For the Daily News
In conjunction with its focus this fall on books about World War II in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the war’s end, Starkville Reads will present “The Music of World War II” on Veterans’ Day, Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Starkville High School Auditorium.
The program will feature Dr. Guy Hargrove, tenor, who will also serve as the Master of Ceremonies as well as the Starkville High School Jazz Ensemble and the Starkville High School Girls’ Ensemble singing in the style of the Andrews Sisters.
Hargrove will sing some of the love songs which captured the longing felt by soldiers separated from their loved ones, such as “I’ll be Seeing You” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
As the emcee, he will also give interesting pieces of information about the war years. For example, movies as well as songs had war themes, and rationing became more and more prevalent as the war continued. Shoes were rationed at three pairs a year and there were restrictions on sugar, butter, and canned goods, among others.
Hargrove is a retired MSU faculty member who taught in the Music Education department for 25 years, concertized throughout the United States and Europe, and served as the conductor and music director of the MSU-Starkville Symphony for 17 years. He continues to give concerts and to sing in various programs, most recently at MSU in February, in London in July at the T.S. Eliot International Summer School, in St. Louis in September at the T.S. Eliot Society Conference, and in October at Starkville High School.
The SHS Girls’ Ensemble, re-named for this performance only The Andrews Sisters Plus Seven, will perform three songs made popular by the Andrews Sisters: the lively, toe-tapping “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” about a famous trumpeter who was drafted and now plays for “his Uncle Sam” in Company B as well as “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else but Me” about a young soldier who begs his girlfriend to remain faithful to him while he’s away in the war and “Three Little Fishies,” a whimsical song about baby fish wanting to go out on their own. Gina Weeks is the Director of the SHS Girls’ Ensemble.
The Starkville High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Doug Thomas, will play a group of well-known instrumental pieces that will include “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing,” “The Blues Walk,” and “American Patrol.” The early 40s were the era of Big Band and Swing music with such band leaders as Major Glenn Miller, a famous big band leader and director of the U.S. Air Force band who was lost on a flight over the English Channel in 1944, and such musicians and composers as Duke Ellington.
The program will close with the entire cast performing “God Bless America,” with the audience joining in. Written by Irving Berlin in 1918, the song was revived by Kate Smith in 1938 and was a major patriotic song during the war years.
According to Nancy Hargrove, President of Starkville Reads, this program will be inspirational educational, and entertaining and will showcase the musical talents of some of our outstanding high school students as well as of a professional singer well-known in the community as they perform some of the most memorable musical pieces of the World War II era.
The program is free of charge and open to all. Veterans of World War II are especially encouraged to attend and will be asked to stand so that their service can be gratefully acknowledged at the beginning of the program.
Starkville Reads will present two additional programs on World War II in November. On Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Starkville Public Library, Dr. Kathryn Barbier will discuss D-Day and Jeff Shaara’s novel about it entitled The Steel Wave. In collaboration with the Starkville Community Theatre, on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Starkville Community Theatre, Dr. Clyde Williams will introduce and then show “Prelude to War,” the first part of the documentary “Why We Fight,” directed by Frank Capra and shown to all World War II soldiers.
This segment will conclude the programs on World War II books, which were presented in conjunction with the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum and began in August with a discussion of Tom Brokaw’s best seller The Greatest Generation led by Dr. Robert Wolverton. Starkville Reads provided copies of these books as well as the Young Adult version of James Bradley’s Flags of our Fathers to the Starkville Public Library and other local venues.
Starkville Reads, a nonprofit, all-volunteer group whose purpose is to promote books and reading, is grateful to the Starkville Rotary Club, the Starkville Area Arts Council, and the City of Starkville for grants in support of the purchase of donated books and of these and other recent programs as well as to Copy Cow and to numerous individuals who have made generous contributions.
See the Starkville Reads website for a list of all contributors this year as well as additional information on our current programs. Those wishing to make contributions may mail tax-deductible checks to Starkville Reads, P.O. Box 80100, Starkville, MS 39759.