Songs of a by­gone era

Schuylkill Ch oral So­ci­ety to present‘ Re­mem­ber­ing World War I’

The Republican Herald - This Weekend - - News - BY DANIEL P. PROSICK COPY ED­I­TOR

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.

JACQUE­LINE DORMER / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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,...

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