The Clarke County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee will be presenting the final event in its five-year program of activities, a concert of Civil War-related choral music titled “Reconciliation”, in Berryville at Grace Episcopal Church at 7:30 on Friday, November 20.
The concert will be performed by the Consort of the Winchester Arts Chorale, led by Michael Main. The principal feature of the concert will be rarely heard settings of four poems by Walt Whitman for choir and classical guitar. The guest artist will be Kenneth Meyer, Professor of Guitar at Syracuse University.
Other music on the program will include psalms and spirituals, as well as organ music by Dr. Richard McPherson, formerly professor of organ at James Madison University. The concert will be a little over an hour in length and is free to the public.
The Committee was authorized by the Clarke Board of Supervisors in 2011 in response to a request from the Virginia General Assembly that every county and city form such a group to commemorate the anniversary of the national struggle which impacted Virginia so deeply.
The Committee focused on the “homefront” in Clarke during the Civil War and on the both the white and black populations (both enslaved and free). But it also commemorated the two significant battles which occurred in the county, the Battle of Cool Spring, and the Battle of Berryville, which led directly into to the largest battle of the War in the Shenandoah Valley, Third Winchester.
The Civil War 150 commemoration in Clarke required the work of many partners, including the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, the Clarke County Public Schools, the Clarke County Historical Association, Long Branch Plantation, the Barns of Rose Hill, the Clermont Foundation, Shenandoah University, Holy Cross Abbey, and many others.
The four years of war, 1861-1865, in the end reunited the nation and freed over 4 million enslaved people but at a terrible cost, including the death of at least 2% of the entire population killed in battle (equivalent to over 8 million people in today’s population).
One of the first events in the Clarke commemoration was a concert by local musicians organized by Jesse Russell and Adela Al-Khalili entitled “Clarke County 1861: A Community at a Crossroads.” The Committee felt it was appropriate to also end the observances in 2015 with another concert, this time on the theme of reconciliation, a process still proceeding in our country today.