Songs of a bygone era
Schuylkill Ch oral Society to present‘ Remembering World War I’
The year was 1918, and the “War to End All Wars” was nearly concluded with an armistice that eventually led to the Treaty of Versailles. Before and during the war, just like wars since, songs of both patriotism and anti- war messages played, and after the war, songs lauding victory and peace.
Thisweekend, a local ensemble will be celebrating and commemorating the centennial of the culmination of The Great War.
The Schuylkill Choral Society, celebrating its 45th year, will be performing the concertWar I” at 3 p.m. Sunday at the D. H. H. Len gel Middle School auditorium, Pottsville. Tickets are $ 12 for students and seniors and $ 18 for general admission, and can be purchased fromany choral society member, at the door or by calling 570- 628- 3388.
The chorale is under the direction of Grammy- nominated Music Director Mark P. Thomas, with accompaniment from Kimberly Breiner Stoudt.
The performance warranted an indefatigable amount of studying, especially about the ideologies of the people of the time, and is meant to evoke the spirit of the time period and honor citizens and soldiers alike, without feeling anachronistic, Thomas said.
“I wanted to do a tribute to the men and women of that era which marked a major turning point in the history of the United States,” Thomas said. “Theworld drastically changed after that war and the United States emerged as aworld power. Inmy research, I wanted to find out what the people of that time were feeling and thinking. The music of this concert definitely reflects the many facets of those feelings.”
Thomas said that at the beginning of the war there was some apprehension but there was also a strong sense of pride and patriotism.
“As the war continued and the horrors of that war became known at home there was an anti- war feeling that emerged aswell. There was also the feeling of loss, fear, longing for the good old days and determination in the cause. The music of this concert will reflect all of those emotions and the audience will be given a wide range of this music of how and what the people of that time were feeling,” he said.
He added that the music, or what’s left of it since some has been lost over the years, includes nationalistic pieces to which lay people would have listened— and some of which are still difficult to find today. Despite that, he was able to take a modern approach to the century- old tunes while still doing them justice.
“The patriotic selections were the ones that are still available and have become part of our society even today. Some of the popular music of the day I found in old song sheets and song books. Therewere no choral arrangements of these selections available so I was able to add harmonies to them while keeping with the meaning and flavor of the originals,” he said.
In the end, Thomas said, he believes the hardwork will pay off, and the audience members will leave more informed than they entered.
“I am very pleased to be doing this music and I believe the audience will find it fascinating. Before each selection a chorus member will be reading a passage explaining the meaning and history behind the work. It is mostly music that has been forgotten but it is fascinating and has been a great experience for the chorus members to learn and nowto present to our community,” he said.
Frank Strahan, Pottsville, right, along with other members of the Schuylkill Choral Society, rehearse for the group’s upcoming concert, “Remembering World War I,” to be presented at 3 p. m. Sunday at D. H. H. Lengel Middle School auditorium,...