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Ellis Island

Ellis Island

April 6 — April 8, 8:00 p.m.Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Tracy Silverman, electric violin

TICHELI: Blue Shades
ADAMS: The Dharma at Big Sur
BOYER: Ellis Island: The Dream of America

Preview Talk with host Alan Chapman at 7 p.m.


This concert is part of Pacific Symphony's American Composers Festival 2017.





Peter Boyer's  Grammy-nominated “Ellis Island: The Dream of America” is a stirring work that celebrates the historic American immigrant experience with actors and projected images. The New Yorker’s critic Alex Ross described John Adams’ music as “present-tense American romanticism.” In celebration of the composer's 70th birthday, Pacific Symphony performs “The Dharma at Big Sur,” with Tracy Silverman, “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin” (BBC Radio). 

Be part of history! Join the audience on April 7-8 for the recording of the first-ever PBS “Great Performances” broadcast from Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

LEARN MORE about "Ellis Island: The Dream of America."



Golden Dreams - Interplay 2017

Chapman University and Pacific Symphony join forces again to present the annual INTERPLAY festival of music, culture and ideas. With many events free and open to the public, this boundary-breaking partnership engages the Chapman community and Symphony musicians and staff in a wide array of collaborative events, including performances, lectures, art exhibitions, and student projects.

This year we celebrate California's rich, diverse human landscape and its role as a unique cultural crossroads, a meeting point for our state's indigenous people and immigrants from across the nation and around the world.  "Golden Dreams" will honor and explore the history, heritage, and ideas of those who were here, those who came here — and how their interactions changed the world.

For more information please visit

Program Notes

Learn more about the music and the composers in the program notes. 

Tracy Silverman

Guest Artist

Tracy Silverman

Lauded by BBC Radio as “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin”, Tracy Silverman’s groundbreaking work with the 6-string electric violin defies musical boundaries. Formerly first violinist with the innovative Turtle Island String Quartet, Silverman was named one of 100 distinguished alumni by The Juilliard School. The world's foremost concert electric violinist, Silverman has contributed significantly to the repertoire and development of the 6-string electric violin and the non-classical stylistic approach he calls “21st century violin playing”, inspiring several major concertos composed specifically for him, including Pulitzer winner John Adams’ “The Dharma at Big Sur”, premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the gala opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003 and recorded with the BBC Symphony on Nonesuch Records with Adams conducting; legendary “Father of Minimalism” Terry Riley’s “The Palmian Chord Ryddle”, premiered by Silverman with the Nashville Symphony in Carnegie Hall in 2012 and recorded by Naxos Records; Kenji Bunch’s “Embrace” concerto, co-commissioned by 9 orchestras and premiered by Silverman in 2013 at Avery Fisher Hall among others; and Nico Muhly’s “Seeing Is Believing,” a full-orchestra version co-commissioned by 5 orchestras and premiered by Silverman in 2015 with the American Symphony at Carnegie Hall among others.

Shortly after graduating in 1980, Silverman built one of the first-ever 6-string electric violins and set his own course as a musical pioneer, designing and performing on an instrument that did not previously exist. Silverman’s eclectic career has taken him to the world’s best concert halls to work with many of the world’s premier symphonies and conductors including, in addition to those mentioned above, the Detroit Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Adelaide Festival Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival; conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marin Alsop, Neeme Järvi; Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Disney Hall, Linz’s Brucknerhaus and Sao Paulo’s Auditorio Ibirapuera among many others. A true eclectic, Silverman has also recorded with the rock band Guster, contemporary music’s Paul Dresher Ensemble, jazz legend Billy Taylor and most recently on his new Delos/Naxos CD, “Between the Kiss and the Chaos”, with the acclaimed Calder Quartet. 2017 will include the premier of Silverman’s 3rd electric violin concerto, “Love Song to the Sun”, a multi-media work, with a consortium of several orchestras including the  Anchorage Symphony.

In the liner notes to “The Dharma at Big Sur”, John Adams writes, ”Tracy has developed his own unique style of violin playing—a  marvel of expressiveness.” At the premier, Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times enthused, “Inspiring. Silverman is in a class of his own.” The Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein wrote of Silverman’s “Blazing virtuosity. You will be astonished that anybody can play a fiddle like that” and Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, raved, "Fleet agility and tangy expressivity  with wailing hints of Jimi Hendrix."

Tracy has appeared on numerous national TV and radio programs, including NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, Performance Today, St. Paul Sunday and A Prairie Home Companion and was profiled on CBS News Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. A long-standing advocate for music education, Silverman is an in-demand clinician and on the string faculty at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.