News From Terre Haute, Indiana


October 21, 2011

Sinfonietta presents ‘Blue and the Gray’

TERRE HAUTE — Through the magic of music, the Terre Haute Sinfonietta Pops Orchestra will recreate the time and place when Americans fought Americans in the Civil War. Music was important to the soldiers of the Civil War, both North and South. It stirred patriotism in soldiers and civilians alike but also soothed their souls to the harsh realities and horrors of war.

The “Blue and the Gray” concert will be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Hippodrome Theatre at the Scottish Rite Building at Eighth and Ohio streets.

Music Director James Chesterson urges the public to arrive 30 minutes prior to the concert for a pre-concert performance. Five members of the Sinfonietta brass section, Ron Dunbar and Steve Steppe on trumpet, Bill Heinrich on trombone, Nancy Gormong on euphonium and Judy Hamilton on horn, will be performing a pre-concert selection of music written during the Civil War.  

The narrator for the concert is Peter Ciancone, a history enthusiast and executive director of The Wabash Independent Living & Learning Center, a not-for-profit agency that serves people with disabilities.

Terre Haute actor and director Chuck Shutt will sing “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Shutt has been performing for more than 50 years, starting at the University of Illinois, the Red Mask Theatre and The Springfield Muny Opera in Illinois. He has also been an actor and director with the Terre Haute Community Theatre for 45 years. He has also performed at the Crossroads Repertory Theatre. Shutt’s great grandfather, Thomas Barbee, along with three brothers, all served in the 49th Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War and fought in the battle of Shiloh.

The playlist for the concert includes “Shenandoah,” a traditional folk song dating at least to the early 19th century. It’s a hauntingly beautiful melody that transcends both time and place and evokes a sense of loss and longing. A total change of pace is the rousing “The Great Locomotive Chase,” a bold adventure on the part of Unions soldiers to disrupt the 138-mile rail line connecting Atlanta, Ga., and Chattanooga, Tenn.

“Ashokan Farewell,” composed by Jay Ungar in 1982, is the signature piece in Ken Burns documentary of “The Civil War” and is played 25 times throughout the 11-hour series, including during the emotional reading of Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife in the first episode. Chesterson will read Ballou’s letter prior to the playing of the piece.

The Sinfonietta will perform the “Tara” theme from “Gone With the Wind,” one of the most romantic pieces ever written. An immigrant from Vienna, Austria, in 1914, Maximilian Raoul Steiner quickly made a name for himself, first on Broadway and later in Hollywood. In 1939 he was borrowed from Warner Brothers to compose the score to “Gone With the Wind”; the film and his score has been considered one of the best American films of all time.

The Terre Haute Sinfonietta is able to perform in part through grants from Arts Illiana and the City of Terre Haute.

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