Over There: Greatest Hits of the Great War offers a range of emotions with WWI songs

 
 
Soprano Brett Kroeger
Soprano Brett Kroeger
 
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GREENWICH, Conn. - Dec. 4, 2014 - PRLog -- Yvonne M. McCormack

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Over There: Greatest Hits of the Great War offers a range of emotions with WWI songs

December 4, 2014 Greenwich, CT – “Sparkling” is how Operametro.com described Brett Kroeger on stage, noting the way her “lovely voice shines in the upper range.” It’s a style well suited to the pop songs of the World War I era, featured in “Over There: Greatest Hits of the Great War,” an hour–long cabaret-style commemoration of the war’s 100th anniversary in Greenwich Saturday, Dec. 13, for one night only.

The Greenwich Arts Council, 299 Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, is the venue, starting at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Since the June centenary of the “shot heard round the world,” the soprano has been researching the songs that topped the charts in the war years. With the skillful collaboration of Broadway pianist/arranger Christopher Denny, they’ve selected from the best of some 38,000 tunes copyrighted between the years 1914 and 1918.

The songs have been grouped into clusters to evoke the moods of war: those meant to rally the troops or express yearning, to keep the home fires burning or to amuse soldiers as they wiled away days in the trenches. (Actually, many of the trench songs had to be omitted for language way too salty for the stage.) The team has also included songs composed to ease the monotony of long marches as well as those that welcomed the troops home at war’s end.

Here are a few fun factoids from “Over There’s” program notes, Twitter and Facebook page, along with links to original recordings:

Yale gave its grand poetry prize in 1918 to the two recent alumni who as students in their dorm room composed, “Three’s a Long Long Trail.” It was the first time Yale presented the coveted poetry award for a popular song.

“I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” described in the press of 1918 as “a blue song of a new kind,” was first introduced on Broadway in “Oh, Look.” The Dolly Sisters sang it in the show but their co-star, Harry Fox, for whom the Fox Trot was named, recorded it. It was adapted from Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromtu in C# minor.

“After You’ve Gone,” by African-American songsters Henry Creamer and Turner Layton was a huge World War I hit, reaching No. 2 in 1918 and No. 1 in 1919. Who recorded it? Marion Harris, a popular white singer, who was early to blues and known for her crossover performances.

George M. Cohan’s 1917 “Over There” was the “plumpest plum” of all. By the end of 1918, it had sold two million copies in sheet music and another million in records.

And this song didn’t make the show, but has too good a title not to share: Mitchell and Gottler’s 1918 “Would You Rather Be a Colonel With an Eagle on Your Shoulder, or a Private with a Chicken on Your Knee?”

Tickets are available through Eventbrite. More posts and links from Brett Kroeger’s research on Facebook and Twitter at @OverThereWWI.

Over There: Greatest Hits of the Great War

Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

Greenwich Arts Council, 299 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich CT

Website: http://brettkroeger.com

Brett Kroeger bio: http://brettkroeger.com/biography

Christopher Denny bio: http://brettkroeger.com/christopher-denny

Eventbrite: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/over-there-greatest-hits-of-the-great-war-tickets-13550498907?aff=eac2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OverThereGreatestHitsoftheGreatWar

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OverThereWWI

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Yvonne McCormack
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