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ASU Civil War Series Takes to the Stage

March 07, 2013

For the final two programs of the academic year, Angelo State University’s Civil War Lecture Series will move from lectures to performances with programs on Civil War music on March 26 and a dramatic reading of original Civil War letters on April 16-17.

Dr. Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai, a Civil War scholar on the ASU history faculty and coordinator for this year’s lecture series, said the final programs will provide an emotional connection between today’s audience and those who lived through the conflict by presenting both period music common to everyone of that period and the private letters of a Union soldier and his wife, until now unread outside the family.

“As we wrap up the second year of our Civil War commemoration series,” Wongsrichanalai said, “I thought it would be nice to add a new dimension to the program.  To make a real connection with history, people need to look beyond the historical narrative, the charts and graphs, the maps and lines of succession.  To really connect with history, people need to have an emotional connection to the subject.  Period music and correspondence can make that connection.”

Dr. John E. Irish, ASU professor of music, is coordinating the March 26 program, “Music of the Civil War.”  He will give a general overview of the music, musicians, instruments and repertoire of the era’s music.  Tunes from the era will be performed by the Ice House Brass and guest soloist Dr. John Carroll, principal trumpet of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, on a cornet from the era.  The program will begin at 7 p.m. in University Auditorium.

“The generation that fought the conflict was a musical one and they used tunes to both inspire and march to,” Wongsrichanalai said.  “The audiences will be able to recognize many songs, such as ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ and ‘Dixie’ during the musical performance.”

“Beloved Companion:  The Civil War Letters of James and Frances Catherine Wood,” will be performed as a dramatic reading on the University Auditorium stage at 7 p.m. April 16-17.  Student actors under the direction of Dr. Bill Doll, director of University Theatre, will perform excerpts from the couple’s correspondence.

Wood served the last nine months of the Civil War in Virginia as a member of the 199th Pennsylvania.  The letters are in the possession of their great, great granddaughter, Harriet Lewis, a member of ASU’s physical therapy faculty, who compiled and edited the letters, along with her husband, for the dramatic reading.

“With the April event, we want audiences to connect to some of the people who lived through the era,” said Wongsrichanalai.  “We sometimes forget that the men and women of the Civil War generation had the same emotions as we did.  They felt fear and love and hatred and anger like us.  ‘Beloved Companion’ turns the powerful letters of one Pennsylvanian family into a dramatic reading, which will capture the essence of loyalty, love and sacrifice during the final days of the Civil War.”

“Beloved Companion” is being made possible by grants from the University Center Program Council and the Office of the President.  Both the March and April programs are open free to the public.

Persons interested in more information on the Civil War series can e-mail the ASU History Department at

The Civil War series is jointly sponsored by multiple ASU departments, including the History Department, Center for Security Studies, West Texas Collection, Multicultural Center and Air Force ROTC, as well as Fort Concho and the Concho Valley Civil War Roundtable, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of that watershed event in American history.