Songs of the Civil War,
Sunday, April 28, 7 pm
Westport’s Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road
Tickets available at the door, $15
When they gathered near their watch fires in the evening, many Civil War soldiers on both sides often turned to music for solace. If someone had a fiddle, they might sing a popular romantic ballad of the period. Or, if their unit had a marching band, as most did, they might sing an anthem like the Confederacy’s “The Bonnie Blue Flag.”
On April 28, baritone Jose Andrade will perform Civil War songs at Westport’s Unitarian Church. The 7 p.m. concert jointly benefits the church and the Westport Historical Society.
The program will also feature a talk by Brian O’Leary of the Historical Society, who will show newspaper clippings telling how Westport voted in the pivotal 1860 election and discuss the 60 or so men from Westport who volunteered in the 17th Regiment, based in Fairfield.
Among other favorites, Andrade’s performance will include the haunting Civil War love song “Aura Lee,” which even these 150 years later will sound familiar to most Westporters. Elvis Presley used the melody for “Love Me Tender.” Andrade will also sing “Dixie,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the Stephen Foster classic “Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair.”
A resident of New York City, Andrade has performed with opera companies around the country. Though he had a relative who fought for a Florida regiment during the War Between the States, Andrade’s say his interest in the war was really piqued when his brother, Eduardo, was working on the film “Gettysburg” and he visited the set.
As a sad and moving end note, Andrade pointed out that as the defeated Confederates trudged away from the Battle of Gettysburg one of their marching bands played “Nearer My God to Thee.”
The church’s 25-year-old Steinway piano will be one of the beneficiaries of the concert. Music Minister Ed Thompson said the piano has gotten heavy use over the years and is in need of restringing.
Although Abraham Lincoln carried Connecticut in 1860, he achieved only a plurality in Westport, with about 48 percent of the vote. O’Leary said Lee’s twine manufacturing company, which relied on Southern cotton, was one of the town’s major employers at the time and that Westporters apparently voted “their pocket books” when they went to the polls.
His discussion will also touch on the individual Westporters who served in the war. He will show a photo of the Confederate officer who gave the order to fire on Fort Sumter and of the general who commanded the 17th.
Please join the Westport Historical Society and the Unitarian Church for this evening of history and music. Tickets are $15 at the door. For more information, contact the church at (203) 227-7205 or call WHS, 203-222-1424.