Monday, October 07, 2013

Mode - Knoxville: Summer of 1915

I recently went to a somewhat unusual event at the Ruth Page Center for Music and Dance.  The Mode Ensemble - a collection of a dozen or so talented musicians put together an evening of Early American and Civil War Era music in a constant flow of ever-changing ensemble on stage.

Offering era-appropriate food and very sweet cocktails while performers and audience members dressed the part, the evening was a lot of fun and felt transportive.

Ashlee Hardgrave did an excellent job with Alan Louis Smith's Covered Wagon Women Vignettes, and the Prairie Spring, Haymaker's Hoedown and Banjo & Fiddle performances at the end of the first half were energetic and skillfully played.  The second half of the evening though was where all the emotion came out.  Anthony Plog's Songs of War and Loss, sung by ????? (performer's names were not included in the program) was intense and it was followed by a dark reading of a Civil War Soldier's letter over Jay Ungar's Ashokan Farewell (from Ken Burns' documentary on the Civil War).  Copeland's Quiet City and Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 made a fantastic end to a really well-rounded and enjoyable show.

The program could have been more complete and the initial words about the final piece, which lasted a good half hour, could have been left out, but the music was really the important part, and Mode knocked that out of the park.

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