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Rogue Valley Symphony presents a multimedia experience with ‘America’s Journey’

Angela Rysk, top left, Marques Jerell Ruff, Jessica Geffen, Matthew Brown, Scott Fullerton, bottom left, Brooke Lynne Calcagno, April Grace Lowe, and Douglas Killingtree will perform Peter Boyer’s "Ellis Island: The Dream of America," along with the Rogue Valley Symphony. Courtesy photos

Symphonic music, actors, visuals and the spoken word coalesce into a single dramatic performance, “America’s Journey.”

The Rogue Valley Symphony will give a one-day-only performance of Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 27, at the Craterian Theatre, 23 S. Central Ave., in downtown Medford.

The Grammy nominated work — performed across the United States — has become one of the most performed orchestral works of the past 15 years.

This celebrated work for seven actors and orchestra celebrates historic American immigration through a powerful combination of symphonic music and spoken word, using the words of real people from the Ellis Island Oral History Project. Craig Jessen, RVS stage director, has assembled an extremely capable group of actors, all Southern Oregon University graduates in theatre arts, who each have an impressive list of acting credits in film, television and on stage.

The performance will also be accompanied by visuals created by the Pacific Symphony, which will add to the power of the performance.

The composer, Peter Boyer, will be in attendance and participating in a pre-concert lecture with RVS maestro Martin Majkut.

Boyer began composing at the age of 15. His first major composition was a large-scale Requiem Mass in memory of his grandmother. His work has been profiled and/or reviewed by The Associated Press, New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Los Angeles Times and more. Boyer has received multiple national awards, including two BMI Awards and an Emmy nomination for the performance of “Ellis Island” on PBS.

Also on the “America’s Journey” program is the “Fanfare for Tomorrow,” composed by Boyer for the 2021 inaugural celebration. Rescored for full orchestra, the piece will add to the mood of celebrating our country’s patriotism.

This performance will also include Aaron Dworkin’s “The American Rhapsody,” a spoken word multimedia orchestral work that tells the story of the United State through the prism of the life and words of America’s first President, George Washington.

Spoken word for “The American Rhapsody” will be delivered by Marques Jerell Ruff, a former member of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble Chanticleer. Ruff has been the featured soloist on several recordings, including a world premiere by famed American composer Nico Muhly, entitled “Three Moon Songs.”

“The American Rhapsody” work is underpinned by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Symphonic Variations on an African Air, which explores the ideals of courage, freedom and commitment while also serving as a story of vulnerability and the progression of humanity through the great injustices which plague our history.

Tickets for “America’s Journey” are $23 to $63 and can be purchased online at rvsymphony.org or by calling the RVS Box Office at 541-708-6400, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For further information, including COVID requirements, call the box office or email at tickets@rvsymphony.org or see rvsymphony.org.

A closer look at the performers

April Grace Lowe has acted on stages in New York and Los Angeles. She received her BFA from Southern Oregon University and received numerous awards for work in the feature films “Beyond Methuselah” and “A Promise of Time Travel.”

Brooke Lynne Calcagno last appeared on a Southern Oregon stage 20 years ago while studying acting at SOU. Now performing in Portland at the Theatre Vertigo, she has been a company member, actor and producer for more than six years. She has also worked at Profile Theatre, Northwest Classical Theatre Company, Lakewood Theatre, The CoHo, and Anonymous Theatre Company.

Jessica Geffen is a proud graduate of SOU, where she received her BFA in theatre arts. She recently worked for six years as a resident actor and associate artist with Hillsboro’s professional theatre company, Bag & Baggage Productions. She has also worked with PDX Playwrights, Well Arts, Public Playhouse, Portland Actors Ensemble, and Lunacy Stageworks.

Douglas Killingtree is an actor, author, illustrator and SOU alum. Credits include Hamlet in “Hamlet” (Portland Actors Ensemble), Mercutio in “Romeo & Juliet” and Gratiano in “The Merchant of Venice” (Vortex Theatre), Lord Edgar/Jane Twisden in “The Mystery of Irma Vep” (Oregon Cabaret Theatre), and many others.

Scott Fullerton studied theatre arts at SOU before leaving to pursue a culinary career in Portland. For the past 12 years, he has been working as a chef in various Portland restaurants. He last appeared as Hortaio in Portland Actors Ensemble’s production of “Hamlet.”

Matthew Brown is excited to be back on stage in Southern Oregon. Matt received his BFA from SOU and an MFA in classical performance from Florida State University. His past performances include working for the Asolo Rep, the Oregon Cabaret Theater, and five productions over two seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Angela Rysk is thrilled to be back on stage in Southern Oregon. She holds a BFA in performance from SOU, and is currently living in Sonoma, Calif., working as a voice actor. She is an audible approved narrator, where her voice can be heard on more than 50 titles. Recent on-camera work includes “Beyond Methuselah,” where she received best actress for her portrayal of Emma at the Indie Gathering International Film Festival.