Exhibits of period recordings, instruments, compositions, scrapbooks and other materials from 1915 at the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.

Many Voices: The Great War in America’s Songs, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 27, 2014 – September 25, 2015.

When World War I began in 1914 the United States proclaimed that it would follow a policy of strict neutrality “in thought and deed,” and President Wilson firmly believed that peace was the only course of action needed to resolve the European conflict.  Many Americans felt the same way, but as the war’s atrocities, both fictional and real, were publicized, some politicians and military leaders began to voice their support for military intervention.  After the United States declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917 the country witnessed a dramatic mobilization of industry and financial resources to produce trained soldiers, food, munitions, and equipment which were in short supply at the start of America’s involvement.  The federal government set up hundreds of temporary agencies with over a million new employees to help redirect the nation’s economy.  America’s sheet music industry joined forces with the U.S. Committee on Public Information to help sell the ideals of patriotism, sacrifice, and volunteerism to the American public as the only way to win this war.  This special exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History depicts the diverse portrayals of soldiers’ lives, recruitment of African-American soldiers, women’s support for the war effort, and the country’s financial and personal sacrifice through the melodies, lyrics and graphic illustrations of sheet music that were produced between 1917 and 1919.

Professor Harding and the Illinois Bands During WWI, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 8, 2014 – August 3, 2015.

As war enveloped much of Western Europe in 1914 and 1915 our country struggled to justify its involvement in this conflict and our national leaders overwhelmingly favored peaceful negotiation as the only logical way to end Europe’s war.  However by 1916 Germany’s military had devastated large portions of Belgium and France, and presented a serious threat to Great Britain as well as commercial shipping across the north Atlantic.  While fear of a German invasion spawned discussions on the possible need to close the University of Illinois or at least discontinue courses that did not provide relevant training to support a military build-up if needed, the University’s band program under the direction of A. Austin Harding continued to provide the campus and the local community with musical artistry, patriotic fervor, and moral support during the darkest days of WWI.  This exhibit investigates the challenges that Harding faced as many of his band’s members enlisted in the army and navy in 1917 after America entered the war, and highlights the role that Harding and his bands played to support that nation’s war effort.

Pogo Studio: Capturing the Sounds of the Champaign-Urbana Music Scene 1980-2001, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, August 29, 2014 – June 24, 2016.

Pogo Studio was established in downtown Champaign, IL, in 1985 and quickly earned local, regional and national recognition for its finely crafted recordings and its owner’s easy-going nature.  The studio remained a fixture of the community’s music scene and a valuable resource for regional recording artists for nearly thirty years.  During the early 1980s its founder, Mark Rubel, developed his audio engineering and production expertise while working at the University of Illinois’ Experimental Music Studios and the Faithful Sound recording studio which was located in Urbana, IL.  As an active performing bass guitarist, an employee of the talent agency, Blytham Ltd., and project chair for the Champaign County Arts Council, Rubel developed a robust professional relationship with a variety of musicians and bands throughout central Illinois.  As a result Pogo Studio recorded and produced over one thousand different projects with such musicians as Adrian Belew and Alison Krauss; rock bands Hum, Menthol, Starcastle and the Vertebrats;  community music groups like Amasong; and a variety of performances by student ensembles and faculty from the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University and Parkland Community College.   This exhibition showcases the unique music legacy of Mark Rubel and Pogo Studio through photographs, oral histories, and sound recordings.

World War I with America’s March King, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 21, 2014 – May 6, 2015.

John Philip Sousa and his band joined Charles Dillingham’s extravagant Broadway-style revue, Hip! Hip! Hooray!, for its opening in New York’s Hippodrome on September 30, 1915 and performed two concerts, with the exception of Sundays, daily until June 3, 1916.   Dillingham’s spectacular included an elephant show, high wire acts, theatrical ice skating, flower ladders, and comedic and vaudeville routines.  After the Sousa Band completed its three-week performance engagement at Willow Grove, it rejoined Dillingham’s production on October 14, 1916 for a six-week national tour that lasted until March 18, 1917.  Two weeks later the United States declared war on Germany and twenty-seven members of the Sousa Band joined the Armed Forces and Sousa temporarily disbanded his civilian ensemble. The March King, at the age of sixty-two, also wished to serve his country, and Captain William A. Moffett, commandant of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center outside of Chicago, commissioned Sousa as a lieutenant to organize and train military bands there. This exhibition explores Sousa’s musical contributions to America’s war effort and how this music reflected his acknowledgment of the sacrifices that were made by all Americans who fought in this military conflict.