Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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War of 1812 inspires UMW Philharmonic to plan special concert

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Historians and Heritage Foundation scholar Ronald Utt, who wrote the Viewpoints-section centerpiece in Sunday’s Free Lance-Star, aren’t the only people who want you to remember what has been called the “forgotten war.”

The University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra is cooking up a razzle-dazzle, red white and blue program to commemorate America’s second war of independence.

I mean the War of 1812, the international conflict that seems to take second fiddle to the Civil War and the American Revolution–to say nothing of more recent U.S. wars–in most people’s minds.

Yet it was an al-out fight than spanned our early nation, from the Canadian border, through the Chesapeake Bay region to the Gulf of Mexico–and at sea. Some 70,000 Virginians served during the war, fighting here and in Maryland, Ohio and snaval engagements.

This year, America marks the bicentennial of this power struggle between Great Britain and the infant United States, which might have met an early grave had it gone the other way.

When it reached the gates of Baltimore, igniting an intense ship-to-shore battle at Fort McHenry, the titanic clash inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the verse that became “The Star Spangled Banner.”

That fact and that history have stirred the creative juices of Kevin P. Bartram, director of the UMW Philharmonic, which plans a special program of classical works on Saturday, March 17, to commemorate the bicentennial.

“To Anacreon in Heaven,” a British drinking song that Utt mentions in his Viewpoints piece, will be part of the repertoire. It provided the melody for the U.S. national anthem.

“We had to commission a special arrangement of ‘Anachreon’ to match the 18th century version, as the sheet music was not available,” Bartram said. “You’ll hear the true original.”

The program will also include Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and the evolving tunes that led to “The Star Spangled Banner.” (Beethoven’s No. 7 was featured in the hit 2010 film, “The King’s Speech.”) The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium.

Concert tickets can be purchased online at or at the concert hall. Tickets are $10, and are available at a discount for UMW employees and students. Details? Call 540/654-1012.

For more about the state commission that is organizing War of 1812 events, visit Or see its Facebook page at

At a later date in this space and in the Weekender section of The Free Lance-Star, you’ll be able to read more about the UMW Philharmonic program and how it came about.