Concert celebrates Indiana’s history, legacy

by Erik Cliburn | Editorial Assistant
Published: Last Updated on

The Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center hosted “Celebrating the History of Indiana Through Music” on Monday, Feb. 15 which celebrated the 200 years of Indiana statehood. History and Political Science Professor Ted Frantz served as the historian for the concert, lecturing on the musical history of Indiana before each song.

Professor of Music Rebecca Sorley organized the event and played the piano for all 16 tunes performed during the evening.

“I thought about it [the Celebrating Indiana concert] about five years ago when I knew that 2016 would be the bicentennial of Indiana,” Sorley said. “There was an interdisciplinary grant that was available to us, so I thought we should combine with somebody who really knows a lot about history, because Dr. Frantz specializes in [the] history of the Midwest. I have learned a lot from talking to him.”

Professor of Music Rebecca Sorley performs during the “Celebrating the History of Indiana Through Music,” which celebrated 200 years of Indiana statehood.

Professor of Music Rebecca Sorley performs during the “Celebrating the History of Indiana Through Music,” which celebrated 200 years of Indiana statehood. Photo by Badar Alageel

The concert began with a lecture from Frantz about the first four musicians listed in the program: Julia Niebergall, May Aufderheide, and Albert and Harry Von Tilzer. He discussed the artists’ German immigrant background and how they wrote music that tapped into the popular culture of the time.

The first two songs of the evening were “Hoosier Rag” by Neibergall and “The Richmond Rag” by Aufderheide. Sorley said that women musicians had a very large role in ragtime music, and she wanted to showcase that.

Sorley then played “Tingle Tangle,” by Harry Von Tilzer; “Spoontime,” by Albert Von Tilzer; and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” also by Albert Von Tilzer (words by Jack Norworth).  During Sorley’s performance of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” she asked that audience to stand up and sing the words to this American classic while she played the tune.

The next performance of the night was different from the others in the concert. The performance was a musical monologue, with music from Frederic Krull set behind Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley’s “An Old Sweetheart of Mine.”

Narrator Nathaniel Hein, a graduate of both the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and the Cleveland Institute of Music, read the poem as Sorley played piano behind him.

The next three songs Sorley played with her daughter Allegra Sorley, a graduate and master of piano performance at Ohio University. The duo played “Stardust” (arranged by Michael Kocour) and “Georgia on My Mind,” both by Hoagy Carmichael, as well as “Night and Day” and a medley of  “Easy to Love” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” both by Cole Porter.

Sorley then played four songs by musician Ned Rorem: “Serenade for Two Paws,” “Golden Notes on Nearing Fifty,” “Snapshot of Jack” and “For a Perfect Sister.” The “Jazz Dance Suite,” by David Baker followed that.

Allegra Sorley then came back on stage to perform with her mother a piece that she had arranged titled “Indiana Medley.”  The arrangement included parts of five songs, including several college fight songs: “Indiana,” by James Hanley; “Indiana, Our Indiana,” by Karl King; “Butler War Song,” by John Heiney; “Victory March” (Notre Dame), by Rev. Michael Shea and the “University of Indianapolis Fight Song,” by James Stanton.

Junior music education major Giauna Neville enjoyed both the concert as a whole and the piece arranged by Allegra Sorley.

“I really enjoyed the last piece that Allegra Sorley arranged,” Neville said. “It kind of put all of Indiana’s music history into perspective, with jazz, college fight songs and tunes that we, as Hoosiers, are familiar with hearing.”

Neville also enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Indiana’s history while listening to accompanying music.

“We, as music majors, are so focused on learning about things as they are, but we never really synthesize them together,” Neville said. “So it was cool to hear what was going on in history as well as what was going on musically. I knew Indiana had great jazz roots, but I didn’t know that a lot of the jazz roots with ragtime had not only influences from New Orleans at the time, but European music as well.”

The next concert in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall will be the Paula Dione Ingram Concert, which will take place tomorrow at 7-8:30 p.m.

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