Guion Hall

Built in the 30’s, the original ‘auditorium’ for Texas A & M University was large Guion Hall.  Many entertainers and performers walked that stage.  I was in “Anything Goes” there, decades ago.  Just prior to the structure being demolished, the SFA choir performed the second eition of “Rodgers and Hammerstein Song Book”.  The first one, performed in Bryan SFA auditorium was attended by less than a thousand.  The Guion Hall performance in 1965, had a packed house.  The ‘specical’ featured all the glorious music from the many musical compositions from this prolific duo.  We did favorites from “Carousel”, “Oklahoma”, “The King and I”, “The Sound of Music” and “South Pacific”.  The huge stage was covered in a giant, open “Rodgers & Hammerstein Song Book”, built and designed by John Scogin.  (John did all the scenery for each of our Musicals, with the exception of “My Fair Lady”)  We didn’t use an orchestra for these ‘specials’, but had excellent accompanists. (I had so many, I can’t recall just who played for this performance. I want to say Janie Grant, but perhaps someone reading this will recall).  Guion was not the most comfortable venue when loaded with a capacity crowd, but as the program progressed, no one thought of the heat.  It was a magical night. I recall so many of my ‘soloists/ensembles’ bringing chill bumps, but when Doy Ellen Butler sang “Something Wonderful” from “The King and I”, there wasn’t a sound and many tears flowed.  That child reached down and grabbed hereditary genius and sang as good as her gloriously talented mother. (who was among those filled and emptied that night).  I do not wish to belittle any of the other performers, but Doy shared from the heart and it took flight!  Another time that happened was in “Calamity Jane”, Karen Kraft sang (through laryngitis fear) “Secret Love”.  I was directing the orchestra and forgot to wave my baton.  Sandra Bowen shared her Facebook memories of that night when Guion Hall was blessed by some very good singers.  Singers who ‘gave’ their songs away, without strings attached.  In my mind, SFA choirs were faithful in doing so and that’s why they were so very special.  You see, “I know what it is like to hold moonbeams in my hand”.  God Bless my Choirs and Keep them safe!  AMEN

2 thoughts on “Guion Hall

  1. Mr. A., You must be a mind reader. I was thinking just last night about that goosebumps feeling when the choir is perfectly in sync and becomes something greater than the sum of the individuals. That instant at the end of the song when all you hear are the echoes of the notes ringing to the back of the hall and then the crowd bursts into spontaneous and real applause. I felt that the first time as a junior high kid helping with Show Boat, and then many other times in the A’Capella Choir, the Singing Cadets and church choirs. I particularly remember the UIL competition where we sang so well those very hard and challenging songs and won sweepstakes. I feel so blessed to have experienced that with all those wonderful singers and friends. Thank you for helping with make that happen.

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