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Manchester professor invited to conduct her oratorio at Carnegie Hall

Sneak peek of Debra Lynn’s A Family Portrait is May 1 at  North Manchester campus

A collection of a family’s letters from the Civil War era inspired Manchester University Professor Debra Lynn to write A Family Portrait.

The North Manchester resident has been invited to conduct the oratorio at Carnegie Hall on May 30 with the New England Symphonic Ensemble and combined voices from MU’s A Cappella Choir, Manchester alumni, other northern Indiana singers and choirs from Ridgevue High School in Nampa, Idaho and Boonville High School in Boonville, Missouri.

Closer to home, there will be a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1 in Cordier Auditorium on the North Manchester, Indiana, campus. Admission is free. This will be a version for chorus, two pianos and percussion, featuring the A Cappella Choir and guest choristers.

A Family Portrait is an hour-long masterwork (10 movements) for chorus, orchestra, hammered dulcimer, and two soloists.

Family-Portrait-2017The lyrics for eight of the movements come from letters written by three people in the Houghtaling family line. The oldest was a soldier in the Union Army, stationed at Manassas during the Civil War. The outer two movements are settings of an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s epic poem To Think of Time.

“It has wonderful educational value because much of the multi-layered musical material is derived from folk songs, hymns, and children’s songs from the Civil War era,” Lynn said. “If you’re an American history buff, you’ll be in heaven learning and performing this piece.”

The May 30 performance at Carnegie Hall is 7 p.m. on the Perelman Stage in Stern Auditorium and includes John Rutter conducting his Requiem and Cheryl Dupont conducting a treble chorus festival. Tickets range from $20 to $150 and can be purchased here.

A Family Portrait had its Indiana premiere with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and choristers at Manchester University in 2017.

Lynn has conducted at Carnegie Hall twice before, in 2001 and 2007. 

She serves as director of choral organizations and vocal studies at Manchester. 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 involves MU students, alumni, employees and residents of nearby communities. 

For the media

More about Dr. Debra Lynn
More about music at Manchester
More about the Manchester Symphony Orchestra

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April 2022