Civil War Cantata
A Community Engagement Project

What is the Civil War Cantata Project?

Artistic Director of the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers, Matthew Koller, has transcribed handwritten journal entries from his Great-Great-Grandfather, a Union soldier in the Civil War. The Mastersingers have commissioned contemporary composer Thomas LaVoy to compose a Civil War Cantata based on the stories within the journals.

Most major choral works are sacred masses, requiems, oratorios and cantatas. With these journals we have the opportunity to create something unique, sharing untold stories and experiences in history. Bringing a choral and orchestral work of this form to our area will increase social awareness, connecting communities through music and dialogue.

A Unique Community Engagement Project

The Mastersingers is proud to partner with the Dunbar community and the Lee County Black History Society on the Civil War Cantata. These collaborations aim to celebrate and uplift the rich cultural heritage and history of our region. Through joint events, educational programs, and performances, we seek to foster a deeper connection with the Dunbar community and highlight the significant contributions of African American history in Lee County. Together, we are committed to creating a vibrant, inclusive environment where the arts can flourish and resonate with all members of our community.

About the Dunbar Community

The Dunbar community in Fort Myers, Florida, is a historically significant and culturally rich neighborhood known for its deep-rooted African American heritage. Originating as a segregated community, Dunbar has evolved into a vibrant area characterized by its strong sense of identity and community pride. It features a blend of residential, commercial, and educational facilities, including the notable Dunbar High School. The neighborhood is also home to numerous cultural and historical landmarks that celebrate its legacy and ongoing contributions to the broader Fort Myers region.

About the Lee Co. Black History Society

The Lee County Black History Society is dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage and history of African Americans in Lee County. Through engaging exhibits, educational programs, and community events, the Society brings to light the significant contributions and achievements of Black individuals and communities in our region. By fostering an appreciation for this vital history, the Society aims to inspire and educate future generations, ensuring that the legacy of African American culture continues to thrive in Lee County.

About Composer

Thomas LaVoy

Thomas LaVoy is an award-winning composer who specializes in composing for the human voice. His music is strongly influenced by his broad performance career as a singer and instrumentalist. He received his undergraduate degree from Westminster Choir College and his PhD from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. LaVoy’s choral works have been commissioned and performed by choirs across the US and the UK as well as in Europe and Asia.

Read our blog to follow along with Thomas’ Civil War Cantata composing journey!

Tom’s Blog

Abstract blur of Mastersingers choir singing while performing during live concert.
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Stock photo close up of Mastersingers sheet music.
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Mastersingers sheet music with beautiful lyrics.
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