In the News

Carnegie Hall bows 2022

Lynn’s ‘A Family Portrait’ ends with standing ovation at Carnegie Hall

Manchester University Professor Debra Lynn conducted her “A Family Portrait” oratorio at Carnegie Hall on Memorial Day. It received a standing ovation.

The May 30 performance included members of the Manchester University A Cappella choir, alumni and friends, as well as choirs from Ridgevue High School in Nampa, Idaho, and Boonville High School in Boonville, Missouri.

Lynn wrote the oratorio based on a collection of a family’s letters from the Civil War era – a fitting tribute to the solemn holiday. A descendant of the Houghtaling family, mezzo-soprano Judy Marlett, discovered the letters, brought them to Lynn and was a featured soloist at the Carnegie Hall performance.

“A Family Portrait,” uses the words of late 19th-century letters written by three of Marlett’s relatives from New York State: Tyler Houghtaling was a Union soldier; Lanie Houghtaling died in her early 20s leaving two young children; and Percy Houghtaling was Lanie’s child and Marlett’s grandfather.

The multi-layered composition includes musical quotations and themes from folksongs, hymns, and children’s songs. The choristers were accompanied by the New England Symphonic Ensemble and hammered dulcimer player Becky Walter of Columbia City, Indiana. 

MU Flag 1Participants celebrated the five-day residency after the performance with a late-night cruise to the Statue of Liberty.

Lynn conducted at Carnegie Hall twice before, in 2001 and 2007. This is the first time she was invited to conduct her own work in the world-renowned New York performance space.

She serves as director of choral organizations and vocal studies at MU’s North Manchester campus. Choral ensembles under her direction include the A Cappella Choir, Chamber Singers and Cantabile.

She is conductor of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, a collaboration that includes Manchester students, employees, residents of Wabash County and other northern Indiana musicians.

For the media
To contact Dr. Lynn for information or an interview:
Learn about her compositional journey at
Music at Manchester
Manchester Symphony Orchestra

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., provides vibrant and transformative student experiences. Learn more at 

Our mission and values
Manchester University respects the infinite worth of every individual and graduates persons of ability and conviction who draw upon their education and faith to lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.