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May 18 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm$10 – $15
Westminster Conservatory will present the world premiere of the orchestral version of Eric Houghton’s Pioneer Songs on Friday, May 18 at 8 p.m. at the Princeton Meadow Church and Event Center in West Windsor. The Westminster Community Orchestra, conducted by Ruth Ochs will be joined by the Westminster Community Chorus and the Pennsbury Choir, conducted by James Moyer; soprano Kathee Zenn; mezzo-soprano Miranda Lammers Smith; tenor Jacob Keleman; and bass-baritone Michael Wisnosky to perform this compelling work that depicts the timeless American story of the first wagon trains traveling to California in the early 1840s. Nancy Foysland Hoerl will narrate. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students/seniors, and are available online at www.rider.edu/arts or by phone at 609-921-2663.
Pioneer Songs was conceived by Robert Marquis, who was an adult piano student of Eric Houghton at Westminster Conservatory, the community music school of Westminster Choir College, in the 1990s. Inspired by what he described as the “early-American” sound of some of Houghton’s original piano works, Marquis wrote “Americana” lyrics for them and proposed that they collaborate on a show about American pioneers. Over a two-year period, Marquis researched the story of the first successful wagon trains to California and worked with Houghton to develop 15 songs depicting the journey of four exuberant pioneers across the American West.
The original version of Pioneer Songs, written for four soloists, piano and narrator, was premiered in 1993. Sadly, Marquis died suddenly in 1994. Since then, Houghton has worked to adapt Pioneer Songs to be performed by full orchestra and chorus, as well as four soloists and a narrator. The performance on May 18 will be the world premiere of this version.