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American Music Month to feature Lincoln-themed concerts, exhibits


Phil Ciciora, News Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — For the fifth consecutive year, November is American Music Month at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Urbana campus’ Sousa Archives and Center for American Music will host American Music Month, an annual concert series that celebrates the rich tapestry of American music through a series of themed concerts, lectures, master classes and exhibitions. This year’s theme explores the dynamic traditions of Civil War-era music, and the impact of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy on our musical heritage.

“Throughout his tenure as president, Lincoln heard music of every variety in the White House, in the military camps he visited, and in the concert halls of Washington, D.C.,” said Scott Schwartz, archivist of the university’s Sousa Archives and Center for American Music and organizer of the event. “Lincoln’s love of music was passionate, and the melodies and lyrics that were closest to him reflected the tragedy, joy, defeat and victory experienced first-hand by his contemporaries and his country.”

This year’s festivities begin Nov. 1 with an exhibition titled “Creative Industry Forging New Music Horizons.” Highlighting the evolution of early music instrument design and music composition practices of the 19th and 20th centuries, the exhibition will also feature historical documents, photographs, music manuscripts, sound recordings and artifacts in the center’s newly renovated museum space.

Other activities planned include a performance by Anthony Brown’s Asian American Jazz Orchestra; the grand re-opening of the newly renovated archives and center; the fourth annual Granny’s Porch concert at the Virginia Theatre, with traditional old-time music and dance; and a gala 19th-century dance featuring dance callers, a fiddler and the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry Band in full Civil War-era military dress.

More information is available on the Web or by calling 244-9309.

The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music is part of the U. of I. Library and the University Archives. It acquires and preserves significant archival records and historical artifacts in multiple media formats that document America’s local and national music history and its diverse cultures, Schwartz said.

The center’s collections are used for scholarly research, exhibitions, journalism, documentary productions, school programs, music performances and other research and educational activities. The center actively pursues alliances inside and outside the university community, and, as necessary, financial support.