Young Voices of Troy Tell The Tale of the Erie Canal at the Albany Symphony

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Albany, NY-   The Albany Symphony, under the direction of GRAMMY® Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller, presents a reprise of The Mighty Erie Canal, an Albany Symphony commission by composer Dorothy Chang, hailed as “evocative and kaleidoscopic” (Seattle Times), on Saturday, March 10, 7:30PM at the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY.  At the center of the performance is a 160-voice All City Elementary School Choir from the Troy City School District.

Commissioned as part of the Albany Symphony’s highly regarded composer-educator residency program, The Mighty Erie Canal is a children’s operetta based on the story of the Erie Canal and is the result of a two-year collaboration with students from George Washington and Poestenkill Elementary Schools in Averill Park and their teacher, Martha Bove.  Today, more than a decade after its premiere, 4th and 5th grade students from all five public elementary schools in Troy and members of the Troy Middle School’s 6th Grade Choir will revisit the work to celebrate the Erie Canal’s bicentennial and the orchestra’s upcoming Kennedy Center debut at SHIFT: Festival of American Orchestras.

Approached by the orchestra in October, Rhonda Hermance, a 33-year veteran music teacher who dedicated her entire career to teaching in Troy, quickly embraced the opportunity for her students and began recruiting her colleagues to participate. Hermance amassed a choir of over 160 young and diverse voices from every neighborhood in Troy.  When asked about the importance of this project to her students, Hermance said:  “The Albany Symphony is providing a wonderful opportunity to the Troy students to experience music performance and musicianship. Students are meeting the professional challenge and are practicing to be their best.” Hermance, who also served as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera Company’s Creating Opera Program from 1998-2001 is scheduled to retire at the end of this school year.

The Albany Symphony has a strong long-standing relationship with the Troy City School District.  David Alan Miller describes the relationship with the Troy City School District as “a powerful and important relationship.  Our musicians have been active in the community for more than a decade through the Albany Symphony’s Adopt-a-School program, but the true heroes are the dedicated music teachers like Rhonda Hermance, who go above and beyond to make performance and learning opportunities like this possible. 

With approximately 4,300 students, Troy is one of the largest districts in the Capital Region and provides a broad array of educational experiences. Troy Superintendent, John Carmello said, “Many school districts throughout the country have been forced to cut their music education programs due to inadequate funding. While the Troy City School District is no stranger to such challenges, we are proud to be able to continue to offer a variety of programs in all eight of our buildings, Grades K-12. We feel that music education is essential to a well-rounded academic experience as it provides students with opportunities for creative expression and collaboration, and is known to improve overall academic performance. It is an honor for Ms. Hermance to be given such a prestigious opportunity to work with the Albany Symphony Orchestra and I thank her for her dedication to our students on this project and throughout her career at Troy City Schools.”

This concert program will also feature Michael Daugherty’s Reflections on the Mississippi, which was recently released by NAXOS Records, Michael Torke’s Three Manhattan Bridges, and Still/Rapid by Joan Tower.

Tickets for the Albany Symphony performance can be purchased by calling 518.694.3300, online at, or by visiting the Albany Symphony Box Office at 19 Clinton Ave., Albany, NY 12207.

About The Albany Symphony:

The Albany Symphony is one of this region’s most revered music and cultural institutions, having won numerous national awards for its adventurous concert programming, recording projects, composer residencies, and innovative educational efforts involving area schools. 

The Albany Symphony’s season, which spans nine months from October through June, features timeless masterpieces, brilliant soloists, thrilling new compositions, and holiday and family programming. The trailblazing American Music Festival caps each season with a full week of dynamic new works by some of today’s best composers. As the only professional orchestra based in the Capital Region, the Albany Symphony enriches a broad and diverse community and engages more than 150,000 people each year throughout the area.

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About David Alan Miller:

Grammy Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller has established a reputation as one of the leading American conductors of his generation. Music Director of the Albany Symphony since 1992, Mr. Miller has proven himself a creative and compelling orchestra builder. Through exploration of unusual repertoire, educational programming, community outreach and recording initiatives, he has reaffirmed the Albany Symphony’s reputation as a champion of American symphonic music and one of its most innovative orchestras. He and the orchestra have twice appeared in "Spring For Music” at Carnegie Hall. Other accolades include the 2003 Ditson Conductor’s Award, the 2001 ASCAP Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming and ASCAP’s first-ever Leonard Bernstein Award for Outstanding Educational Programming.  In July, 2017, he and the Albany Symphony commemorated the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal with “Water Music NY,” a week-long orchestral barge journey from Albany to Buffalo, NY, performing seven major collaborative works for orchestra and collaborating arts groups in seven Canal-side communities. 

In demand as a guest conductor, Mr. Miller has worked with most of America’s major orchestras, including the orchestras of Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. In addition, he has appeared frequently throughout Europe, Australia and the Far East as guest conductor. 

Mr. Miller received his Grammy Award in January 2014 for his recording of John Corigliano's "Conjurer," with the Albany Symphony and Dame Evelyn Glennie. His extensive discography includes over 30 commercial recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, London/Decca, Naxos, and Albany Records of works by Todd Levin with the London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Daugherty, Kamran Ince, Michael Torke, Christopher Rouse, Luis Tinoco John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis, Roy Harris, Morton Gould, Peter Mennin, and Vincent Persichetti.

A native of Los Angeles, David Alan Miller is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, and The Juilliard School. Prior to his appointment in Albany, Mr. Miller was Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony.

About The Performing Arts Department of The Troy City School District

A small urban school district with approximately 4,300 students, we have programs housed in eight buildings. Troy has achieved remarkable progress in recent years. Our school improvement efforts have not only raised expectations, but also resulted in measurable changes across the district. The district’s public schools continue to serve as a vital part of the city of Troy’s revitalization.

Troy is one of the largest school districts in the Capital Region. The personalized nature of being a small city school district empowers students to excel in an environment that encourages and supports lifelong learning. The school district has recently instituted a number of policies to elevate academic achievement.

The Performing Arts Department of The Troy City School District is dedicated to providing all students in Grades K-12 with a high quality music education. This includes incorporating and supporting the National and State Arts Standards while supporting creativity, communication skills, teamwork and self-discipline through diverse performing arts and musical experiences.

About Dorothy Chang

Described as "evocative and kaleidoscopic” (Seattle Times) the music of composer Dorothy Chang often reflects the eclectic mix of musical influences from her youth, ranging from popular and folk music to elements of traditional Chinese music.  Many of her works are inspired by place, time, memory and personal histories.

Dorothy’s catalog includes over seventy works for solo, chamber and large ensembles as well as collaborations involving theatre, dance and video.  Her interest in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration has led to projects including a radio play adaptation of Gertrude Stein’s White Wines for four vocalists and speaking percussionist, several mixed chamber ensemble works for Chinese and Western instruments, and most recently, a collaboration with choreographer Yukichi Hattori and four other composers in the large-scale True North Symphonic Ballet premiered in 2017 by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

 Her music has been featured in concerts and festivals across North America and abroad, with performances by the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Civic Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Queens Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, as well as by chamber ensembles including eighth blackbird, the Nu:BC Collective, the Smith Quartet, Soundstreams, the Chicago Saxophone Quartet, Collage New Music and Music from China, among others.

Awards and honours that Dorothy has received include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the International Alliance for Women in Music, Mu Phi Epsilon, the National Society of Arts and Letters, Meet the Composer and the Jacob Druckman Orchestra Prize from the Aspen Music Festival. She has received commissions from the Canada Council of the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, the Barlow Endowment, Chamber Music America, and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. For the 2003-04 and 2005-08 seasons, Dorothy held a Music Alive composer residency with the Albany Symphony Orchestra.   In 2008 she was awarded the inaugural commission  from the Women's Philharmonic Commissioning Project of Meet the Composer for a new orchestral work, Strange Air, which was premiered at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music by  Marin Alsop and the festival orchestra.

Born in Winfield, Illinois, Dorothy began her music studies on piano at age six and began composing at the age of fourteen. She received degrees in composition from the University of Michigan (B.M., M.M.) and the Indiana University School of Music (D.M). She has served on the music faculty at Indiana State University and since 2003 has been a Professor of Music at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  Upcoming projects include a new double concerto for erhu (Chinese fiddle) and piano, which will be premiered in 2018 by the Piano-Erhu Project and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.