Manchester University / Alumni / @manchester Newsletter April 2022 / Debra Lynn takes A Family Portrait to Carnegie Hall

Debra Lynn takes A Family Portrait to Carnegie Hall

Debra-Lynn-composing
Dr. Debra Lynn has conducted at Carnegie Hall twice before, in 2001 and 2007.

Memorial Day concert to feature student choir, alumni and other singers


A collection of a family’s letters from the Civil War era inspired Manchester University Professor Debra Lynn to write A Family Portrait, which had its world premier in Indiana at Manchester University in 2017.

She has been invited to conduct the oratorio at Carnegie Hall on May 30, with combined voices from MU’s A Cappella Choir, its alumni and friends.

“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.”

Family-Portrait-2017
A Family Portrait had its Indiana premiere
at Manchester in 2017.

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

The 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 other two movements are settings of an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s epic poem To Think of Time.

The May 30 performance is 7 p.m. on the Perelman Stage in Stern Auditorium with the New England Symphonic Ensemble 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.

Closer to home, there will be a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1 in Cordier Auditorium on the North Manchester campus. Admission is free.

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 Manchester students, alumni, employees and residents of nearby communities.