March 11


 10:30 am-12:00 pm: Coffee with Kronos: Tryon Festival Theatre, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts: Free and open to the public

A conversation with the Kronos Quartet about Beyond Zero: 1914-1918.                          Moderated by Donna Buchanan  (Chair of Musicology and Associate Professor of Musicology and Anthropology, University of Illinois)


2:30-4:15pm: Transatlantic Media and Performance, 1915 (Krannert Art Museum Auditorium Rm. 62): Free and open to the public

Session Chair: Jeffrey Magee, Professor of Musicology and Director of the School of Music, University of Illinois

: “Women at the Pedals: Female Cinema Musicians during the Great War” (Kendra Preston Leonard, Independent Scholar in Musicology and Media Studies, Houston)

“Profitable Patriotism: John Philip Sousa and the Great War” (Patrick Warfield, Associate Professor of Musicology, University of Maryland)

“ ‘She’s a dear old Lady’: English-Canadian Popular Songs from World War I” (Gayle Sherwood Magee, Associate Professor of Musicology, University of Illinois)


4:30-5:00pm: The Dumbells (Krannert Art Museum Auditorium, Room 62): Free and open to the public 

The seeds of irreverent humor that inspired the likes of Wayne and Shuster and Monty Python were sown in the trenches of the First World War, and The Dumbells—concert parties made up of fighting soldiers—were central to this process. Lucky soldiers who could sing a song, perform a skit, or pass as a “lady,” were taken from the line and put onstage for the benefit of their soldier-audiences. The intent was to bolster morale and thereby help soldiers survive the war. The Dumbells’ popularity was not limited to troop shows along the trenches. The group also managed a run in London’s West End and became the first ever Canadian production to score a hit on Broadway. Touring Canada for some twelve years after the war, the Dumbells became a household name and made more than twenty-five audio recordings. If nationhood was won on the crest of Vimy Ridge, it was the Dumbells who provided the country with its earliest soundtrack. Pioneers of sketch comedy, the Dumbells are as important to the history of Canadian theatre as they are to the cultural history of early-twentieth-century Canada.

In this half-hour recreation of the Dumbell’s music and comedy, Jason Wilson and his troupe provide a glimpse into the world of Canadian soldiers abroad. Wilson is an award-winning Canadian author and musician. He is a two-time Juno Award nominee and recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Guelph. His book about the Dumbells is entitled Soldiers of Song. For more on the group, click here.


7:30-10:00 pm: A Night at the Cinema, 1915 (Krannert Art Museum Auditorium, Room 62): Free and open to the public

Featuring American, British and French silent films from 1915 with live piano accompaniment by silent film pianist Ethan Uslan.

To show the changes in silent film through WWI, the program starts with a typical Keystone Cops comedy from right before the war; then we have a horror film from 1915-16; we end with Chaplin’s bittersweet take on the war from 1918. For further information, click here.