2

Words of Lillian Galleta, Emigrated from Italy in 1928

Cate Blaire-Wilhelm

Interlude 3

Words of Lazarus Salamon, Emigrated from Hungary in 1920

Mark Mann

Interlude 4

Words of Helen Rosenthal, Emigrated from Belgium in 1940

Janetta Davis

Interlude 5

Words of Manny Steen, Emigrated from Ireland in 1925

Todd Covert

Interlude 6

Words of Katherine Beychook, Emigrated from Russia in 1910

Danielle Mann

Interlude 7

EPILOGUE: “The New Colossus” (Emma Lazarus, 1883)

"Ellis Island: The Dream of America" Program Notes

Ellis Island: The Dream of America was born out of my fascination with the relationship between history and music. 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. Of course, orchestral music cannot tell stories in a literal way, but its ability to suggest scenes and emotions, and evoke responses in listeners, has challenged and stimulated composers for centuries. My fascination with the story of the Titanic led me to choose that as the subject of an early orchestral work, and considering the plight of that vessel’s third-class passengers — humble European immigrants bound for America — led me to think more broadly about early twentieth-century American immigration.

America is a nation of immigrants, and our immigrant history is a profound part of our American mythology. In the history of American immigration, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are icons of immense significance. In the years of its operation, from 1892 to 1954, more than twelve million immigrants, over 70% of all immigrants to the United States, passed through Ellis Island, the processing station which was “the gateway to America.” Today, more than 40% of the U.S. population, over 100 million Americans, can trace their roots to an ancestor who came through Ellis Island. The stories of Ellis Island immigrants are in many ways our family stories: whether they are the tales of our grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, or friends, so many Americans can relate to these experiences as part of our collective history. This is what makes Ellis Island stories so fascinating, and it’s what drew me to this material as the basis of a major composition.

When I decided to create a work about Ellis Island, I knew that I wanted to combine spoken word with the orchestra. When I began researching Ellis Island, I learned of the existence of something which would come to define the nature of the piece: the Ellis Island Oral History Project. This is a collection of interviews, housed at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, with immigrants who were processed at Ellis Island during the years of its operation. Begun in 1973, the Ellis Island Oral History Project now contains over 2,000 interviews. The largest number of these were done during the late 1980s and early 1990s, catalyzed by the opening of the Museum in 1990. All immigrants interviewed for the Project were asked a standard set of questions: what life was like in their native country, reasons for coming to America, the nature of the voyage to port and the journey by ship, experiences arriving in New York Harbor and being processed at Ellis Island, their ultimate destination, and their experiences adjusting to life in the United States. Collectively, the interviews which constitute the Ellis Island Oral History Project — in both recorded form and in transcripts — are a treasure of immeasurable worth in American history. When I learned of the existence of this resource, I knew I had found the source from which my texts would be drawn: real words of real people telling their own stories.

The decision to use texts from the Ellis Island Oral History Project meant that the work would require actors, and it’s an important distinction that they are not “narrators” or “speakers,” but actors. They deliver their monologues in the first person. The use of actors and, in live performance, projected images with the orchestra makes Ellis Island: The Dream of America a hybrid work which is closer to a theater piece than a pure concert work, though it is intended to be performed in the concert hall.

Though I am a composer and not a writer, I decided early in the process that I would create the script for the work myself, prior to composing the music. The creation of the script involved the selection, arrangement and editing of texts from the Ellis Island Oral History Project into a sort of dramatic narrative. This proved to be a huge task, not least because of the staggering amount of material which exists (much more than I could ever realistically canvas for material). Ellis Island welcomed (or rejected) immigrants from a great many countries over a span of more than sixty years, and so I wanted the immigrants’ stories chosen for inclusion to be widely representative of both geography and historical period. And of course, I wanted to use stories which would say something important about the American immigrant experience, stories which were poignant, gripping, or even humorous. I examined over 100 interviews, and found many more stories than could be included in a 43-minute piece with 25 minutes of spoken word. Ultimately I settled on a structure which includes seven stories, four female and three male, of immigrants who came through Ellis Island from seven countries, between 1910 and 1940.

For the final text in the work, I knew from the beginning that I could not create a work about Ellis Island without making reference to the poem by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, which is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. This poem is synonymous with the Statue, Ellis Island, and American immigration in the minds of many Americans. A number of immigrants interviewed for the project made reference to the poem, and the words of Katherine Beychok provided a natural bridge to a recitation of the poem, which serves as the work’s epilogue.

The orchestral music in Ellis Island: The Dream of America is continuous, framing, commenting on, and amplifying the spoken words. Following a six-minute orchestral prologue, the work’s structure alternates the individual immigrants’ stories with orchestral interludes. In general, during the actors’ monologues in which the immigrants’ stories are told, the orchestra plays a supporting role, employing a more sparse orchestration and texture so as not to overpower the speaking voice. During the interludes, the orchestra assumes the primary role, and accordingly “speaks up” with fuller orchestration. The prologue introduces much of the work’s principal thematic material. It is in two sections, slow and fast. In the first section, the work’s main theme, simple and somewhat folk-like in character, is introduced by a solo trumpet, then taken up by the strings and developed. The second section is quick and vigorous, and introduces a fast-moving theme in the trumpets, with pulsating accompaniment in the whole orchestra, which I think of as “traveling music.” These themes recur in many guises throughout the entire piece.

In addition to these, there are other important musical themes, some of which are associated with particular immigrants’ stories. Of course I attempted to compose music which was appropriate for the nature and character of each of the stories. For Lazarus Salamon’s story of the military oppression in the Hungary of his youth, a menacing snare drum tattoo is significant. But when he speaks of arriving in New York and seeing the Statue of Liberty, a quiet, hymn-like theme for the strings is heard — which will recur at a later mention of the Statue. Lillian Galletta’s story is that of children’s reunion with their father — an emotional and heartwarming story which I attempted to reflect in a lyrical “reunion” theme. The story of Helen Rosenthal is one of escaping the Nazis to find freedom in America, though her entire family perished at Auschwitz. For this I chose a solo violin to play a lamenting theme with a kind of Jewish character. In stark contrast to this is the story of Manny Steen, an irrepressible Irish immigrant and delightful raconteur. His story cried out for a “Tin Pan Alley” treatment, markedly different in style from the rest of the music. Just as each immigrant is a strand in the American tapestry, so I attempted to reflect their tales with various musical styles.

In live performances of Ellis Island: The Dream of America, there is a visual component which accompanies the music during the Prologue and Epilogue. This consists of images from the archive of historic photographs housed at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum Library. Many of these come from the collection of Augustus Sherman, a longtime Ellis Island employee who took a number of poignant and historically important photographs of immigrants. These immigrants’ faces seem to tell their own stories, and it is little wonder that copies of many of these photographs are displayed prominently in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Work on this piece was begun in the months before September 11, 2001, and completed in the months that followed. During my research trips to Ellis Island in the summer of 2001, many times I had imagined what it was like to be an immigrant sailing into New York Harbor, and seeing the skyline of lower Manhattan. As the world mourned those devastating events, I often reflected on how that skyline had tragically changed. After September 11, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which draw millions of visitors each year, were closed to the public for over three months; the Statue itself did not welcome visitors again until August 2004. The reopening of these American icons reminds us of the endurance of the freedoms which have drawn generations of immigrants from around the world.

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 under my direction, with a cast of actors directed by Martin Charnin, at The Bushnell on April 9, 2002. At that first performance, it was my great pleasure to welcome to the stage Lillian Galletta, the only one of the seven immigrants featured in my work who was then still living. This delightful moment was made even more poignant by the fact that her four older siblings, who were then all in their eighties, who had traveled with her from Sicily to America in 1928, joined us that evening.

The stories of Ellis Island are stories of journeys. My personal journey with this project, from its conception in 1999, to its premiere in 2002, recording in 2003, release by Naxos in 2005 followed by its Grammy nomination, national PBS Great Performances telecast in 2018, and more than 300 performances to date, has been both a long and rewarding one. I hope that listeners may find these stories as fascinating, illuminating and inspiring as I do.

Peter Boyer (originally 2002, updated 2005, 2010, 2019)

Cate Blair-Wilhelm

Cate Blair-Wilhelm (Lillian Galletta, emigrated from Italy, in 1928, at age 4): Cate’s stage roles have ranged from Gertrude in Hamlet and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet to Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Among her most rewarding stage experiences are speaking ancient Greek, as Hecuba in The Trojan Women and her previous appearance with the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra as an Ellis Island immigrant in Ellis Island: the Dream of America (The Midland Theatre).

Todd Covert

Todd Covert (Manny Steen, emigrated from Ireland, in 1925, at age 19) received his BFA from The Ohio State university and an MFA from the University of Southern California. Most recently in Columbus he has been seen in shows at Short North Stage, which includes Kiss of the Spider Woman (Warden), Angels in America 1 & 2 (Roy Cohn), Assassins (Sam Byck), and West Side Story (Lt. Shrank). He has also worked on several Hollywood films shot in the Cincinnati area which include Old Man and the Gun (Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek), Dark Waters with (Mark Ruffalo), and the upcoming film directed by Barry Levinson with Robert DeNiro called The Alto Knights with a worldwide release November 15, 2024. He is thrilled to be a part of this wonderful historic evening of music and theater.

Janetta Davis

Janetta Davis (Helen Rosenthal, emigrated from Belgium, in 1940, at age 30) has been a professional actor, director, and producer for almost four decades. She is currently the managing director for The Tipping Point Theatre Co. where she is directing three original short plays for the Think-Write-Play fest. The recent creation of Unfolding, an original devised piece with her company, was profoundly satisfying. Aside from enjoying performing in radio plays, joining theatre companies across the country for play readings, and hamming it up in scattered films, she finds her joy singing in a choir and enjoying life with her husband Doug, and Riley the smooth collie.

Mary Trapp Gray

Mary Trapp Gray (Helen Cohen, emigrated from Poland, in 1920, at age 20): Mary graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Theatre and Drama. Over the past 40 years, she honed her acting skills on the stages of Players Theatre Columbus, Gallery Players, CATCO, The Ohio State University, New Players Theatre, Curtain Players, and Short North Stage. Gray has enjoyed numerous voiceover projects in addition to performing. Since 2019, Gray has worked at The Ohio State University College of Medicine as a contracted actor in the Standardized Patient Program.

Jamie Harper

Jamie Harper (James Apanomith, emigrated from Greece, in 1911, at age 16) is a Columbus-based performance artist celebrating a career spanning three decades of theater, film, and the media arts. They are currently a student and maker developing a new work as a writer and designer called Abiogenesis to be performed at The Abbey Theater of Dublin in late April. They are grateful to be enrolled at The Ohio State University, finishing degrees in Creative Writing and Theater and graduating this fall. They plan to continue academics abroad to expand their educational journey through doctorate studies. They are humbled by the impact creating art has had upon their life and extend their thankful joy to all who that have supported their work over the years.

Danielle Mann

Danielle Mann (Katherine Beychok, emigrated from Russia, in 1910, at age 10): graduated from The Ohio State University with a BFA in Theatre. She has been performing locally and throughout the Midwest for over 40 years.  She has performed Shakespeare to musical theatre and everything in between.  Some of Dani’s favorite roles include Mama Rose (Gypsy), Fool (King Lear), Val (A Chorus Line) and Amanda (Private Lives), Ensemble (Closer Than Ever) and Woman One (Jerry’s Girls). Enjoy this amazing piece!

Mark Mann

Mark Mann (Lazarus Salamon, emigrated from Hungary, in 1920, at age 16): Mark is an award-winning veteran of many Central Ohio theatrical productions, as actor, director and producer. He shares a Grove City home with his dearest friend Danielle, and many critters.

Kevin Connell, director

Kevin Connell is currently the vice president of the Board of Directors for the Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra. He was the director of NGSO’s Ellis Island: the Dream of America (autumn 2022). He is a former professor of Theatre Arts at Marymount Manhattan College (New York City) and was the former managing artistic director of Weathervane Playhouse (Newark, Ohio), where he worked from 2014–2019. Kevin was the period style and etiquette coordinator for the 2012-2013 Broadway production of The Heiress. As an actor, Kevin performed in productions at The National Theatre (London), The Edinburgh International Fringe Festival (Scottland), La Jolla Playhouse (San Diego, California), Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, Illinois), TheatreWorks USA (New York City/Tour), The Wayside Theatre (Winchester, Virginia), TheatreFest, NJ (Montclair, New Jersey) and Pinewood Film Studios (London), among other credits. He attended The Ohio State University (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and the University of California, San Diego (Master of Fine Arts). He is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Tabitha Abney, costume designer

Passionate and innovative theatre costume designer Tabitha Abney weaves enchanting tales through fabric and color. With a flair for storytelling, Tabi transforms characters into living works of art, from classical to avant-garde. Armed with an acute understanding of character psychology, she collaborates seamlessly with directors and actors to bring narratives to life. Adept at balancing tradition and modernity, Tabi infuses productions with visually stunning and emotionally resonant costumes, leaving an indelible mark on the stage.




Timothy Leasure
Professor of trumpet, The Ohio State University
Former member, United States Navy Band; Ohio State alumnus

Matthew Harriman
Chief Musician, United States Naval Academy Band; Ohio State alumnus

Ben Joy
United States Navy Fleet Band (Italy); Ohio State alumnus 

Piano Concerto

Caroline Hong
Professor of piano, The Ohio State University 

Ellis Island: The Dream of America

Kevin Connell, director (Ohio State alumnus)
Tabitha Abney, costume designer
Elizabeth Ferguson, video coordinator


Mary Trapp Gray, as Helen Lansman Cohen
Jamie Harper, as James Apanomith
Cate Blair-Wilhelm, as Lillian Galletta
Mark Mann, as Lazarus Salamon
Janetta Davis, as Helen Rosenthal 
Todd Covert, as Emanuel “Manny” Steen
Danielle Mann, as Katherine Beychok

Russel C. Mikkelson, conductor

Katie Sharp 
Braden Stewart
Sofia Geelhood

Katie Sharp * 
Jonathan Mitchell
Sofia Geelhood
Braden Stewart
Allie Gerckens
Shreeya Yampati
Kristin Thompson

Briele Vollmuth *
Laura Pitner
Lauren Kowal

English Horn
Lauren Kowal

Brandon Golpe *
Isaiah Heyman
Bobby Schwartz

Bobby Schwartz

E-flat Clarinet
Destiny Malave

Kaleigh McGee *
Louis Maligaya 
Destiny Malave
Eli Johnson 
Lily Tropple
Rohit Kolluri
Samuel Langer
Joseph Zishka 
Joseph DeCillis

Bass Clarinet
Mason Williams
Leah Henning

Contrabass Clarinet
Lily Tropple

Alto Saxophone
Frankie Wantuch *
Lucinda Dunne

Tenor Saxophone
Austin Spillman

Baritone Saxophone
Cooper Greenlees

Annie Moon *
William Holderby
Cheng Peng
Theresa Deevers
Olivia Boden

Luke Bingham *
Matt Pileski
Nick Schnitzspahn
Ben Guegold
Connor McMullen
Zach Heffner
Bobby Petty

Tristan Miller *
Charlotte Stefani
Alex Myers
Owen Kovach

Bass Trombone
Zach Irwin

Sean O’Brien *
Davis Aho
Andrew Eynon

Patrick Woo *
Zane Tekaucic

Sam Sherer * 
Tres Perkins 
Matt Hanson 
Haydn Veith 
Noah Landrum 
Ben Kerger

Kaiwei Guo

Double Bass 
Drew Postel (assisting) 
Dallas Carpenter (assisting) 
Saoirse Hurley

Nathan Hay (assisting) 

* principal

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