Musical legacy of the Civil War to be celebrated

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 1, 2007 – The Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, along with the Department of Music, is presenting a special program of music from the American Civil War on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m. in Burruss Hall Auditorium on the Blacksburg campus. "Music and Memories of the Civil War: A Living Legacy" marks the first time a historical program of this scale has been performed in Western Virginia.

Comprised of memorable music classics created before, during, and after the war, the program will be presented by 50 instrumentalists and 60 voices, complemented with narration provided by Seth Williamson, producer and chief announcer for WVTF Public Radio, and nationally recognized Civil War historian, author, and Alumni Distinguished Professor of History James I. "Bud" Roberston Jr. Robertson is executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies.

In addition to ranking among the most studied and documented events in the nation's history, the American Civil War also spawned a litany of musical scores that over the years have enhanced understanding of the mood and sentiments of the men and women--North and South-- engaged in that long and costly struggle. Although no great American symphonies, operas, or string quartets originated from 1861-1865, music was a natural outlet for the deep emotionalism of the period, and the outpouring of new melodies that focused on the war and its participants formed the very foundation of music composition in this nation.

Participating in the event will be the Music Department's Virginia Tech Concert Choir, University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, pianist Tracy Cowden, soprano Nancy McDuffie, and baritone Theodore (Tadd) Sipes, along with Robertson, who will provide historical context to the selections, and Williamson, who will serve as special guest narrator for a reading of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” set to music by composer Luigi Zaninelli.

Among the planned highlights of the concert will be "An American Salute," performed by the University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, with narration by Seth Williamson; "Ashoakan Farewell," which was the theme song for the popular Ken Burns/Public Broadcasting System series "The Civil War"; gospel songs performed by Nancy McDuffie; Negro spirituals sung by the Concert Choir; and an assortment of Stephen Foster selections featuring baritone Theodore Sipes and piano selections by Tracy Cowden. The program will be narrated by Robertson and supplemented by a visual presentation of Civil War photographs and art wortk.

Tickets for the event are currently on sale at the box office in Squires Student Center. General admission is $10 and $7 for seniors. Student tickets are $5. Special group rates are also available. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and the Department of Music.