Howard County Times
Howard County

Curiosity drives greater understanding of The Great War

The Columbia Pro Canatre concert learned about World War I in preparation for its concert on May 5.

When it was decided that the Columbia Pro Cantare would do a concert with a World War I theme, Kathleen Bowen's interest was tweaked.

"I'm a very curious person," said Bowen, a current member and the former executive director of the choir. "What songs?"


From a collection of CDs and album notes she found online, Bowen, 75, discovered more than just music. She learned a great deal about World War I.

"I found out so many things about this era," Bowen said. "I thought 'what should I do with all this information?'"


Originally, Bowen wanted to talk about different aspects of the war at the beginning of each rehearsal. Frances Motyca Dawson, director, was not in favor, however, due to limited rehearsal time,.

"How do I do this?" Bowen wondered. "I came up with the idea of the quiz thing."

Bowen created a trivia contest. Prior to each rehearsal, Bowen emailed several questions about the war to all of the choir members, who then had the opportunity to email the answers back to her. Bowen provided the answers at the following rehearsal.

"It has been a real interesting journey for me," Bowen said. "I do like to do research."

Bowen's questions dealt with basic facts like "What started World War?" as well as with local history, with questions about the Patapasco Female Institute and Fort McHenry, for example.

While participation has been limited, the enthusiasm has been positive.

Howard County Times: Top stories


Daily highlights from Howard County's number one source for local news.

"From what I can tell, they are all reading it," Bowen said. "Some are real eager because they get back to me the same day."

Bowen has kept track of all the participants' answers and will announce the winners at the final rehearsal. Prizes include lunch for four at the Owl Bar at the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore and tea for four at a teahouse in Woodstock. A two-pound box of candy and a collection of World War I movies on DVDS round out the prizes.


"I thought she did an excellent job of putting stuff together," said Elladean Brigham, the current executive director of Columbia Cantare. "It's been very interesting. There was very good stuff in there."

The quizzes have helped the choir members appreciate the music, Brigham said.

"The choir has learned a lot,' she said. "It has helped them enjoy the music."

A sample of questions from Week 4 with answers:

  1. Women in the United States could not vote during WW I. When did they gain that right? The 19th amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote. Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, ratified on Aug.18,1920.

2. On Sept. 14, 1917, a soldier at Camp Meade began experience chills and then a fever. This was the beginning in Maryland of what international pandemic? The influenza epidemic, or the Spanish flu, deadliest in history, infected est. 500 million people worldwide (about 1/3 of planet's population) and killed 20-50 million, including 675,000 Americans. There were three waves in Maryland from September through December. In Maryland, 5,160 died. The medical specialty of virology began with the Spanish flu.