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Riders on the Orphan Train

The Presenters


Alison Moore, Author/Humanities Scholar
Alison Moore, MFA, is a former Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona and a current Humanities Scholar. She lives in Austin and has been touring nationally since 1998 with the multi-media program "Riders on the Orphan Train" that is currently the official outreach program for the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center. She has also developed public outreach programs for the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc. and for ArtsReach, a Native American literacy project in Southern Arizona.

She is the author of four books, the historical novel "Riders on the Orphan Train" from Roadworthy Press in 2012, a collection of short fiction, The Middle of Elsewhere from Phoenix International, University of Arkansas Press in 2006, a novel, Synonym for Love (Penguin/Plume 1996), and. a collection of short stories entitled Small Spaces between Emergencies (Mercury House, 1992) one of the Notable Books of 1993 chosen by The American Library Association She received two National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Fellowships in 1993 and 2010 and the Katherine Ann Porter Prize for Fiction in 2004. In 2007/2008 she received the J. Frank Dobie Paisano fellowship from the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters. In 2012 she received the Charles Loring Brace Award for helping to preserve the stories of the Orphan Trains.


Phil Lancaster, Musician/Presenter
Phil Lancaster was born in Texarkana, Arkansas and studied art and music at L'Ecole De Beaux Arts in Angers, France. He became a member of a bluegrass band that toured throughout France and produced an album entitled "Bluegrass Oldies Ltd./Traveling Show." After returning to the U.S. he met three Arkansas musicians and the acoustic quartet "Still on the Hill" was formed in Fayetteville. They released their first CD in 1997, the second in 2000. The group performed at national and international folk festivals. Currently, he tours in France with Phillipe Charlot in the acoustic duo "Transatlantique." In 2007 he received an Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship in Music Composition. He is co-producer of the documentary film "Gospel, Biscuits and Gravy" about Ozark gospel singer Ernestine Shepherd and presenter of "Riders on the Orphan Train," the official outreach program for the National Orphan Train Complex.


imageWe were so moved by the documentary we saw on the Orphan Trains that we each wrote a ballad about the subject and began to research the material through the Orphan Train Heritage Society which turned out to be right in our backyard in Springdale, Arkansas. We were privileged to take part in The Orphan Train Heritage Society's tenth anniversary celebration in 1997, a reenactment of an orphan train ride from Springdale to Van Buren, Arkansas. We dressed in period costume and rode the train performing the songs we had written. The experience of seeing this event unfold visually in much the same way we had imagined it in writing the songs and the story was extraordinary. We hope to help bring this subject to public awareness through the medium of artistic performance, to extend what has become a personal passion that will teach as well as touch people concerned not only with an experience that is uniquely American but ultimately, deeply human.


Alison Moore | Phil Lancaster

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