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The following are links to related content of special interest.
- 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 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]
- 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." -- 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]
- 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.
"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]
- 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]
- Larry Brun - Jerry. Other soloists I remember...
Rocky Brown--Old Man River
Joe Bales--Adonoi-- sung at The Art Institute
Sharon Bachman--2 or 3 Don't remember the songs
And of course the "Pickled Boys" in ST NICK--Tom Meyer (who was there last spring) Pat Caulfield and I don't remember the 3rd but he is in the program. [Posted: Jan 4, 2015]
- Sharon Kelly Roth - My brother, Denis Kelly, was in the Chorus in the mid-1940s. As I recall he sang a solo in Stouthearted Men, but I can't say for sure the young voice on that song posted on the music page is Denis Kelly. He died 5 years ago but while he was alive he sang with the Indianapolis Opera Company and in dinner theaters. He loved being on the stage. He always praised Mr. Westbrook and all that he taught him. The Inland Children's Chorus was a highlight of his early years (mine also!). [Posted: Jan 4, 2015]
- Nancy Hamden Provost - I was a member from 1951-59. I really treasure all the memories and the music we sang. Those were golden years. Additionally, my aunt Mary Ann Wrightsman Cooper sang in the early years and when we did the St. Nicholas Cantata, she came back to sing again. It was great to sing with her. She had a super voice. [Posted: Jan 3, 2015]
- Jerry Alred - I promised at the April 2014 luncheon to post the names of soloists on the records whenever possible. I have learned some names, but soloists were not listed in the programs or on the record albums. One reason may be that the Chorus focused on the collaborative blending that James Tunney describes in an earlier comment. Both directors Richard Westbrock and Joseph Geiger acknowledged soloists during concerts so the audience could offer additional applause for a soloist's performance. Many solos in the collection and on the music page are remarkable, and a number of Chorus members went on to substantial careers in music -- they deserve recognition.
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]
- George Long - I remember Matt [Phelan] and I was with the Chorus then. In response to an article in our local paper, I contacted Matt and he sent me a tape and a program of the event. Pretty cool guy, Matt Phelan. My son transferred this program, together with my son-in-laws Cathedral Choir Christmas program to a CD and it has become a staple "Joyous Noise" during the Christmas season. [Posted: Jul 14, 2014]
- Barbara Bruns - I became a member of the Inland Chorus in 1962 at the age of 8 and graduated at 16 in the last Chorus graduation in 1970. Some of the items from my Chorus days, that I donated to the archives, included 2 hair bows. One from the "original" Alice Blue gowns that most of we all are familiar with and one from the new gowns that were made sometime in 1968 or 1969 (I'm not sure of the exact year, but I know that we didn't have them very long before I graduated).
I think the very first gown I wore had at least a 12 inch hem in it and over the years they were starting to become worn. I'm sure all the re-fittings and cleaning took their toll on those dresses and they also were made of a heavier fabric.
I remember going to a house off Smithville Road to be fitted for my dress - yes, one that was made just for me! The blue fabric was lighter in weight and a much brighter color but the gowns still had the white collars and cuffs on the sleeves and the black bow at the neckline. After so many years of the older, heavier gowns, it was so exciting to have a beautiful new gown to wear. There were also new hair bows to match the new fabric.
I would have loved to have seen the audience reaction the first time the curtain went up at Memorial Hall and there we were in those beautiful bright blue gowns! After my final concert, I kept my hair bow and also cut a small strip of fabric out of one of the seams in my gown. My only regret now is that I didn't make an attempt to locate my gown, once I received news of the disbanding of the Chorus.
If I had known then that there would be no one coming up in the ranks to wear that gown, I probably would have found a way to smuggle it out of Memorial Hall that night - that would truly be an item for the archives! [Posted: Apr 5, 2014]
- James Tunney - Jerry asked me if I knew who does the solo in "Song of Love" but I can't name of the soloist on this recording. My recollection is that Mr. Westbrock did not emphasize solo parts very often. He was very concerned about blending of the parts and occasionally had descants, but only outstanding people could perform solos and these were rare. [Posted: Feb 17, 2014]
- Joe Varley - I was a member of the Inland Children's Chorus in '58 and '59. Funny to see the pictures from way back then. Had a lot of fun and remember the city bus rides and practices at the Loretto in the basement. In later years we went to the Cyoda (SP) Club dances there on weekends. Fun times. [Posted: Feb 4, 2014]
- Debra - These new photographic postings are so impressive! [Posted: Jan 19, 2014]
- Nancy Focke Gerhardstein - I remember being a member of this chorus. Love of music and being a part of a chorus was a great learning experience! Our director, Mr. Geiger was a very dedicated person along with all others who were a part of this. I treasure the memories of this time in my life. Is there a members list somewhere? I can't remember the exact years when I participated and would like to find that out. [Posted: Dec 29, 2013]
- Debra - As an "outlander," I want to offer a comment of recognition to a marvelous artistic endeavor that continues to enrich so many lives -- young and youthful! [Posted: Dec 29, 2013]
- Albert F. Stoff (1963 -1970) - I was among the class that was to graduate the year following the discontinuation. It was such a disappointment to the many of us that had grown up in the program and benefitted from it. There were many letters sent to Inland Manufacturing expressing the displeasure of the program being shuttered.
I still have fond memories of getting to ride on the City Transit to go downtown to rehearsals, of the rehearsals (the privilege of operating the projector for the music), training for marching in, opening of folders (all with military precision) etc. (Was chosen to be on the team of training new members), Christmas parties at the Loretto and the summer picnics at LeSourdsville Lake and Inland Activities Center. The experience and privilege of performing at Memorial Hall and the Dayton Art institute, not to mention experiencing the taping of the Christmas Specials at Channel 2 (WLW-D) with the local celebrities.
I will always be grateful to Mr. Geiger, our director, and to Mr. Jones, and Mr. Will, our accompanists for giving us an appreciation of music through their dedication and expertise. [Posted: Sep 2, 2013]
- Phyllis Mote Keferl - What a thrill to know that so many of us still treasure our experiences in the Inland Chorus. I was a member from 1957 until 1961 and am so thankful for the lessons learned, namely dedication, musicianship and professionalism. It's a pity that many of our grandchildren are unable to have these experiences since so many school music programs are being phased out. When I read the Dayton Daily News article I went right to the web site and started listening to our music. WOW, we were darned good! I was a soprano soloist in some of the songs (Ave Maria, Silent Night and a few more) and it all evoked so many memories. Remember how ethereal the Memorial Hall stage seemed when we were surrounded by the blue flocked Christmas trees and how thrilled we were when it "snowed"? Performing at the Art Institute gave us a sense of heritage to be able to share our artistic efforts in such an august building. I've had our grandchildren listen to some of our songs because it will be still another way for them to remember me after I'm gone. Thank you for your dedication to the preservation of our times together. I hope to see you next April. [Posted: Aug 30, 2013]
- Norma Jean Young Hendricks - The fascinating article on August 11 about the Inland Children's Chorus brought many memories to my mind. Back in my distant youth, I, too, was a member of the Inland Children's Chorus with Richard Westbrock as our director, and Mary Werner McCash as accompanist. I was a member from about 1941-1948. Being from the country (what is now the heart of Kettering), I traveled alone on the Greyhound bus to and from Saturday rehearsals into the city. That was a big deal for a small girl of nine years. At first rehearsals were scary - Mr Westbrock had a formidable demeanor which intimidated me. As I became older and better acquainted, I came to appreciate his sense of humor. Most of all as I have matured, I have come to appreciate his ability to lead a group of average kids into a cohesive unit of music makers and music lovers. For love of music was his lasting gift to me as a member of the Inland Chorus. One of my life's joys has been singing--in college, in church choirs, in the Dayton Philharmonic Chorus and with the Dayton Music Club chorus. My association with the Dayton Music Club has been rewarding in many ways since today I am a past president of the organization, and currently chairman of its 125th Anniversary celebration committee. In September we will launch our 2013-2014 celebratory year of excellent music programs and support of young musicians through scholarships. For me this passion for music all began with becoming a member of the Inland Children's Chorus. [Posted: Aug 13, 2013]
- Carol Blagg Alford - I have had an indirect connection to the Inland Chorus. I really enjoyed reading the Dayton Daily News article. My Dad was the Principal Trumpet Player in the Dayton Philharmonic
Orchestra for 25-30 years, and it was one of the bright spots in his
busy schedule. His name was Paul Blagg. He looked forward every year
for the chorus to begin rehearsals. He thoroughly enjoyed playing for
them. He used to take me to the performances and, even though I don't
recall a lot about their programs, I always remember going and enjoying
them. I graduated from high school in 1951, so I was the same age as
some of the performers.
My Dad died in December, 1992 at age 90. He taught trumpet his whole adult life, besides being the Director of the Dayton Shrine Band, the contractor for Kenley Players at Memorial Hall, as well as playing for every show that came to Dayton. I still have to admit that the fact that he traveled with John Philip Sousa for two years when he was only 20-22 was the thing that made me prouder of him than anything else. He loved his profession and was so thankful for his God-given talent. I thought I would share how other people who were involved in the Inland Chorus productions felt about the Chorus. It definitely was a highlight of his year and I am so thankful that I got to share a little of that with him. [Posted: Aug 12, 2013]
- Kathleen Wirick Cormier - I was in the Inland Chorus from around 1958 - 1962 or 3. I remember taking an RTA bus downtown on Saturdays, by myself, (when it was safe for a kid to travel public transportation alone) and walking from Main St. to the Loretto for practice.
I had the unique blessing to grow up in St. Mary's Catholic church/school, where Joe Geiger was the organist. I sang in the children's choir there. When Joe Geiger asked me to join the Inland Children's chorus, I had no idea what a tremendous opportunity this would be. I was an alto. Singing in 4 part harmony was truly a gift. It was fun, educational and - well, I just felt very lucky to have had this experience.
When we had the concerts at the Art Museum downtown, I can remember walking through the basement - it felt and looked like something you would see in a haunted house - but it was such fun singing there! It was fun singing anywhere!
One year, Joe Geiger directed several high school chorus' and together with one high school band, we made a record. I went to St. Joseph Commercial High School. Julienne HS and Chaminade HS's chorus and the band at Chaminade all practiced together for weeks and then made that record. That was a lot of people together.
I continued to sing in St. Mary's choir until I got married there, and Joe Geiger played for my wedding. In fact, he played for many of my siblings weddings there.
Several of my siblings and cousins were also in the Inland Children's Chorus. It was a family thing to attend!!
Music is a great way of expressing oneself. I loved wearing the Alice Blue gowns - holding the blank black folders. The last Spring concert I was in was based on the life of two people who were born, went through school, got married and grew old together. Half of the chorus were dressed up as different characters. In my last Spring concert, I was chosen to wear Joe Geiger's daughter's wedding gown for the song - I Love You Truly.
I can remember Joe asking about 20 or so children to go to different places to sing - one place I remember going was the Downtown hotels singing for some people (have no idea who they were, but I remember it being fun).
Today, I still love that kind of music. And, I still consider music a gift. Joe Geiger was a very gifted and talented musician. Few, if any, were that great. Anyone who knew him or sang under his direction knew this. That the Inland Chorus lasted for so many years is a tribute to the directors they had. A real tribute. [Posted: May 17, 2013]
- Jerry Alred - I sent a couple friends a quote from a graduating Chorus member (Mary Pfander) in an interview for a 1966 article on the site: "From my participation, I learned a love of good music, I acquired self-discipline, and I learned to sacrifice my wishes to do the best for the Chorus." One friend wrote "the self-discipline is an important trait that many of our kids are missing." Another said "that quote is indeed the theme of your website." I agree. [Posted: Mar 21, 2013]
- Mary Anne (Huber) Federspiel - Last week, my sister, Jackie, and I visited the Archives at Wright State University. We spent two delightful hours going through three boxes of pictures and programs and remembering our years in the Chorus. The time certainly passed quickly and it was so easy to access the Archives at the library. [Posted: Aug 21, 2012]
- Norma Tunney Austin - I was in the Chorus from 1944-52/53...so many wonderful memories...does anyone out there remember the year Mr. Westbrock had laryngitis at dress rehearsal...couldn't utter a word...someone warned us that we had better behave (can't remember who was in charge), but true to form...we were all on our best behavior.
Not sure the kids of today would be quite so respectful...I remember we were lined up on the steps in the basement (was that Art Institute or Memorial Hall??)...perhaps it was before we got into our costumes?? Anyone out there able to fill in the blanks???? [Posted: May 29, 2012]
- Mike Eifert (1956-1962) - Incident told to Mike Eifert by Joe Geiger (c1960): As part of the regular yearly cycle following concert performances, the Alice Blue Gowns and the Eaton Suits were sent to professional cleaners. Following the Christmas concert the costumes were sent to the cleaners as usual. There was a fire at the cleaners and many if not all the items were either burnt or smoke damaged. The next concert was the one sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce at the Dayton Art Institute, usually in early February. The prep. time between the Christmas concert and the DAI concert was very short. A large portion of the costumes had to be totally replaced. Dressmakers and tailors were working overtime to get the jobs completed. Joe Geiger was a nervous wreck. Perhaps someone else remembers the incident with better details. [Posted: May 25, 2012]
- Jerry Alred - My years in the Chorus (1951-1959) were split between Richard Westbrock and Joseph Geiger. Bob Drerup's comment below reminds me of something I remember when Joe Geiger became director. Perhaps I was especially impressed with his comment because my own father died exactly one month prior to Richard Westbrock's death on January 27, 1955. At his first meeting with the full Chorus, Mr. Geiger told those of us assembled in the practice room, "It has always been my dream to direct the Inland Children's Chorus." In addition to what he said, something about the way he said it suggested to me that he was not simply taking on the Chorus as a job. And watching the care and energy he put into our practices and the concerts confirmed that he understood the purpose of the Chorus and its contribution to young people and the community. [Posted: May 18, 2012]
- Bob Drerup - I was in the Inland Chorus from 1957 to 1959. I was introduced to the chorus by Mr. Geiger when he was brought in as the new director in 1956. I came with several other friends (Ron Bauer and Jack Wysong) who were also in the St. Mary Choir with me where Mr. Geiger was the choir master. We were put in the tenor and bass section which meant we rehearsed on Friday after school and again on Saturday afternoon with the whole chorus. I remember learning the music "by heart" such that we had no excuse to not look at the director during rehearsal or a performance. I still remember some of the songs today after many years. The experience was memorable for the excitement of performing at Memorial Hall and the Dayton Art Institute.
Like Rita Mastbaum Hughes' parents, my mom and dad were good friends of the Geiger's; dad also sang in the St. Mary choir. They spent many an evening visiting at our house or mom and dad at theirs. In 1958, when General Motors was celebrating 50 years as a company, I remember coming home one weekend afternoon to find Mr. Geiger, my dad, and a few others sitting at our kitchen table working on the lyrics for the several "car" songs to be used in the medley commemorating the 5 GM cars. The Buick, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile cars already had songs but the Pontiac and Cadillac needed one each. I can remember the Cadillac one but the Pontiac one had slipped my mind. I later found all of the songs on the 1958 Inland Chorus record in my memorabilia collection. [Posted: May 1, 2012]
- Mary Blake - I was in the Chorus from 1960-66 under Joe Geiger. It was a fabulous experience. We practiced at the Loretto downtown one day after school and on Saturdays. I remember we used to give concerts at he Dayton Art Institute. As we marched off the stage, we sang the lullaby from Hansel and Gretel. I got an essential, very important musical education with the Chorus that gave me a great sense of harmony. I sang soprano as a child, and as an adult sang tenor with a local Sweet Adeline group here in LA. My dad was the traffic manager for Inland, worked there 35 years, retired in 1968. I have 7 of the Chorus' LP's from 1960-1966 that I would like to donate to Wright State. [Posted: Mar 11, 2012]
- Rita A. Mastbaum Hughes - My Memories of Inland Chorus: I have been trying to remember back to when I was in the chorus. It must have been around 1952 or 1953 when I was 9 or 10 years old. I do remember being at the Loretto in the rehearsal room in the basement. I also remember rehearsing at Memorial Hall on folding chairs. There were no theater seats in the downstairs at that time, but I think the balcony was there, as was the stage. Also there were large windows at the sides, which seemed eerie to me at the time. I don't think it was renovated until 1956.
Richard Westbrock was the director. He was a friend of my father's (Richard Mastbaum). He found sponsors at Inland for me and later my sister (Mary Mastbaum Pfeiffer) and brother, Thomas Mastbaum. I went in first since I was the eldest. Dad was a great singer and both he and mother (Lucille Abel Mastbaum) loved music. They wanted us to have a musical experience. Dad sang in Dayton at various churches, mostly St. Mary's with his friend Eugene Eifert, who was a tenor. Dad was a bass. They did duets and sang for lots of weddings. Both had wonderful voices.
Mr. Westbrock was a strict taskmaster. We had our music in binders and if anyone dared click the rings, they were dismissed immediately! I saw this happen at a Memorial Hall rehearsal and it made me very wary. The rehearsals at Memorial Hall must have been for the concerts. I never did make it on stage, but was an understudy. At least I got to wear a blue dress and was in the wings during the concert. Seeing that "GM Folks" cover on the website brought back memories. There were many familiar faces in that photo, but I do not remember a single name.
I would ride downtown after school on the bus (we lived off of Wyoming St.) to the Loretto for the weekday rehearsals, Then after rehearsals, walk down to meet Dad at work (Elder and Johnson at 2nd and Main) to ride home on the bus with him. This was the 1950's, but I cannot imagine allowing a 10year old child go on a city bus downtown now or even allowing my son in the 1980's.
It was a real shock when Mr. Westbrock died in 1955. I had not experienced many deaths at that age. It was a difficult time for the chorus. However, our family, especially Dad was pleased with the choice of Joe Geiger as new director. He was a talented musician and organist at St. Mary's Church. Their family had been special friends of my family for many years. Joe had been the best man at Mom and Dad's wedding in 1936. We had we had many dinners with Joe, Mary Louise and their daughter, Mary Agnes. They were very lovely people.
I did stay in the chorus for a short time after Joe Geiger was the director. I was getting involved with school activities and switched from being a soprano to an alto since the rehearsals conflicted with something I was doing on soprano rehearsal day. I think that was why I got the understudy since altos were in more demand than sopranos. The one song I remember the best was "Evening Prayer". I can't remember too many of the words, but can recall that "fourteen angels watch and keep". My sister was in the chorus longer and even has some records. I believe she will also be contacting you.
I enjoyed seeing all the pictures on the website. Bob Drerup and Gene Schamel were old friends of Dad's too. The Drerup kids went to grade school with me at St. Mary's. Dad also sang with the St. Mary's choir too. As you can see, your website stirred up many memories for me and I thank you for the memories. I hope to be able to go to the luncheon in April 28, 2012. I am recovering from back surgery and am now in rehab, so I am hoping to be recovered enough by that time to attend. [Posted: Jan 24, 2012]
- Larry Brun - Sadly, Martilu Hale, The girl 4th from the left, top row on the home paged passed away this past August. She was 69. I had been trying to get hold of her to tell her about this web site and at last found her shortly after I found out she had passed. I have been trying to find her family to let them know of this site so I could tell them about her but have thus far been unsuccessful. If you have any information let me know. [Posted: Jan 18, 2012]
- Marti (Lamoureux) Hughes - Every Christmas, our Church sings "Silent Night" in German. Every time I hear it, I think fondly of our
Christmas concerts. This was the last song of the program. I remember the curtains slowly closing. That was so spectacular to me! [Posted: Jan 18, 2012]
- Jerry Alred - I'd like to pass along a recommendation -- "The Chorus" (2004) directed by Christophe Barratier is an award winning film that dramatizes what John D. O'Brien says in his "welcome" on our home page. The user reviews are amazing (and true): "Music and hope" "Inspirational" "A Triumph of the human spirit!" and "demonstrates the Wisdom of Music." Reminded me of many comments on this forum and why the story of the Inland Children's Chorus should be preserved. [Posted: Nov 15, 2011]
- Gary Holland - Love the web site. Thank you for calling me about it. It brings back many memories. I had to dig out my old Inland Chorus albums. Haven't had them out in years. Still trying to remember some highlights to share with everyone. will try to post some later. [Posted: Nov 13, 2011]
- Paula Tunney - In 1941, my family moved near a family where the son sang in the Chorus. And ever after we got tickets to the concerts; I remember Memorial Hall and the Dayton Art Institute. Both the buildings were great venues. There were the huge pictures in the lobby of Memorial Hall and the wonderful ceiling in the Art Institute. And there were the flowers - all those poinsettias at Christmas, and spring flowers at the Art Institute! I liked the Art Institute best because it was smaller and I could see the singers better. The girls looked so pretty in their blue gowns. I was in grade-school at the time; I'd never imagined children could do anything so impressive.
I didn't know all the songs, but a few I did. I'd never heard Hansel and Gretel's Lullaby before. It was an instant favorite. I didn't want the music to stop, at the same time I wanted the end to come to hear that beautiful song as they disappeared.
After some years, the tickets stopped coming. Perhaps, the neighbor boy aged out. I wondered if he was glad. More than once, I'd seen him sitting on his porch writing. My mother said they were penance papers for Mr. Westbrock! I'm really glad I had the opportunity to attend several concerts. It was one of the highlights of my childhood. And I have good memories of it. [Posted: Sep 6, 2011]
- Dan Hoover - Home page ID: Pat Caulfield, Linda Hoover (sister of Bev Hoover between Jerry and Pat) [Posted: Sep 3, 2011]
- Tim Connair - The mention of Joyce Albrecht, who stood next to me in my first concert (1939), brings to mind the pleasure I had to be her guest for her performance in "Fledermaus" in Ft. Worth, TX in 1970. [Posted: Aug 2011]
- Joseph Albrecht, MD - [Webmaster note: Dr. Albrecht sent the following list of people remembered and information for the website.]
Merrill Albrecht (now Joseph Merrill) 1938-42
Westbrock, Angela Mae Lehman, Bob and Tim Connair, - Albers
Music - Valse triste (Sibelius), Hänsel and Gretel Prayer (Humperdinck), Ave Maria (Arcadelt and Vittoria)
Joyce Albrecht (sister) 1942-50 sop. soloist who as Joy Clements was with the Metropolitan Opera (NY City) from 1960-79. [Posted: Aug 4, 2011]
- Shirley Whiting (1944-1947) - If you remember Joyce Albrecht (later Joy Clements), she was such a pretty girl and had a beautiful voice. She is in some concert pictures on the site:
May 1945: Joyce is 3rd row up and 1st at center
December 1945: She is 3rd row up and 3rd from center
May 1946: She is 4th row up and 2nd from center
December 1946: She is 4th row up and 1st at center
As Fred says in his comment, she became well known at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and many other places. As I was writing this note, the Dayton Daily News of July 7, 2011 listed in the obits the name of Heidi Albrecht Easterbrook. I don't know if she was in the chorus, but Heidi was also an accomplished singer in New York and the daughter of Dr. Joseph and Peggy Albrecht who sang with the Dayton Philharmonic. Other outstanding soloists in the chorus included Angela Mae Lehman who was also very lovely. She graduated shortly after I became a member. Bill McCord was one fellow who sang solo parts when I was a member. Carrie McCord and a younger sister were also in the chorus. [Posted: Jul 21, 2011]
- Fred Moore (1941-1947) - People might be interested that a chorus member during my years was Joyce Albrecht. Later, she sang professionally under her married name, Joy Clements, and was very successful as a lyric coloratura soprano. She regularly sang with both the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera during the 1960s through the early 1970s. One item donated at the luncheon this past year is an article about her performance at the White House. That article appears on the website and will be displayed at the luncheon next year. [Webmaster note: see this 1968 feature article.] [Posted: Jul 15, 2011]
- Dick Brown - While not a member of the chorus,I had 2 brothers Jerry and Rocky and my future wife Charlotte Woodhead in the chorus between 1949 and 1951. Jerry will be coming 4/30 for the luncheon. Istarted collecting records and accumulated many of them from the 40's thru the 60's. Quite a few were found at various flea markets . Records from 1956 thru thru 1966 have been sent to Jerry for adding to the collection. The other ones will be at the luncheon. [Posted: May 16, 2011]
- Jerry Alred - I don't recall his bow as much as his raising his arm in a gesture to
recognize the soloists, which Joe Geiger did as well. Many were terrific, but never
listed in the programs. If anyone knows the names of soloists for particular
recordings, it would be great if you give them credit by posting a comment with
their names here. [Posted: Feb 4, 2011]
- Nancy Hamden Provost - My Mom loved how Mr. Westbrock bowed. She said it was so elegant. As I look back -- she was so right. [Posted: Feb 3, 2011]
- Jim Lehman - Hi all, I just found this site by accident. Also sent some pictures and
articles to Jerry Alred. If you look at the Programs site for the Christmas Concert
1944/45 you will see my picture along with Linda Crum. My aunt Angela Mae
Lehman is on the cover of the Inlander. I still live in Dayton, Oh., and will be
looking forward to the dinner that Jerry mentioned. Best Wishes to all chorus
members, Sincerly, Jim Lehman [Posted: Jan 7, 2011]
- larry brun - To Nancy P, William, Norma, Mary H, Fred, Susan, Stephen, Shirley,
Diann, Paul, Virginia, Tom, Terry, Katie et al, Please contact your friends, brothers
and sisters, and cousins who were in the chorus and tell them to post on this site. I
can not tell you how much I thirst and hunger to hear from my former compatriots
as do many others. It doesn't matter when you were there please let us hear from
you and maybe someday we can all have a big reunion. Mary Lou and Tom and
Jerry I would really like to hear from You [Posted: Dec 24, 2010]
- Nancy Hamden Provost - I was a member form 1951 -1959. I sang with Mr.
Westbrock and Mr. Gieger. I also remember the lady accompianst. Then ,she
retired and the gentleman came to play for us.It was a wonderful experience. I have
all the records. [Posted: Dec 7, 2010]
- William Thomas - I was a member from 1961 to 1967. I happened upon this web site by accident and so glad I did. It brought back many found memories. I was also a member of St. Mary's choir where Joe Geiger was the organist. I cannot say enough about how good a person he was. I still have my diploma and several of the albums. My brother Jim was also a member from 1961 to 1963 unfortunately he passed away this past spring before I could share this wonderful web site with him. Thank you so much for establishing and preserving the memories of a great experience in my life. [Posted: Sep 20, 2010]
- Larry Brun 1950 - 1956 - 9/15/'10
I just received a call from Tom Ashworth from Knoxville. What a pleasant surprise. Tom says I missed identified the boy in the home page as Doug Waltmathe, the second boy on the upper left. He said it was actually him. He says he may know one or two others in the picture. Anyway if you would like to get on touch with me my E address is firstname.lastname@example.org [Posted: Sep 15, 2010]
- Jerry Alred - Norma, thanks for the comment about the website. If I understand your question about the dresses, click on the "St.
Nicolas Chorus 1953" thumbnail on the photos page for a good view of the ensemble. For some reason, I don't remember much about
the concert itself, so I hope some others jump in with more details. And, by the way, I so much appreciated the help from your dad and
all the others for getting us into those Eaton suits -- not an easy process! [Posted: Sep 3, 2010]
- Norma Tunney Austin - I am an "old timer" as I was in the Chorus from 1944 to 1952. I have such fond memories of the thrill of the
concerts...such excitement! Even all the rehearsals were fun and the final double rehearsals on Sat. when we got to have lunch at White
Tower was really special. I made so many friends, and even remember a few "crushes"...ah youth! My close friend was Maureen
O'Connell. We are still good friends and have discussed the fun times in the Chorus. When we weren't at rehearsals, we even "played
Chorus" and did all the singing.....for the kids we liked, we sang well and, of course, you know how we sang for the kids we weren't so
fond of !!! When I turned 16, it was a sad day. Then they formed the Senior Chorus. As far as Maureen and I can remember, we only
sang with the Senior Chorus in the "St. Nicholas Concert"...neither of us can remember performing any other time with the Senior
Chorus? We can't remember what dresses we wore for that performance? Can anyone out there remember what we wore?
Some of the best memories of my youth were associated with the Chorus. I might add that my Dad was a "dresser" for the boys for
several years...that being said, I must confess I have some "lines" in my scrapbook that he brought home in his pcket..(I don't think he
gave out very many !!! Keep up the good work with the website, Jerry. [Posted: Sep 2, 2010]
- Larry Brun 1950 - 1956 - I have been asked to identify the people in the picture on the home page. While I remember most of them from more than 55 years ago I can't remember a few and I'm unsure about a few first names. Although the picture is identified as a publicity photo 1955 I'm sure it was taken in the fall of 1954 or 1953. We were all 11 or 12 years old. Mr. Westbrock picked us to appear. I remember it was taken on a cold windy day and we were transported from the Lorretto after dressing to Holy Angels Church. The picture hung in the old DP&L building surrounded by other Christmas decorations and frills for ten or more years. I would make my yearly visit to see it. It was about 6ft by 10 ft.
Top Row left to right: Larry Brun, Barbara? or Carol? Besancany, Doug Waltemath, Marti-Lou Hale, Tom? Myers, Nancy? Lambert, Greg Westbrock, Judy James
Front Row left to right: Jerry Alred, Bev Hoover, Pat Caulfield, Unidentified, John Liddy (deseased), Unidentified, Robert Frederick.
If you were there at that time and can identify the other two or the first names please comment. Larry [Posted: Aug 9, 2010]
- Mary (Wysong) Bauer - I joined the Inland Children's Chorus in the fall of 1956, and "graduated" in the spring of 1963. I loved being a part of the chorus. It has added a dimension to my life that I otherwise would not have had.
I was very small, and I remember that when I was fitted for my first concert in 1958, the smallest dress they had was still way too large for me. I am not sure how the seamstresses did it, but it fit perfectly for the concert. The dress number was 144 (I still remember it. And I wore that same dress until I left, in 1963.) The music was terrific, I enjoyed all of the practices, concerts, recordings, Christmas Parties, and trips to LeSourdesville.
I remember, too, that I turned 16 on October 31, 1962, and so according to the guidelines, I should have "graduated" in the spring of 1962. I begged and begged, Joe Geiger, to let me stay in one more year. I kept telling him that when practices started in September, I would still only be 15. He finally relinquished and allowed me to stay in one more year. It was a sad day, when I had to leave the chorus. I remember, too, the 25th anniversay concert that we did with some former members who were now adults. Gene Schamel and Barbara (Fitzharris) Schamel, and several others.
Mr. Westbrock was not there when I joined. Joe Geiger was the director then. He was an awesome inspiration to me. And although I have sung in other choirs, no director has ever even begun to live up to Joe's standards. I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate his perfectionism and patience with us. He was a wonderful person, and not only a great director, but also an exceptional organist. I don't know how many people know that. I sang for Joe in a church choir for many years during and after Inland Chorus. I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate not only his talent, but his inspirational force for my love for music, and all that he taught me.
What stands out mostly in my mind, was the night of the black-out when our Christmas concert was scheduled. I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to get there. I finally arrived with only about 10 minutes to spare. The children were already lined up to go on stage, and they had an alternate in my place. I never got into my "Alice Blue Gown" so fast, but I made it! I think the alternate was sorry.
I, too, like Mary Sue Gmaz still sing those songs to myself, and my children were raised on many of them.
I was so sorry when Inland discontinued the chorus. I felt that it was a great loss to our young children, and that it was so sad that they would not be able to experience the excitement of performing at Memorial Hall in front of the large audience, not to say of all of the friends and love for music that they would miss out on. [Posted: Aug 3, 2010]
- Nancy (Calvert) Hoffman - I was so excited to find this website. I have great memories of my years in the chorus. I was also greatly surprised to see the picture of my brothers (John and Don Stevens) from the Dayton Daily News article. I still have recordings and some pictures and programs from my years in the chorus. I wrote to Mr. Geiger, as an adult, to thank him for his leadership and his influence in my life. I have spent many years now working with children in theater, school and church. Inland Children's Chorus has been a positive influence in my desire to offer other children the same experience. [Posted: Jul 12, 2010]
- Larry Brun 1950 - 1956 - Some of the things I remember: we had 2 concerts at Christmas, one with the Philharmonic, one by ourselves on different nights 2 concerts in February at the art institute back to back. We had lunch and watched movies in between. 1 concert in the spring on Sunday afternoon recording sessions in the summer after we had auditions for the concert group (100 plus 6 alternates)it was practice, practice, practice. the soprano boys and girls came on thurs. and the rest came on tuesday. on saturday we all came together. the closer to the concert the more and more practice. we began coming tues thru sat first, then double sessions on saturday 9-1 and1-4.we had lunch hour from 12-1. then eventually we came on sunday from 1-4 also. needless to say we were very well prepared.
Mr. Westbrock had a very talented ear and would not tolerate someone off key or goofing something up. certain bars would be sung over and over until it was right. he could tell where mistakes were coming from. at dress rehearsal mr. Westbrock always said his biggest fear was that someone would drop there music binder. he would raise his hands and we would raise our books and then he would open his hands and we would open the books and never look at them again. no one ever dropped their book in my six years. He also feared someone would stumble and fall down. that never happened either.
Mr. O'Brien always spoke to us at dress rehearsal. He was such a kind man. Dress rehearsal was brutal and seemed to go on for hours and hours under hot lights, as we marched and marched and sang and sang. there was always a medical staff there to treat those who became ill and several did. Someone mentioned the song we marched in to. I believe it was "march of the wooden soldiers" or "toy soldiers" or just "toys". at any rate it is similar to the song the Ohio State Band does script ohio to.
I remember at LeSourdsville lake we always had a lunch of swiss steak then we had to sing before playing which we all hated. mr Westbrock would not let us ride the roller coaster which was pretty mild compared to todays coasters.afterwards they would raffle off silver dollars to those lucky ones. i won one one year and i believe i still have it. one year they gave everyone a ballcap with an "I" on it. [Posted: Jul 12, 2010]
- Larry Brun 1950 - 1956 - I joined as an 8 year old in 1950 and road the bus downtown by myself after school for a nickel. I'm the one in the upper left corner on the picture on the front page. I believe that's Alred in the lower left corner. The picture was taken in the balcony at Holy Angels Church and hung as a very large photo (about 6x10 ft) in the old DP&L building at Christmas time every year for about ten years.I was in every big production that we performed includind the St. Nicholas story. the Steve Allen Show, the western show, the Special christmas show and many others. I was devastated when Mr. Westbrock died in 1955 and found it hard to go on in the chorus. I quit shortly thereafter. Mr. Westbrock was like a father figure to me and was one of the kindest and most influential men in my life. I would like to here from others who were in the chorus at my time. Larry Brun [Posted: Jul 8, 2010]
- Fred Moore - I joined the Inland Children's Chorus in 1941 at the age of 8. My mother worked at Inland and thought it would be good for me to sing in the chorus. I sang in the chorus for 6 years. My uncle taught me to play the French horn which I played in the Roosevelt High School Band. I also played in the NCR Band at Old River Park. In 1955 I started playing with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and played with them for 25 years. I feel that the training I got thru the chorus took me to a higher level of music. I have retired my French horn but I now sing in my church choir. P.S. I still carry my folder at my side as I did in the Inland Children's Chorus. [Posted: Jun 9, 2010]
- Jerry Alred - Susan, I love your comment about "Evening Prayer"! Thanks to contributors, our "music" page has both a recording and the sheet music for that piece. I always enjoyed not only the reassuring words of that song (I needed 14 angels), but I also appreciated that the bank of hot white spotlights on stage would shift to the much cooler blue lights. Ah!
As I've been preparing reviews to post on the site, I've come to realize that the impact of the performances was much more than the music, great as it often was. The performances involved the costuming and staging by Raymond Sovey, the Broadway theatrical designer whose central role I learned about only this year. It was also the hard work of all those "Inland people" who J.D. O'Brien refers to in his "welcome" on the home page (thanks for help with the collars) and of course the musical talents of Richard Westbrock and Joseph Gieger -- not to mention outstanding musicians like Mary Werner MacCash, Isabel Herbst, Paul Ray Jones, and others. It was the setting of Memorial Hall (Stephen Roddy mentions the "Austrian curtain" Wow!) and the incredible design, setting, and stage at the Dayton Art Institute. All the practices, dedication, and hard work of many came together to produce the performances that were highly praised in the newspaper reviews of concerts.
I share the sentiments of others who say they were lucky to have been part of the Chorus and that's part of the reason why I'm glad to have the opportunity to work with the site. And it's fun handling this historical material even for a short time. Having spent many years in the classroom, I am so pleased as well that Wright State will preserve this history because it offers a model for providing similar opportunities to young people in the future.[Posted: Jun 8, 2010]
- Susan Gmaz Jones - I was a member of the Chorus from 1957-1964 and without a doubt it was a very important and influential part of my childhood. My father was a 45 year veteran of the Inland and I was proud to partake of the opportunity that the Chorus provided to the families of their employees. To this day I still hum and sing those songs I learned which turned me into a Broadway "junkie"! Certain memories I remember most are the "Evenings When I Go to Sleep" prayer that always closed the first half of the concerts which I now sing to my grandchildren. I remember so well going to the Loretta and reading comic books before practice began. The nuns upstairs always loved to hear the singing coming from the basement!!! I loved coming to practice on Thursday at 4:00 (Sopranos only) and then on Saturday when all sections came and we put all the harmonies together. Joe Geiger did command strict attention and discipline from us and we always knew what we were there for!
Such fond memories I have of those years. I am delighted that Jerry Alred has taken the time and dedication to pull the archives together and a special thanks to Wright State for their part in preserving the Chorus as a part of Dayton history. [Posted: Jun 7, 2010]
- Stephen Roddy - I am so happy that we now have a website for Inland Children's Chorus. My two brief years in the Chorus (around 1963-64) had a major impact on my life. I was one of the few children who were admitted into the Chorus because my father was Minister of Music at a local church (at that time Westwood Baptist...which later moved to become Far Hills Baptist). I will never forget my first rehearsal and the fear and trepidation of having to learn "do-re-mi" backwards. I also remember the wonderful gifts we all received at Christmas. In fact, I still have my "Brownie" camera and grey bag! The most memorable impression was standing on the stage when that glorious Austrian curtain came up. I'll never forget the strict rehearsals and the excitement of performing on a concert hall stage. I still cherish my two Inland Children's Chorus Christmas albums! After two degrees in music and many years working in large Texas churches, I founded the Houston Children's Chorus in 1989. Visit our website at www.houstonchildren.org. We sometimes perform upwards of 75 concerts per year --- many times for the President and world leaders. We were featured in the opening ceremonies of the Superbowl in 2004, as backup vocals to Josh Groban. We have the unique privilege of performing regularly with the Houston Symphony. My girls wear formal long dresses and the boys are in tuxes...just like the "old days". ha! SO...it's all because of those wonderful years in the Inland Children's Chorus! [Posted: May 17, 2010]
- Shirley Whiting - I became a member of the Inland Children's Chorus in 1944. My first concert was the Spring Concert of May 25 and 26, 1944. My regret was not being in the chorus at age eight. Being a member was the highlight of my youth and I loved every minute.
The excitement of waiting in line for the music to march to the stage was beyond words, and after the concert, to still be on the stage and count, out loud, how many times the curtains would re-open again and again to applause from the audience was wonderful.
We knew all the hours of practice were appreciated. I felt so very blessed to have been a member and to have had Mr. Westbrock as our Director.
I will be eternally grateful to the Inland Mfg. Div. of GMC and for Mr. Wallace Whittaker, Gen. Mgr. for his decision to encourage children to learn about beautiful music and how it enriches our lives. Also many thanks to Gerald Alred for all the time and effort he has put into getting "OUR" website and also to Wright State Univ. for accepting to be the permanent home for our material. [Posted: Mar 9, 2010]
- Diann (Thomas) Brown - I followed in the footsteps of my big brother, joining the chorus in 1958. How exciting to be involved in a large musical production at such an early age! I can still recall the butterflies in my stomach while waiting backstage, standing on those risers, waiting for the curtain to rise to reveal a large, appreciative, applauding audience! True, it was probably mainly family members, but it meant the world to me, making those long, weekly rehearsals all seem worthwhile. As soon as the first number would begin, I felt all my apprehension disappear, ready to put on the show of my life!
I started out my musical "career" singing soprano, and as the years went on and my voice started maturing, I would go on to singing second soprano and finally, alto. I remember asking Mr. Geiger if I could still earn a solo if I was an alto and he assured me I could, so I reluctantly changed. It always seemed to me that the sopranos were the ones who got the solos, but I did earn a solo, of sorts, singing the alto echo in the "Echo" song.
Inland gave us some fantastic Christmas parties over the years! There would be cartoons and homemade popcorn balls, and best of all, presents! One year, probably in 1958, we all got jackets. They were very high quality, the same style worn by college and sports teams at the time. They were white with blue lettering and may have even had our name sewn on them. I was so proud to wear mine, feeling like I belonged to something special! (See a snapshot with me and a chorus friend who is wearing a jacket.) I also recall the time we each got a camera and another time, a "train" case for the girls. Those were different times and Inland spared no expense on us, even taking bus loads of us to LeSourdsville Lake amusement park near Monroe, OH every summer for a day of rides, games and eats! We played bingo and would earn silver dollars as prizes. Oh, how I looked forward to those trips every year!
I will forever be thankful for the musical training and fun times I had while in the Inland Children's Chorus! [Posted: Mar 7, 2010]
- Paul Thomas - The Inland Children's Chorus was a big part of my childhood, growing up as the last of six kids in a GM family that was constantly surrounded by music. Two of my siblings already sang in the Chorus and even before I was of eligible age, my sister convinced director Joe Geiger that her little 7-year-old brother had a good singing voice. Mr. Geiger allowed me to audition and I earned a spot in the Concert Chorus.
Joe Geiger was one of those guys that commanded respect. He would let kids be kids, but when it was time for rehearsal or a performance, you better be ready to go. This was no time for goofing off! We had a job to do. For 15 years he managed to take a group of 8 to 16-year-olds, most that had no musical experience, and got them to sing in harmony. Even more incredible was that, most of the time, they were in tune!
Concerts were held at Dayton's Memorial Hall or Art Institute. The stage productions were nothing short of amazing: the Eton suits, bright lights and packed auditorium were all very exciting -- and intimidating -- to a young boy. Being very small in stature, I had the terrifying position of front row center, just inches from Mr. Geiger's podium for two whole years! He was so close I could count the beads of sweat on his forehead under the hot stage lights. I can still recall his smile and little wink to calm our jitters before starting a concert.
One shining Chorus moment from my era occurred in December of 1966. In the 1960s, several TV stations had their own local and regional variety or talk shows. Many people recall the Phil Donahue show, which started in WLWD's (now WDTN) studios. What most people don't remember is that prior to Donahue, there was the Johnny Gilbert show. Johnny, famous for being the 'voice' of the game show Jeopardy, had his own locally produced variety/talk show on WLWD. The show featured many top name guest stars, a live band, an audience and lots of music. Johnny's 1966 Christmas special featured the Inland Children's Chorus. I can still recall the family gathering around the TV on Christmas Eve to watch the taped event. At 10 years of age I was appearing on a TV show. This was the big time! [Link to the flier on the "articles" page for "The Music of Christmas" hosted by Johnny Gilbert.]
The chorus kept me musically occupied for six years but I wanted more. After taking up trumpet, the rehearsals of both chorus and band became a bit too much. Puberty wasn't all that kind to my singing voice anyway, so at age 13, I turned my attention to the trumpet.
Loving music as I do, I still play trumpet today as a weekend warrior in a big band. Last year we played for a party in the Shaw Gothic Cloister at the Dayton Art Institute. While wandering down a hallway looking for chairs for the band, I opened a door and found myself backstage. Suddenly I was peering out into a dark auditorium I hadn't seen for 40 years. For me, this is where it all started. Chills ran down my spine as I recalled performances from my childhood on that very stage.
The Inland Chorus concerts were larger than life to a child. Inland gave the children lucky enough to be involved a good musical foundation, instilled discipline, and taught them group cooperation. With the difficulty of maintaining profit margins, a more global economy -- who knows the reasons -- businesses aren't quite as involved in community today. I was lucky enough to grow up during a time when the GMs and NCRs gave back to their employees, families and the community. Even today, I am richer for their contributions. [Posted: Feb 25, 2010]
- Phyllis (Denlinger) Phillips - I recall Mr. Westbrock telling the assembled children in the concert group that we all needed to have black shoes for the concert. But he was also very emphatic in telling us that we should tell our parents that they did not need to buy us new black shoes. He said if we had brown shoes, we could buy black shoe polish and make our shoes black.
I will always remember the "real" trees sprayed white (no artificial Christmas trees then) and the large blue lights at Christmas. As we sang Silent Night, all the lights were dimmed except the blue lights in the background. One Christmas we gave Mr. Westbrock a baton with a small light in it to use during Silent Night as everything was darkened. (I think we took up a collection.) [Posted: Feb 24, 2010]
- Jerry Alred - Matt Phelan wrote the following note about the 1940 recording of Silent Night: "The narrator was Deems Taylor of New York. He was best known as the 'voice' of the Metropolitan Opera every Saturday. Mr. Whittaker, GM of Inland, brought him in just for this concert which took place at the Dayton Art Institute Dec. 1940." [JA: Deems Taylor is well known by music historians as a composer, music critic, and promoter of classical music. Taylor arranged a version of a Chorus recording of "Ave Maria," which includes the following notation on the record label: "Edited and arranged for four voices by Deems Taylor." But Milton Cross was the "voice of the Metropolitan Opera," and Cross appeared at an event with the Chorus in 1944 where he met members and signed autographs (see the November 1944 Inlander feature on the "articles page"). The "photos page" also includes original photos from that event. Further correction March 2015: Based on search results of the Yale Deems Taylor collection as well as the WLW Radio Script from December 1940 (see "The Story of Bethlehem - 1940" on the "music page") and voice analysis, the narrator was likely Paul Allison, a long-time announcer at WLW Radio in Cincinnati] [Posted: Jan 9, 2010]
- Virginia Mauch Wade - I was delighted to learn of this website, which Tom Connair announced at the Golden Flyer Christmas Banquet on Saturday, Dec. 19. I graduated from the chorus in 1949. I cannot remember if I joined at age 8 or later. I do know that I was a member when I was 11, because I have a program from that year.
You may find it interesting to hear that I was not related to anyone who worked at Inland. My mother, Leona Wellmeier Mauch, was a second cousin to Richard Westbrock, and she may have thought that connection would get me in. She took me to audition at the Loretto, and fortunately, I was accepted. I went to St. Anthony School, and remember riding the bus back and forth to the rehearsals with various other members, such as Rita and Ray Wittman, Tunney siblings, Doris Bauer, Geraldine and Linda Meixner, Mary Lou and Gerald Wening, and last but not least, our Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk.
I will be forever grateful for this experience. Is it known yet where the archive will be located? [Posted: Dec 21, 2009]
- Tom Connair - Jerry, In looking for more info re: the chorus, I noticed this statement that accompanied the 1943 picture of the concert group. It reads, "The Inland Children's Chorus was founded in 1936 by Colonel Wallace S. Whittaker, for 20 years Inland's General Manager. The purpose of the Chorus was to give the children of Inland employees an opportunity for musical education which they might not otherwise get, and to make a worthwhile contribution to the cultural life of Dayton."
In 7 years, the Chorus has succeeded beyond the fondest hopes of its founder. This talented organization has become nationally known as a result of its annual appear-ances with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, its national broadcasts and other public appearances.
Directed by Richard Westbrock, and staged by Raymond Sovey, the Children's Chorus has become, during arduous war days, an added inspiration to the men and women of Inland and to a grateful community--who recognize in it a living symbol of all that America is fighting for". I just want to add that Wally Whittaker wasn't a colonel at the time of the formation of the chorus but became one when he entered the Army. J.D. O'Brien came on board as General Manager of Inland when Wally left. That's it for now, I'm still trying to figure out how to get some of the Inlander pictures transferred to a disc so l can send them to you. Maybe that will happen after the first of the year. Merry Christmas (2009) [Posted: Dec 17, 2009]
- Tom Connair - Jerry, I goofed, the name of the theater on 4th St. was Keith's, not Lowe's. I'm sure someone will catch that besides me. (A senior moment) I have sent your blog address on to my brothers, Mike and Tim and my sister, Susan (that's all that is left of our family of 7 siblings) so I hope they will chime in with some words of their own. As for me, I will add more thoughts at a later date. [Posted: Dec 9, 2009]
- Jerry Alred - Tom, this is wonderful history. Thanks so much. This sort of posting is terrific for building the historical record of the Chorus for the site and for any permanent institutional home. I'd certainly urge you and others to contribute more memories about the Chorus. [Posted: Dec 8, 2009]
- Tom Connair, DVM - Jerry, Thanks for the opportunity to comment about the chorus. My four older brothers were charter members and I joined in 1936, when I was 7. In succeeding years my younger brother and my sister also became members. Wallace Whitaker was the general manager of Inland at that time and my Dad, Sylvan Connair, Sr. was plant engineer and as such he worked with Raymond Sovey who came from NYCity to design the set for our concerts. To start with we did not have an equal number of boys and girls in the "concert" choir as is evident in some of the "Inlander" issues I have. The "darling" of the chorus at that time was Angela Mae Lehman who lived on Forest Ave. Paula Shay was only one of the many Shays to sing in the chorus. As a sidebar, Dick Westbrock had an all boys choir which went by the name of "Westbrock Singing Boys" and it is my belief that (I was also a member of this group) since we sang at Christmas time for Richard Grant and his family when they were having dinner on Christmas eve, Grant asked Dick Westbrock if he could form a childrens' chorus if a division of G.M. would sponsor it. Out of this came the sponsorship by Inland. For those of you who don't know the name Dick Grant, he was the president or CEO of G.M. in the 30's and lived in the outskirts of Dayton on an estate that went by the name "Normandy Farms". They raised purebred Jersey or Gurnsey cattle. Back to other info about the "chorus", we rehearsed at the "Dayton Industries" building which had been the YMCA but is now the Dayton Municipal building. From there we went to the Loretto and then to the Dayton Young Women's Club on 4th St. near Lowe's theater. After that I think rehearsals went back to the Loretto. I could share more memories but I think I've gone on long enough for now. [Posted: Dec 6, 2009]
- Terry (Theresa Shay) Lupp - Thank you, Jerry ! I was in the Chorus - perhaps one of the longest, since I joined when I was 6 yrs. old, and had to leave when I was sixteen.Mr. Westbrock and Mr. O'Brien had a farewell ceremony,and I received a suitcase (which I still have)(Later they changed thr entry age to 8yrs.) I'm so glad you have this site (altho' I'm sorry I don't remember you.... [Posted: Dec 5, 2009]
- Katie LoPresti - Hello! My grandmother, Phyllis (Denlinger) Phillips was in this choir from 1938 until roughly 1946. She told me about this site; I think it's fantastic! Either my Adobe is too old a version, or there is a problem with the site because I can't view the programs. Anyhow I'm really excited that you're doing this. [Posted: Dec 5, 2009]
- Jerry Alred - Yes, I posted the comment and link. Thanks so much for your thoughtful post! Your grandfather was a remarkable man and so important to many of us. Should you discover materials that would help with this history, we'd love to get digital copies to add to the collection -- even if something duplicates an item on the site, it could be in better condition. [Posted: Nov 18, 2009]
- Rick Westbrock - Thanks to Jerry (I assume) for posting a link to this site on my family site http://westbrock.net since there is a lot of material here that I had never seen before. Richard B. Westbrock was my grandfather after whom I was named (and sadly was never able to meet) so this site contains a lot of family history. Thanks for sharing and if I come across any information that I can offer I'll be sure to let you all know. [Posted: Nov 15, 2009]
- diana - This is a great project for preserving a piece of culture that could be forgotten. [Posted: Oct 31, 2009]
- Cynthia Sommer - Congratulations on your extensive collection of the music, programs and pictures of the Inland Chorus. History of the chorus should be preserved. [Posted: Oct 29, 2009]
- Ulrike Mueller, Germany - HI, I just came across your site, when looking for a recording of "Silent Night". What a nice idea to preserve this music and history of your chorus. Best regards from Germany. [Posted: Sep 24, 2009]
- Paul Thomas - Jerry, Nice job on the site. I would encourage visitors to leave a comment and let us know they were here. [Posted: Sep 16, 2009]
- Jerry Alred - Does anyone know the title or composer of the March on Stage included on the music page? [Posted: Sep 12, 2009]