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Free Event: The Civil War in Words and Music

Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 6:30 - 8:30pm

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Band of the 8th New York State Militia. Arlington, VA, June 1861. Photo courtesy the Library of Congress Judy Collins.  Photo by James Vesey
Band of the 8th New York State Militia. Arlington, VA, June 1861. Photo courtesy the Library of Congress

Words and music of the Civil War era will fill The Cooper Union’s Great Hall, site of Lincoln’s 1860 “Right Makes Might” speech, in a celebration of the birthday of our 16th president starring Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Judy Collins and featuring Tony Award-nominated and film actor Stephen Lang (Avatar, The Speed of Darkness, Gettysburg, Gods and Generals), Tony and Obie Award-winning actor/singer André De Shields (The Wiz, The Full Monty), pop folk singer/songwriter Dar Williams, members of The Classical Theater Of Harlem and nationally renowned Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer.

Stephen Lang

Collins will perform popular songs of the era, including some of Lincoln’s favorites: "Beautiful Dreamer," "Johnny I Hardly Knew You" and "The Last Rose of Summer," as well as composer Aaron Copland’s "Lincoln Portrait," featuring excerpts from Lincoln’s great documents including the Gettysburg Address. Williams will sing, as well.

Lang (at right) and De Shields return to The Great Hall to reprise their roles as Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, respectively, and engage in a riveting dialogue constructed from historical documents, personal letters and speeches. 

Holzer, chairman of the national Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and a consultant on Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film, Lincoln, compiled the dialogue and will serve as master of ceremonies.

This free performance, the 2013 John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture, was made possible with the support of The Iselin Fund for The Great Hall and the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.

Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.