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, you can send a comment directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following are links to related content of special interest.
Chorus America "Impact Study" (excellent)
Houston Children's Chorus ~ founded by former member Stephen Roddy
"One Member's Reflections" ~ vivid account by Jock Hussong
Only the ten most recent comments are shown below. Click to view all comments.
"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 evidently was not posted. 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]
"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." -- Dayton Sunday Journal-Herald, "Dayton Music to Be Heard Far, Wide During Holiday": December 21, 1941, sports section/local news, page 6.
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]
"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 (the [WAV] file especially), 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. See the articles page December 1956 clipping with the stage and interior of the newly remodeled Memorial Hall.
I'm not sure if we performed that song and marched off stage at the Art Institute because of the smaller size of that venue. That's as much as I can remember, so if others recall more or further details, please add them. [Posted: Dec 26, 2016]
The names of soloists below are based on comments by the individuals themselves and the recollections of former members. But memories have faded over many years, so the list may have inaccuracies and is certainly incomplete.
1940: "Gesu Bambino" (Matthew Phelan)
1947: "Over the Rainbow" (likely Joyce Albrecht Clements)
1957: "Easter Parade" (Alfred Wimmers)
1957: "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" (Alfred Wimmers)
1958: "Were You There" (Gerald Cochran)
1959: "Panis Angelicus" (Elaine Ott Humfleet)
1960: "Ave Maria" (Phyllis Mote Keferl)
1959 or 1963: "O Come, Little Children" (Ronald Rehling and partner)
1966: "Gesu Bambino" (likely Kathy Wenclewitz)
Some excellent solos were never recorded. For example, a newspaper review for the 1947 spring concert describes "The surprisingly mature voice of Shirley Jones" singing the "Italian Street Song, " David Cordonnier singing "One Alone," and Bill Clingman who sang "Ol' Man River" and "Smiling Through." These do not appear on any of the records.
Many other solos (duets and trios) deserve recognition; some that stand out can be heard in the following: "Stardust" (1946), "Stouthearted Men" (1947), "Romance" (1948), "Red, Red Robin" (1953), "Adonoi" (1954), "V'shom'ru" (1959), "Danny Boy" (1960), "Till There Was You" (1960), "Panis Angelicus" (1962), "The Sound of Music" (1962), "Gesù Bambino" (1966), and "O Holy Night" (1966).
If anyone can identify more soloists, please add a posting. [Posted: Jan 2, 2015]