To honor National Vietnam War Veterans Day, the Department of Music at Shepherd University is partnering with the United States Veterans Art Program (USVAP) to host a series of events exploring a unique experience of the Vietnam War and the creation of art for personal expression. These events will culminate in a signature concert experience. On Tuesday, March 27, pianist Leon Bates will perform A Soldiers Trilogy – In Four Parts at the Frank Center at Shepherdstown West Virginia by composer James-Kimo Williams. This concert will continue the mission of USVAP to bring visibility to the military veteran through art and keep their participation in the fabric of this society in the forefront. Composer Kimo Williams will provide program notes and an interactive discussion before each piece of the four piano sontatas, speaking to the composer’s tour of duty in 1970 and how music helped him to express those experiences by connecting his work to his Vietnam experience and being black in America.
Doors to the Frank Center Theater will open at 7:00pm. Patrons will be guided to a gallery exhibition of works of veteran artists. The concert will begin at 8:00pm followed by a dessert reception where patrons can meet the artist and composer.
Frank Center Theater • $15 general admission • $10 Shepherd faculty, staff and alumni, senior citizens, and ages 18 & under • Free active military, veterans, and Shepherd students.
A symposium took place on Friday, March 23, from 5-7:30 p.m. in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall Auditorium. The symposium, explored the broad experiences of veterans, how some may have used art as a means for personal expression, and how the integration of veterans in the arts community can alter the stereotype that in order to participate in the fabric of citizenship, veterans are always in need of healing, a handout, or subsistence.
Williams moderated the symposium. Panelists included Dr. Ann Wendle, Shepherd dean of students and a veteran; student veteran Jerry Auville, a psychology major from Petersburg; student veteran James Joyner, a psychology major from Frederick, Maryland; Jim Walker, a local music supporter and retired military officer; and John P. Foley, Ph.D., mental health service IE program officer, Research and Development Program at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center.
An exhibit of veterans’ art curated by Shepherd University students is on display in the Frank Center gallery through March 30, including 10 pieces created by veterans at the Martinsburg VA Center. Dr. Rob Tudor, Chair of Shepherd’s Department of Music, said all three events are meant to draw attention to the experiences of military veterans in a more personal way.
“It’s one thing to put art in front of students and say ‘this is art and these are the elements of the art,’” Tudor said. “When someone says ‘this is the story of the artist and this is the story behind the work,’ you can connect on a deeper level, on a soulful level, and understand the motivation behind it. That’s one of the most valuable things about this.”