Connecticut Community Conversations:
Letter from Italy, 1944 – A Generational Legacy
The Greater Middletown Chorale invites the public to a series of events in February through April that will precede the April 28th premiere of a new musical drama, Letter from Italy, 1944. The series, Connecticut Community Conversations, Letter from Italy, 1944 – A Generational Legacy, will focus on the background of the new work about soldiers and PTSD in preparation for its unveiling by the 80-voice community choral group.
This newly composed music relates the story of a World War II, 10th Mountain Division soldier, Dr. John K. Meneely, Jr., who served as a medic in the Aleutians and Italy. At the end of the war, suffering from PTSD, he returned home to his young family. For the next 18 years he and his family struggled with his internal battles. Now their collective story is being told and their triumphs are being sung.
The soldier’s daughters, Grammy-nominee composer Sarah Meneely-Kyder and poet Nancy Meneely, both Connecticut residents, have woven their physician father’s letters and their family’s story into a poignant saga of courage and compassion. Meneely-Kyder has set her sister’s ringing lyrics to music in this new composition. The Greater Middletown Chorale is producing the world premiere of Letter from Italy, 1944 under the direction of Joseph D’Eugenio at Middletown High School’s new Performing Arts Center.
To prepare both audiences and singers for the April concert, the Chorale created the background series that is open to the public and free of charge. The series is supported by the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Connecticut Humanities, the Tenth Mountain Division, Middlesex Hospital, Middlesex Community College and the Inn at Middletown. The opening event, a talk about PTSD and the history of military medicine by Dr. John Warner of the Yale Medical School faculty, took place in December at Middlesex Hospital.
Scheduled 2013 Events in the Connecticut Community Conversation Series include:
- February 8, 2013: “The Last Ridge: the Epic Story of America’s Mountain Troops and their Assault on Hitler’s Europe.” Illustrated lecture and discussion by author and University of Delaware Professor of English and Journalism, McKay Jenkins. Chapman Hall, Middlesex Community College, 100 Training Hill Road. 7 PM.
- February 28, 2013: Letter from Italy, 1944 – the Creative Process – a discussion with Oddfellows Playhouse Teen Repertory Company and the Artistic Team of Letter from Italy, 1944 including Joseph D’Eugenio, Sheila Garvey and Nancy Meneely. Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington St.. 7 PM
- Sunday, March 10, 2013: Poetry Reading – Nancy Meneely will read from her newly published book, Letter from Italy, 1944 (Antrim House, Simsbury, Connecticut). Discussion will follow. Hubbard Room, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street 2 PM
- Friday, March 22, 2013: MILE (Middletown Institute for Lifelong Education) Presentation – Nancy Meneely, Poet and Sarah Meneely-Kyder, Composer, creators of Letter from Italy, 1944. Pre-registration required, see www.mileonline.org. Chapman Hall, Middlesex Community College, Training Hill Road 10 A.M
- April –May, 2013: Exhibition – Letter from Italy, 1944: Primary Sources, featuring Dr. Meneely’s letters, photos, objects; Nancy Meneely’s poetry drafts, published book and lyrics; Sarah Meneely-Kyder’s music from drafts to finished scores. Russell Library, 123 Broad Street - Regular library hours
The Greater Middletown Chorale, under the direction of Joseph D’Eugenio, is the region’s premier choral group uniquely given over to classical and contemporary music. It has received grants for the Letter from Italy Project from the New England Foundation’s Meet the Composer Program; Choral Arts New England’s Alfred Nash Patterson Award; Connecticut Humanities, Connecticut DECD’s Office of the Arts; Middletown Commission on the Arts; Community Foundation of Middlesex County; and the Tenth Mountain Division Foundation.
For more information about the Greater Middletown Chorale’s Letter from Italy Project, go to letterfromitaly.com and www.gmchorale.org.