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Drexel Students, Faculty Produce Civil War CD

Written by the Staff of ASK

April 11, 2011 — Civil War CD - Front Students and faculty in the Department of History and Politics collaborated with Westphal’s music and music industry programs to produce a 2-disc music CD to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The Civil War's musical legacy is so powerful that most Americans still recognize many of its songs today. The project was a perfect opportunity to harness the particular talents and assets of the University to contribute to the larger anniversary efforts across the city, state and nation—and to do so in Drexel’s distinctive experiential fashion.

The history program produced a 16-page CD insert, which discusses the history of the Civil War in Philadelphia within the context of the 14 songs. Hannah Bennett, senior history and political science major, began work on the project in the summer of 2010 when she was a CoAS Humanities Fellow under the mentorship of Kathryn Steen, associate professor of history. Bennett researched the history using archival records from historical institutions in Philadelphia and by employing some of the technological tools available to historians. She also wrote some of the content for the insert.

Civil War CD BackThe CD comprises 14 songs, including well-known tunes like the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the“Star Spangled Banner,” as well as more obscure songs with ties to Philadelphia, whether through the subject matter, composer, or publisher. Disc one of the set features students from the music program performing all 14 songs as they might have sounded in the 1860s. On disc two, the music industry students interpreted and performed the songs in their own unique style.

Over 50 people worked together to produce the CD. Faculty from Westphal, particularly Jim Klein, director of the music industry program, helped to recruit and coach the student performers.

The entire Drexel community is invited to the CD release party on Monday, April 25, from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, 3401 Filbert. The event will feature a reception and live performances.

The CD can be purchased at the Drexel University bookstore. For more information about the CD, or to discuss a Civil War project or event you’d like to host, please contact Kathryn Steen at steen@drexel.edu.

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