Civil War Memories

Excerpt: “Inside Out”

Instrumentation: Electronic
Duration: 19:00 (Individual movements available, especially Inside Out, 9:14)
Commission: Jane Franklin Dance
Premiere: 4/30/05
Gunston Theatre One, Alexandria, VA

Program Note:
Civil War Memories is based on short fragments of letters and descriptions from the Civil War era. My colleague and noted Civil War historian Ed Ayers kindly read several of these passages, and composer Joe Adkins sang and hummed a verse from Rally Round the Flag, as well as reading other passages. I am grateful to them both for their participation and permission to use these recordings. I read other passages myself. The first movement, Clear Cut, was inspired by a description of the falling of a whole hillside of timber, so the troops might march through. The second movement, Inside Out, is based on Ed Ayer’s reading of a short excerpt by Frank Wilkeson, a private soldier in the Army of the Potomac, describing the horrors of the robbing of dead soldiers. Farewell is based on my own reading of Marion Southwood’s description of some 20,000 people, mainly women and children, bidding their dear ones goodbye. The officials tried to keep back the women, but they were “not to be scared.” The Raining Heavily passage is a heartbreaking depiction of life at the front, while Cry Freedom, the last movement is based on Joseph Adkin’s singing of the popular northern tune, Rally Round the Flag. The music was created using RTcmix, a free, open-source program to process recorded sounds of each movement, whether the chopping sounds of Clear Cut, or the passages read or sung in the other movements. Inside Out may be presented as a separate movement. –JS

Civil War Memories
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