Inland Children's Chorus Forum Page
The discussion forum below provides an opportunity for you to help preserve the history of the Chorus with your comments or memories. If you have problems with posting, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following are links to related content of special interest.
Chorus America "Impact Study" (excellent analysis)
Houston Children's Chorus ~ founded by former member Stephen Roddy
One Member's Reflections ~ vivid and poignant account by Jock Hussong
Final Concert Memories ~ 50th anniversary luncheon posters 2020
Christmas Card 2020 ~ Responses to Christmas card - 2020-2021
Forum Comments and Discussion:
Only the fifteen most recent comments are shown below. Click to view all comments.
- Nancy Hamden Provost - Wow! What memories. I loved being in the concert group. I sang when Richard Westbrock and Joe Gieger directed. When we would go to the amusement park for our big day, we could ride all the rides except the roller coaster. On our last day as graduates, Joe G. said he would go on the ride with us. Maybe he was the one who was afraid!!!! [Posted: Oct 23, 2020]
- Jerry Alred - A recent "What's New" posting featured a society column "Over the Teacups" [Link] that described a practice early in the history of the Inland Children's Chorus. I suggested that the columnist, Lelia Routzohn, used a unique personal humor that also reflects the pre-WWII period. But I also said that the article offers insight into how music and performance can transform children into a chorus with professional finesse. [Link - see second page] I suggested that, writing style aside, practices would be similar in later years under both directors. An academic colleague and long-time friend suggested I comment on specifically how I thought music and performance transformed the children in the Chorus. I can only give my experience, of course, so I'd enjoy hearing from others.
My experience was that learning the music, often measure by measure or even note by note, forced me to concentrate. Of course, as a young person I could be distracted, but certainly our directors maintained strong discipline. (I worked with both Richard Westbrock and Joseph Geiger.) But more significant, the other Chorus members near me at practice or in a performance depended on my being able to follow the music. Beyond those elements, much of the great music itself -- whether from Mozart, Romberg, or Bernstein -- seemed to demand a seriousness beyond our ages.
We all knew that when concert time arrived, we would need to perform for an audience well beyond our family members. When performing at Dayton's Memorial Hall with or without the Philharmonic, we performed for capacity audiences of over 3,500 and at the Art Institute, we would often give multiple performances to public audiences of over 500 each. I perceived that the staging and lighting was professional, but I didn't imagine it was developed by a Broadway theatrical designer. As the curtain opened, I was very glad that we had practiced and knew the music by heart. I did not want to let down my fellow Chorus members, the director, or the audience.
[Posted: Oct 01, 2020]
- Thomas Connair - I knew Raymond Sovey very well since my Dad was probably the first person he came in contact with when he first came to Dayton, since Dad was Plant Engineer at Inland. Dad was a couple years older. He had been in WW I and while in France waiting to come home after the Armistice was signed, he was commissioned to form a show troupe and go from camp to camp to entertain the troops while they were waiting for a ship to take them back home. Dad took part in some of the skits and also played the piano and a stringed instrument in the band. In addition, he made the sets and modified things in the hangars and other venues so the acoustics would be improved. With that experience it was pretty natural for Dad to bond with Ray.
I can remember one time when Dad called home to tell Mom that Ray was in town and he would be bringing him home for dinner. Mom had dinner almost ready but thought she might not have enough for an extra person so she sent me to the grocery to get more meat to add to the meal. Back in the late 40's and early 50's when Dayton went to the NIT in New York I was able to visit Ray in his studio which was just off Broadway and another time I was up there I stayed overnight at his place in the Beaux Arts Apartments and slept in a Murphy Bed, which was a new experience for me. The last time I saw Ray was September 15, 1952 when I was on my way to report for active duty in the Navy. I had gotten off the train in Baltimore and caught a streetcar to go out to the edge of town where I hoped to catch a ride to Bainbridge, MD. The streetcar had gone about a block or two when I looked out the window and who did I spot but Ray Sovey walking along the sidewalk. I exited the streetcar right away and Ray was as surprised to see me as I was to have spotted him. He indeed was a great guy and a true friend.
[Posted: May 29, 2020]
- Larry Brun - What a fantastic program! [Link] I'm so glad that the chorus ended on such a sad but positive note (pun intended). My congratulations to all of the final members who provided all the rest of us with such touching memories. We will all remember our good times preparing and performing but that show may top them all. God bless you all. [Posted: May 01, 2020]
- Jerry Alred - A Journal Herald article in 1965 laments the decline of industry music organizations and cites the Chorus as a notable exception. [Link] Based on a report for the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs, this article describes the shift in American culture that foreshadowed the end of the Chorus. Ada Clyde Gallagher who prepared the report believes, nevertheless, that "many Americans are beginning to feel the spiritual vacuum that results from ready-made entertainment from television and other sources." She is hopeful "that the time will come when the joy of making music together will become a major part of American culture." Whether that could have happened or will happen, the Chorus was an exception in 1965 because its goals were deeply educational. By 1970, however, so many cultural changes were antithetical to the Chorus as an organization that the outcome may have been inevitable. [Posted: Oct 23, 2019]
- Rob Marini - Thanks for directing me to that editorial on O'Brien. Many of the wealthy involved in business today do a lot with sports such as buying teams, facilities, and naming rights. It's sort of a community contribution, but it's often an investment intended to yield dividends down the road. The art's, if given one-tenth of the money directed to sports and sports facilities, would really be flourishing. It seems, however, the younger generation of entrepreneurs lacks the aesthetic sensibility of previous generations--perhaps society as a whole does. Then again, the arts have gotten a little out of touch with the masses as well, who find little to relate to in some of the more abstract movements. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing back soon. [Posted: Feb 24, 2019]
- Jerry Alred - A Journal Herald editorial praises the appointment of Inland's John D. O'Brien to the Dayton-Montgomery county public library board of trustees. [Link] He is applauded for his commitment to cultural institutions, among them the Inland Children’s Chorus. When I was in the Chorus, I recall after the curtain would be opened as the last of the audience left the concert hall, we would sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to our director and accompanist. We would also sing that song to Mr. O'Brien. In my young mind, I understood singing to our director and accompanist who we saw work long hours of practice. But I was not sure why we were also singing to Mr. O’Brien. I understand now that, although industrial leaders of that era were expected to support the civic life of their communities, John D. O'Brien's steadfast commitment to the Chorus through the WWII years and well beyond was very special. [Posted: Feb 12, 2019]
- Rob Marini - Very nicely put together video. [Link] It's a great little intro to the Chorus. Too bad the world has grown too cynical and coarse for such fine things and ideas. [Posted: Dec 17, 2018]
- Jan Mechenbier Yearick - I just found out about this website yesterday. I was totally thrilled to hear about it. I have 1 or 2 albums from the sixties and no player! Please add my email address to your mailing list! [Posted: Jun 20, 2018]
- Chad Wiechart - I have enjoyed reading a bit of the history on this website, but have no real connection to the Inland Children's Chorus. However, I received from my aunt, Darlene Martin, a gift of records, including about 15 ICC records and I would like to get them to a more rightful home. So I am donating these records for the Collection. The following are my aunt's comments about the connection of these records to her late husband, Tom Martin:
"I am absolutely thrilled to hear about your interest in the records and the connections that you have made to find them a proper home. About the Inland Children’s Choir, my husband Tom Martin was an electrician at Inland Vandalia and retired after 30 years. His father, Wayne Martin, was an engineer who also retired from Inland GM. Wayne and Virginia Martin [who played the violin] were both involved in the choir but I am not sure to what extent. I do know that they were financial supporters. Wayne was working at Inland during WWII when they converted the plant into an arms production. It has always been my understanding that the records were a promotional undertaking to finance the choir. Tom was an only child but Wayne and Virginia Martin had numerous friends whose children were choir members. There was definitely a social connection. You have made me very glad that I kept them and moved them with me three times. I always felt that someone would be glad to have them. Tom did tell me that the choir would perform on the Ruth Lyons radio program." [Webmaster Note: This forum comment was accepted on April 12, 2016, but did not appear on this page. Apologies to Chad Weichart: The message from his aunt is fascinating and certainly adds to the history of the Inland Children's Chorus. Darlene Martin's name was added to the list of Website and Project Contributors on the "About Us" page.] [Posted: Apr 17, 2018]
- Jerry Alred - Many people have asked how the idea for a chorus occurred to Wallace Whittaker and the Inland management. The histories of the Chorus in programs and elsewhere state simply that it "grew out of the Inland employee Christmas parties," but not precisely how. The Inlander of 1936 introduces a well-planned Chorus, including a photo of Raymond Sovey, the Broadway theatrical designer who was responsible for the costuming and staging. But a 1941 article sheds more light on the origin of the idea, as the following passage suggests:
"The members range in age from 8 to 15 years and constitute a chorus that is an outgrowth of an idea extending as far back as 20 years. When Inland started its series of employe Christmas parties at that time, entertainment was provided by children of various ages from Inland division families. The programs disclosed the fact many of the children possessed unusual vocal ability and the plan was conceived to form a regular Inland Children’s chorus." [Link] If this article is correct, the children who "possessed unusual vocal ability" may have planted the seeds for a children's chorus in the 1920s, well before the official founding of the Chorus in 1936.
[Posted: Feb 17, 2017]
- Jerry Alred - I was describing to a friend recently the drama of singing and marching off stage to Humperdinck's "Evening Prayer." No one so far has described in detail that experience, so I thought I'd try from my memory. And, please, corrections or additions welcome. I should mention that a full, in-concert version of "Evening Prayer" (sometimes referred to as "Fourteen Angels") with march off stage and sheet music is available on our music page. [Link]
"Evening Prayer" (German: "Abendsegen" or evening blessing or benediction) is the most famous song from Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel. The brother and sister are lost in the woods at night and try to comfort each other as they sing. As they fall asleep, fourteen angels appear in pantomime to protect the children. As a young person (and even now), I've often thought that I could use those angels watching over me.
Former Chorus members from every generation sang "Evening Prayer" as far as I can tell. It was something of an encore at the end of the first half. As it was sung (sopranos and altos only), the balcony spotlights and even footlights would begin to turn blue. I confess I enjoyed that feature on stage because the blue lights were cooler than the intense white stage lights. As the lyrics were finished, the accompaniment continued, the Chorus closed the binders in unison and marched precisely off stage -- boys stage left and girls stage right. On our recording, you can hear some of the footsteps as row after row marches off the stage.
The lights would continue to become more intensely blue as the stage emptied. The material used on the platform reflected the blue in such a way that the stage would take on an ethereal look. That must have been planned by Raymond Sovey, the Broadway lighting and production designer who staged the Chorus. We marched off the stage, down the steps, and out the side doors. Stage hands would make sure the side doors were quiet and the big curtains would close and then the house lights would come up for the intermission. In all, the effect was as dramatic as a participant as it was from the audience. [Link] [Posted: Dec 26, 2016]
- Larry Brun - Loved the snapshot album especially the pictures of the Connair brothers and Lucille Batter back in 1937. I went to school with Lucille's daughter Sue who was also in the chorus. [Posted: Jul 18, 2016]
- Jerry Alred - I have been working recently on music files and have uploaded to the website songs from a remarkably clear version of the 1958 album. That album was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of General Motors. One song on this recording is the traditional spiritual "Were You There?" that includes an excellent solo by Gerald (Jerry) Cochran. I urge website visitors to play that audio file on the "music" page. Many remember that Jerry had an outstanding voice -- unfortunately, this is the only recording that features one of his solos. Hearing Jerry reminded me of our friendship and time together as we rode the same bus to and from practices -- Route 4: Delphos-Wayne. I remember most vividly that Jerry and I would walk after practices from the Loretto, then through Rike's, and on to our bus stop on Third Street. What a treat it would be to see Jerry again at one of our luncheons or at least learn if he continued to sing beyond his time in the Chorus. [Posted: Jan 09, 2016]
- Larry Brun - Tomorrow The Ohio State Buckeyes will play for the first "Official" National Championship in football. The NCAA has never recognized a Champion before. This has brought back memories to me of 1954. Back then we had double sessions on the Saturdays 2 or 3 weeks before the concert. I don't remember the hours but I think they were from 10--12 and 1--3. Maybe Marilou remembers the hours. Anyway we would go to lunch from 12--1. There were many lunch counters in downtown Dayton to eat at at the time: McCrorys, Kresges, Woolworths, Rikes, White Towers (not White Castle), and Gallaghers. But a group of us always went down to the Arcade to a Deli called "Knolls" where you could get a custom made sandwich--hmmmm good. On one of those Saturdays in Nov of '54 OSU was playing Michigan and several of us hurried over to the 7th floor of Rikes to catch the last quarter of the game on TV. OSU won 21-0 and on New Years Day beat USC to win their 2nd National Championship according to the Polls. I was 12 years old and I think that Christmas we performed The Story of Bethlehem. It was Richard Westbrock's last concert. [Posted: Jan 11, 2015]
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