Masterworks commemorates Civil War Sesquicentennial with period music

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Photo by Jeffrey Leo Kathy Bizarth, Masterworks Chorale artistic director, leads a recent rehearsal. The Newnan-Coweta Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee is working to recognize a pivotal point in the history of this country and Coweta County 150 years ago.

By JOAN DOGGRELL Special to Times-Herald Newnan's Masterworks Chorale is dedicating its Oct. 23 fall concert to the Newnan-Coweta sesquicentennial observation of the Civil War. Next weekend's concert will include spirituals, folk tunes, a Stephen Foster medley, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and an evocative rendition of "Dixie." In keeping with a Masterworks tradition, this first concert of the season is free to the public, and scholarships will be awarded to promising music students.
"Music played and sung during the Civil War became the foundation for the first truly American music," said Kathy Bizarth, Masterworks' artistic director. "It was a blend of European, African and Native American music. No longer were the melodies, rhythms and harmonies purely a copy of the music our European settlers brought." The concert will be divided into the popular music of the time, the songs of the slave, the songs of the soldier and the songs of the division. Narration will be provided by Dr. David Gregory. According to Jan Bowyer, Newnan-Coweta Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee chair, the committee's mission is "to recognize a pivotal point in the history of this country and county 150 years ago. Through living history, lectures, art, music, drama and literature, we want to present life in Coweta County in the 1860s, recognize our achievements in the years since and thus look forward to the years to come." Realizing they couldn't complete such an ambitious mission in a single year, the Sesquicentennial Committee chose to spread their programs over a four-year time frame. The focus for 2011 has been and continues to be music, poetry, art and plays of the early 1860s. Masterworks will join other artists taking part in the observance. These have included Natasha Tretheway, a Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry who gave a reading at the Centre in January; the American Plays Theatre, which performed "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" in March; Martin Pate, whose Civil War paintings have been on exhibit at the Centre since September; and the Newnan-Coweta Art Association, which just held a Civil War Era Art Show in early October. The 2012 focus will be education through first person narrators visiting Coweta County schools and other locations in the community. "Actors will portray medical personnel demonstrating Civil War medical methods of that time. This will provide opportunities for students and others to learn more about living circumstances of Newnan in the war years," explained Bowyer. "War in Newnan," the theme planned for 2013, will include profiles of local heroes. To demonstrate everyday life during the war years, there will be period clothing fashion shows, artifact exhibits, and even a home and garden tour featuring backyard gardens with flowers, vegetables, herbs, and domestic animals of that day. In 2014, 150 years after the Battle of Brown's Mill, there will be re-enactments at the battle site south of Newnan. Medical units will show how the wounded were transported and cared for in Newnan from the Train Depot to the historic Court Square in Newnan where long tents were set up to house and treat the wounded. The Masterworks Chorale's Civil War concert will be held at the Centre for the Performing and Visual Arts on Lower Fayetteville Road in Newnan on Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. The concert is free. Donations toward the scholarship fund will be appreciated.


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