The Lads in Their Hundreds: Songs and Arias of World War I

Robert Peavler will present his faculty voice recital in Pease Auditorium, The Lads in Their Hundreds: Songs and Arias of World War I on Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Peayler will do this with the help of pianist Kevin Bylsma and Eastern Michigan University student dancers and actors Danielle Clevenger, Stephen Lambert and Theodore Hauke.

Before the recital at 6:45 p.m., professor Jesse Kaufmann of the History and Philosophy department will give a presentation titled “Never Such Innocence Again: The Great War and Western Culture.”

The recital’s World War I theme comes straight from the auditorium it is being held in. This year is the Pease Centennial Celebration. The auditorium was opened in 1914, the same year World War I started.

“This recital is a bit more like a staged production,” said Peavler. “It incorporates projected images and songs, as well as readings from letters from World War I, dance, and actors.”

Breaking from traditional recital form, a singer and pianist on stage performing sets of music, Peavler decided to present his audience with a multi-media program erring more on the side of mini opera than song recital.

“For each number I really focused on giving physicality to the emotion of the song,” said Clevenger, a junior who choreographed the event. “Some numbers are very comical and lighthearted and some are very serious and sad. I wanted to give the audience something eye catching and poignant to watch depending on the piece.”

Intertwined with the music will be letter readings by Clevenger and Lambert that serve as transitions in the overall story of the soldiers being told.

“They tie the storyline together for everyone who was affected by the war,” said Peavler. “Sweethearts, wives, lovers, children, and families.”

Ultimately, the audience will be given the opportunity to experience the World War I soldier experience.

“I tried to choose music from composers of the time that helped to tell the story of soldiers getting ready to go into battle, going and being on foreign soil in a country not native to them, then what life was like in the trenches of battle, and leading to the desperation of war, and then finally the final section of the recital, Prayer for Peace,” said Peavler.

The final number will be a world premier, an original hymn tune written for the recital by Anthony Maglione.

“By looking backward we can see through the horror of war, why we want to avoid war, and hopefully create a future where this type of conflict never has to happen again,” said Peavler. “It’s a hope for the future.”

Keeping with the non-traditional recital theme of the show, Peavler has worked to incorporate images secured from Eastern Michigan’s University Archives and the Ypsilanti Historical Society from around campus during the show’s time period, 1914-1919.

“This will be one of the more unique recital types of experiences because of the theatrical atmosphere. A normal academic recital is the type of event that draws people who already love that music,” said Peavler. “This is a new take on that tradition in the hopes of encouraging people who wouldn't normally come to this type of program to participate and to see the value and the beauty in the music and hopefully to come back for other types of programs.”

Rather than focus solely on the bleak side of war, all aspects will be showcased.

“One of the parts of putting together the program was trying to find music that wasn't just heavy gloom and doom music about war but to find music that covered the humanity, the awfulness, and sometimes even the humor that can come out of even the worst of situations,” said Peavler.

The story told is a human take on an event and cast a foreign light on it.

“The show is beautiful and touching,” said Clevenger. “It will make you laugh and maybe even cry at some points. It is a great way to remember a war that is quickly being forgotten by younger generations. There were many that gave their lives in this war and this is an amazing way to remember and honor them.”

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