Composer Richard Bales' two Civil War cantatas, "The Union" and "The Confederacy," will be presented by the Northern Utah Choral Society and Utah State University music department Saturday, May 25, at 8 p.m. in Symphony Hall.
Taking part, under the direction of Will Kesling, will be the Northern Utah Choral Society, the USU Chorale and the Treasure Valley Chorale. The Cache Children's Choir and the Treasure Valley Children's Choir will also perform.Vocal soloists will be soprano Linda Mugleston and tenor Michael Ballam, with narration by Michael Jesse Bennett. According to Kesling, Bales will attend the Salt Lake performance as well as offer advice at rehearsals.
Bales completed "The Confederacy" in 1953 to celebrate his 10th anniversary as conductor of the National Gallery of Art Orchestra in Washington, D.C. It was first presented that year at the gallery's 10th American Music Festival.
"The Union" was written in 1956 as a companion cantata and was likewise premiered at the National Gallery. The score is dedicated to the composer's grandfather, Capt. Henri Ahijah Bales, a Union soldier wounded in 1884 and cared for by a Confederate family. Both were recorded by Columbia Masterworks.
Kesling has headed the choral music program at USU since 1983. He began preparing "The Union" and "The Confederacy" more than a year ago in response to the interest aroused by the PBS television series "The Civil War."
"I like the historical significance of the music," he said. "These are songs and melodies sung by both sides in the war. Some of the music is familiar while other selections are not commonly known. I wanted to do a project that was purely American and patriotic."
A student at USU, Mugleston has appeared in USU theater productions, was a Concerto Concert winner and a finalist in the Utah District Metropolitan Opera Auditions. Ballam has appeared with the opera companies of Chicago, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington, among others. Since 1987 he has headed the opera theater program at USU. Bennett, a professional actor, has appeared in more than 50 films, including the ABC Sunday Night movie "Blind Witness," and been a featured performer at the Utah Shakespearean Festival.
Tickets, priced from $5 to $12.50, are available at the Salt Palace, all Smith'sTix outlets and at Symphony Hall the night of the performance. For reservations call 1-800-888-SHOW.