Great Western Illinois Sanitary Fair

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Date(s) - 10/12/2014
1:00 pm

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Concert to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the
Great Western Illinois Sanitary Fair

On Sunday, October 12th, 2014 the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County will present the second concert in their Civil War series, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Illinois Sanitary Fair concerts which took place on October 12th and 13th, 1864. The concert will take place at Lippincott Hall on the campus of the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors Home (now the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy); starting at 1pm and everyone is welcome to the event which is free of charge. Period dress is welcome but optional.

The concert will re-unite the period brass and wind band which performed last year, and this year the guest conductor will be Pam Potter, director emeritus of the Quincy Park Band. The band will begin the concert with popular marches and ballads of the period, including the sentimental �Tenting on the Old Camp Ground� written by Walter Kittredge in 1863, �Tramp, Tramp, Tramp� written by George F. Root in 1863 and describing the plight of Union POW�s, �When Johnny Comes March Home,� and �Soldier�s Joy,� originally a fiddle reel, adapted for band.

This year�s concert will also feature selections from the original concert programming of 1864, including �Abschiedslied dur Zugvogel� the Passage Bird, a slow and haunting Felix Mendelssohn lied in minor key for soprano and alto with harmonization in thirds, and �Suleika und Hatem� a soprano-tenor duet by Mendelssohn�s sister Fanny. Known primarily as a pianist, Fanny was also an outstanding composer, and this evocative ballad was published in a collection of her brother�s songs. Other selections from the fair, orchestrated by Randall Snyder for period wind band, include the familiar ballad �Annie Laurie,� and the dramatic �Life Has No Power� from the opera �Belasario� by Donizetti. Four popular songs of the civil war era published in the 1876 �GAR Song Book� will be performed by male tenor soloist and male quartet, and include the popular �All Quiet on the Potomac� which was sung by both Union and Confederate soldiers, with different lyrics, the poignant �Just Before the Battle Mother,� �Today This Hallowed Place We Seek,� and the humorous �Grafted Into the Army� composed by Quincyian, Henry Clay work.

Organized as fund raisers throughout the war in support of the Western Sanitary Commission, Sanitary Fairs were often multi-day affairs, featuring typical open air street fairs booths and events. The U.S. Sanitary Commission was a private relief agency, supplying aid to army field hospitals, camps and hospital ships, the commission also organized and ran soldiers� homes and rests for traveling and wounded soldiers. One of the first fairs, held over in Chicago at the end of October 1863 raised nearly $100,000 for this effort.

In Quincy the Western Illinois Sanitary Fair featured, in addition to the two �Grand Concerts� held at the Unitarian Church on the evenings of October 11th and 12th,� a �Worsted Wool Department,� an exhibit of prize winning livestock to be sold at the end of the fair, a �Freedmen�s Department� which presented a �Curiosity Shop� and a �Gallery of Fine Arts,� a �Yankee Kitchen� serving traditional foods, and the re-enactment of a traditional �Yankee wedding� at Pinkham Hall. In its three days of operation, the fair raised over $7,000 for the war effort.

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