|2009 Festivals : Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Choral Festival|
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A Special Choral Salute Marking the
Bicentennial of America’s Greatest President
The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Concert Choir
The McLean Youth Orchestra
President’s Day Weekend, February 14 – 17, 2009
Music Celebrations is pleased to present the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Choral Festival, a Choral Festival in our Nation’s capital that honors “America’s Greatest President.” The setting for this milestone commemoration will be in the Concert Hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This unique choral event, which will feature a 400+ voice Festival Chorus, will be under the Artistic Direction of Dr. Gary Schwartzhoff, Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.
Not merely an event for Washington, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Choral Festival is an event for the entire country - a major opportunity to draw the attention of Americans to the impact this great man has made not only in our country, but around the world.
As President, Abraham Lincoln built the newly-formed Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.
Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion.
The spirit that guided him was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds...."
On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln's death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.