“Voices of the Vietnam War: Music and Memories” will be performed by the UConn Earthtones Vocal Ensemble on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. in Louis J. von der Mehden Recital Hall, 875 Coventry Road, in Storrs.
Earthtones is comprised of university students and community members in a Department of Music class who bring to life the songs of specific cultures as a means to gain knowledge and understanding of communities, culture, spirituality and social justice. This semester, the class has focused on the mid-1960s to early 1970s period of the Vietnam War.
The Dec. 2 performance will include songs from the period marking the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Tet Offensive, one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam conflict, as well as narratives by Vietnam veterans. Veterans from chose several of the songs to be performed that were originally recorded by artists including The Animals, Country Joe & the Fish, Barry McGuire, Peter, Paul, and Mary, The Rolling Stones and more.
“Music is a unique way to teach students about this complicated period in American history. By singing the songs that were meaningful to those who served, we strive to tell their stories, to acknowledge their efforts and to show some long-overdue appreciation and respect,” says Mary Ellen Junda, a professor of music who directs Earthtones.
The Vietnam veterans included during the program will be readings from letters from James Jordan, author of “Over and Out” and Kjell Tollefsen, who served during the Tet Offensive. Sgt. Ron Farina and Robert Stephens, professor of world music, shared stories of their service during the Vietnam War with the class and Alyssa Kelleher, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs and Eileen Hurst, director, Veterans History Project, provided guidance on the program development.
The program is sponsored by the UConn Department of Music and the Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Program and is open to the public free of charge. Parking is conveniently available next to concert hall. A reception follows the program.