Westminster Conservatory Faculty Recital Series Presents Eric Houghton's personal journey from alcoholism to health conveyed through music.
Anne Sears

The Westminster Conservatory Faculty Recital Series will continue with a performance entitled “Musical Program of Recovery” on Sunday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton. The program will feature compositions by Eric Houghton and Franz Schubert’s The Shepherd on the Rock.  The performers will be Aurora Micu, soprano; Kenneth Ellison, clarinet and Eric Houghton, piano.

“A little over two years ago, I was forced to make a choice: Should I live or should I die? I decided the former was a better way to go, and therefore spent a little over a week in nearby Carrier Clinic, rehabbing from chronic alcoholism. While there, I was able to grasp the once absurd notion that it might just be possible for me to survive without ever taking another drink. With the help of family, friends, God and a wonderful program of recovery, I am here to say that it is indeed possible. Quite more than that, it was the greatest and most rewarding decision I have ever made,” says Houghton.

“This “Musical Program of Recovery” is yet another way—through music—of telling what it was like to be in the grip of this most cunning of diseases…I try to capture some of the emotions and experiences of both the active user and the newly sober. I hope you are able to appreciate and enjoy what I was somehow able to create and now share with you,” he writes in the program notes.

Pianist and composer Eric Houghton is no stranger to the concert stage. Over the past 30 years, he has performed extensively throughout the Eastern United States, both in solo recitals and in collaboration with others. Most recently, Houghton performed the works of Felix Mendelssohn at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton.  As composer, his works have been performed in St. Louis, Chicago and New York City. His most recent song cycles, Songs of Life and—Death, set to words by Victor Hugo, and Three Psalms (2006), were debuted at Westminster and in St. Louis. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Houghton’s monumental Pioneer Songs. Now scored for full orchestra, chorus, soloists and narrator, the work will be performed in Princeton later this year.  In addition to his many other solo songs, church anthems and piano works, Houghton’s other two large-scale works, Victory Songs and Songs From the Cross have been performed to much acclaim.

Kenneth Ellison has performed internationally with many ensembles, including the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Riverside Symphonia, the Greenville Symphony and the American Fine Arts Festival. He has performed with many notable conductors, including Andrea Quinn, John Rutter, Frederick Fennell and Rossen Milanov, at such venues as Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, NJPAC and the Liszt School of Music. Mr. Ellison performs regularly with the Chelsea Opera Company, Trio21, New Jersey Arts Collective, The Danzon Trio and Tripleplay Winds, and is a founding member of [email protected]. He is on the master faculty at Westminster Conservatory and is an artist-in-residence at the Joshua Tree School. Mr. Ellison holds degrees from Furman University and Arizona State University.

Aurora Micu, a graduate of The Juilliard School’s Pre-College division on full scholarship, received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in vocal performance and pedagogy from Westminster Choir College in 1998. Ms. Micu has performed a variety of operatic roles including: Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Antonia (Les Contes D’Hoffmann), Lauretta and Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi), Anna (Le Villi), Flora (La Traviata), Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Michaela (Carmen) and Hansel (Hansel and Gretel). She has performed in recitals at CAMI Hall, Steinway Hall, Anderson Center (N.Y.), Bay View Music Festival (Mich.), International Chamber Music Festival at Casa Armatei/George Enescu Memorial House/International Early Music Festival at the Franciscan Cathedral, (Romania), and at the Sibelius, Strauss and bel canto master classes at the Britten-Pears Music Festival (U.K.).

Admission to the performance is free. Westminster Choir College of Rider University is located at 101 Walnut Lane in Princeton, N.J. To learn more, please call 609-921-7100 ext. 8307 or go to www.rider.edu/arts.