NORTH MANCHESTER – A collection of a family’s letters from the Civil War era inspired Manchester University professor Debra Lynn to write “A Family Portrait,” which debuted at Manchester University in 2017.

 She will conduct the oratorio at Carnegie Hall on May 30, 2022, with several combined festival choirs – including MU’s A Cappella Choir, its alumni and friends – and the New England Symphonic Ensemble.

Lynn invites individual singers, as well as community, school church and other choirs, to join the five-day residency May 27-31, with the Memorial Day concert.

 “A Family Portrait” makes a wonderful festival piece because it is entirely in English, and it does not require advanced musical skill. It was intentionally composed with the intent of being accessible to non-professional singers,” Lynn said. “It also has wonderful educational value because much of the multi-layered musical material is derived from folksongs, hymns and children’s songs from the Civil War era. If you’re an American history buff, you’ll be in heaven learning and performing this piece.”

The Manchester University business office is creating an online registration form and payment platform. Lynn said it should be up and running sometime during spring semester.

Singers will get printed music and recorded materials will help with practice. Participants who are near North Manchester are welcome to attend rehearsals on campus with the A Cappella Choir if they choose. Those who wish to sing must register with Manchester University’s Music Department by mid-September.

She said there would be plenty of time for sightseeing during the New York residency.

Lynn has conducted at Carnegie Hall twice, 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 and residents of Wabash County.