Concert to feature classical music inspired by World War I

Barry Milligan and Dennis Loranger in Schuster Hall

Barry Milligan, associate chair and professor of English, left, and Dennis Loranger, lecturer of music and English, have organized Wright State’s fourth annual “Poetry and Music Concert” on April 24 in Schuster Hall in the Creative Arts Center.

Students and faculty from Wright State’s music and English programs will collaborate in a concert examining how World War I influenced classical music.

The fourth annual “Poetry and Music Concert” will be held Friday, April 24, 8 p.m. in Schuster Hall in the Creative Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

The concert is a collaboration between the School of Music and the Department of English Language and Literatures. It is organized by Dennis Loranger, lecturer of music and English, and Barry Milligan, associate chair and professor of English.

The concert will feature the reading of poems and musical settings of those poems. All of the music and poetry are linked in some way to the war. Many were written by poets or composers who were in the war and “addressed the zeitgeist of the war experience through those settings,” Milligan said.

Student soloists, accompanied by pianist Steve Aldredge, and choirs, including the University Chorus and Women’s Choir, will sing the songs.

The concert is the final program this academic year in “A Long, Long Way: Echoes of the Great War,” organized by Wright State’s Ohio Center of Excellence in Collaborative Education, Leadership and Innovation in the Arts (CELIA).

Focused on the intersection of the war and the arts, the project has presented music, poetry, exhibits and films designed to inspire understanding of WWI.

The concert builds on the collaboration Wright State’s history, music and English programs engaged in to organize the WWI project.

But while the concert has always been collaborative, Milligan said “A Long, Long Way” has provided “an opportunity to add a new dimension” by inspiring English and music faculty to select material associated with the war.

The concert will feature the premiere of original pieces by Ginger Minneman, adjunct instructor of voice and director of the Women’s Chorale, and Steve Aldredge, music instructor.

Minneman composed a choral piece based on “Spring in Wartime” by American poet Sara Teasdale. It’s one of three war poems Teasdale wrote.

The poem juxtaposes the theme of grief with beautiful images of spring, which symbolize the possibility of hope.

“It expresses the bleakness and despair of grief, while at the same time acknowledging the joy of springtime and expresses the inherent difficulty in reconciling the two coexisting,” Minneman said. “Sometimes in our grief, it is difficult to imagine that life will go on or that there will be beauty or laughter or pleasure again.”

Aldredge composed a new setting of a hymn originally from William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem” that became associated with WWI.

The concert will primarily feature British poems and songs. Many address the experiences and thoughts of young people who entered the war as idealists and became bitter through their experiences, Loranger said.

The concert will include settings by English composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and George Butterworth of “Is My Team Ploughing” by poet A. E. Housman. The poem is an ironic dialogue between a young man who is dead and his friend who is still alive, said Milligan, who as a CELIA Fellow helped organize “A Long, Long Way.”

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