‘Voices’ program to focus on letters from Civil War

CANAJOHARIE — “Home Voices: The American Civil War Experience Through Words and Music” will be held Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Arkell Museum.

Wanda Burch, historian and writer, and John Kenosian, singer and songwriter, received a Saratoga Arts Community Arts grant for the presentation of performances of “Home Voices” in Montgomery County.

Joining Wanda and John will be Gisella Montanez-Case, lead singer with the 77th NY Regimental Balladeers.

The program will present excerpts from original letters to and from the Civil War soldiers’ loved ones, accompanied by original words and music by John Kenosian.

The letters are based on a new book by Wanda Burch. “The Home Voices Speak Louder than the Drums: Dreams and the Imagination in Civil War Letters and Memoirs” [McFarland Publishers, summer 2017]. Burch will be available to sign her book before the program at 6:30 p.m.

Providing fresh perspective on the human side of the Civil War, the book explores the dreams and imaginations of those who fought it, as recorded in their letters, journals and memoirs. Sometimes published as poems or songs or printed in newspapers, these writings reflect the personalities and experiences of their authors, a news release said. Some expressions of fear, pain, loss, homesickness and disappointment are related with grim fatalism, and others with glimpses of humor.

“Soldier mortals would not survive if they were not blessed with the gift of imagination and the pictures of hope,” wrote Confederate Private Henry Graves in the trenches outside Petersburg, Virginia, according to the news release. “The second angel of mercy is the night dream.”

Audience participation on traditional songs from the period will be encouraged.

The program is free, but donations are welcome.

For information about the event, contact Jenna Peterson Riley, curator of education and public engagement, at (518) 673-2314 or jriley@arkellmuseum.org. For information about the book or music, contact Burch at (518) 281-4937, at ronwan@capital.net, or at www.facebook.com/wanda.burch.1.