On a Wednesday in May
Performance by the West Point Woodwind Quintet
Composer's Voice Concert Series, Jan Hus Church, New York City
April 29, 2012
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On a Wednesday in May is based on two postbellum songs: "Jeff in Petticoats" and "O I'm a Good Old Rebel." Witnesses to the capture of Jefferson Davis, on May 10, 1865 (a Wednesday) reported that he was found wearing his wife's coat and shawl. The satirical song "Jeff in Petticoats" uses this anecdote to pan Davis as a coward. Meanwhile, the song "O I'm a Good Old Rebel" bitterly curses the Union and all that it stands for, including the Constitution and the Freedmen's Bureau (an organization established by Congress in March 1865, which provided assistance to liberated slaves). The two diametrically-opposed moods of lightness and jubilation on the one hand and seething resentment on the other are irreconcilably juxtaposed in this piece.