MMB returns to the square for Battle of Marshall event

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Marshall Municipal Band returns to the east lawn of the Saline County Courthouse for one last performance in their 92nd season. This special concert by the band will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, Sept. 14, as part of the Battle of Marshall activities.

"We tried to include music that would have been heard during the Civil War," Director Kevin Lines said. "With just a few exceptions, this music would have been heard in the camps of troops from both the North and the South."

The concert will open with the march "Washington Grays," composed in 1861 by Claudio S. Grafulla. Grafulla's most popular piece was composed for the 8th Regiment, New York State Militia based at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.

The band continues the military theme with Clare Grundman's Civil War suite, "The Blue and the Gray." This work includes such well-known Civil War songs as "Kingdom Coming," "Marching Through Georgia," "Tenting Tonight," "The Yellow Rose of Texas," "The Bonnie Blue Flag," "Aura Lee," "Dixie," "Battle Cry of Freedom" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The band then turns to the North Carolina ballad, "He's Gone Away." This tender song presents the lament of a girl for her soldier gone to war. Unlike another North Carolina ballad, "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier," "He's Gone Away" is filled with hope for the young man's return as the lass who sings it continually looks for his familiar silhouette on the horizon.

Stephen Foster is considered to be the greatest composer of popular music in the 19th century. The band's next work is "Stephen Foster Revisited." This medley includes his classics: "Old Folks At Home," "Oh! Susanna," "Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair" and "Camptown Races."

The next selection was actually composed in 1982, but when famed filmmaker Ken Burns heard "Ashoken Farewell" in 1984, he was immediately taken by its haunting quality and included it in his PBS mini-series "The Civil War." The band will pair Ungar's work with a letter read by Randy Shannon from Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou. Ballou wrote this letter to his beloved just days before the Battle of Bull Run. Historically, Battle Run was the first major battle of the Civil War and most people believed the war would be short lived. Bull Run, however, showed that the war would turn into a long and bloody battle for both the North and the South.

The closing trilogy will begin with the Fred J. Allen arrangement, "They Led My Lord Away." This Allen setting of the hymn maintains the dignity and plaintive searching quality of the original hymn through the use of some of the many, beautiful sonorities available in the modern band.

"And while our last work was not from the Civil War era, we have learned through history that the freedom of all citizens is maintained by the brave men and women who selfishly serve our country in the armed services. This is we have chosen 'Armed Forces Salute' as our patriotic work for this special concert," Lines concluded.

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