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Choral Concert celebrates love and loss through music

Shortly before Maj. Sullivan Ballou was killed during the Civil Wars First Battle of Bull Run, the Union officer wrote a letter to his wife, Sarah, stating, If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights.

The letter reappeared a few years ago as part of Ken Burns famous PBS documentary, The Civil War, inspiring composer James Syler to put the poetic words to music.
Shortly before Maj. Sullivan Ballou was killed during the Civil War's First Battle of Bull Run, the Union officer wrote a letter to his wife, Sarah, stating, “If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights.”

The letter reappeared a few years ago as part of Ken Burns' famous PBS documentary, “The Civil War,” inspiring composer James Syler to put the poetic words to music.

“It's a fantastic piece of music,” Korre Foster, assistant professor of music at Austin Peay State University, said.

The resulting song, “Dear Sarah,” plays a prominent role in APSU's upcoming choral concert, celebrating love and loss. The concert, featuring the University Choir and the Chamber Singers, begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 25 in the APSU Music/Mass Communication Building.

“The title is ‘Love and Loss,” and it's in regards to a couple different themes,” Foster said. “There's love and loss of a loved one do to a war. There's love and loss of female love. There's love and loss of a child, and love and loss of a good night's sleep.”

Each theme will feature between two or three pieces that will “shock and move” the audience, Foster said. The concert will last about an hour and is free and open to the public.

The show marks Foster's first major spring performance since his arrival at APSU seven months ago as the new director of choral activities. He wanted to do something other than throwing together different songs and calling it a choral concert, so he searched for music around the theme of “Love and Loss.”

Foster came to APSU from the University of Miami, and he plans other major choral shows in the coming years, including a return next December of APSU's popular “Hanging of the Greens” tradition.

He is also actively recruiting students to join the University Choir. The choir, he said, is a non-audition group and is open to anyone on campus who enjoys singing and music.

For more information on this month's concert or the University Choir, contact Foster at 221-7002 or fosterk@apsu.edu. -- Charles Booth