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Civil War Music Planned for ASU Lecture Series

March 19, 2013

The sounds of the 1860s will come alive when the sixth program in Angelo State University’s 2012-13 Civil War Lecture Series explores the “Music of the Civil War” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, in the University Auditorium.

Dr. John E. Irish, ASU professor of music, 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.

Open free to the public, the musical performance will feature six pieces, evenly split between music arranged by southern and northern bands.  Irish will talk about the songs, the bands and the composers.

Southern songs, all performed as played by the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band, will include “Rock Me to Sleep, Mother,” “Here’s Your Mule Galop” and a medley of “Dixie” and “The Bonnie Blue Flag.”

Northern songs will include the “Battle Hymn Quick Step” from the 25th Massachusetts Regimental Band books, “Gentle Annie” from the U.S. Marine Band archives and “Vaillance Polka Militaire” from Squire’s Cornet Band Olio.

Before his affiliation with the San Antonio Symphony, guest soloist Carroll had been principal trumpet for the Boston Opera and the Columbus Symphony.  He has also played for the Springfield Symphony and the Detroit Symphony.  He is a founding member and executive director of the San Antonio Brass.

Carroll holds a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University, a master’s degree in music from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Texas at Austin.  A collector of instruments, Carroll owns 77 vintage cornets, hundreds of mouthpieces and numerous trumpets.

The Ice House Brass was formed in 1990 by a group of San Angelo citizens interested in playing music together and eventually evolved into a full brass band with an emphasis on music from the mid-1800s.  Since then, the group has performed at Fort Concho, Fort McKavett and Fort Chadbourne, as well as for various organizations interested in history. 

The music of the mid-1800s is highly energetic.  Many familiar tunes from that era include polkas, schottisches, waltzes, quick-steps, galops and marches.  The slow tunes reflect love and longing of home, mothers and wives.

Ice House Brass members who will be performing during the March 26 presentation are:  Trumpet – Kristin Ellis, Mike Maner, John Parsons and Donna Fowler; Horn – Doug Smith; Trombone – Brandon Archer, Jim Nevins, Mark Cooper and Travis Meitzen; Euphonium – Mark Crouch and Eric Hansen; Tuba – Jake Martin; and Percussion – Jack Pool.

Dr. Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai, a Civil War scholar on the ASU history faculty and coordinator for this year’s lecture series, said, “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.”

“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.”

ASU’s 2012-13 Civil War Lecture Series will conclude April 16-17 with “Beloved Companion:  The Civil War Letters of James and Frances Catherine Wood,” at 7 p.m. in the ASU Auditorium in the Mayer Administration Building.  The staged dramatic reading is being made possible by grants from the University Center Program Council and the Office of the President.

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.

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