SFA A Cappella Choir performing for Rotary International – 1959
It was a very special time in teaching. My first year at Bryan High and a great honor to represent Texas Rotarians at their international convention in New York City. Sixty-two voices on stage at Madison Square Garden before a packed house of Rotarians from all over the world. I inherited a fine choir, the Legacy of a fine musician, Carl Best. He moved to another city, leaving me with this group of young adults who knew what it took to be the best. We had already been blessed by Roger Wagner and his Chorale while they were in our community for a Town Hall appearance at Texas A&M. Maestro Wagner thought this choir to be quite outstanding. At their convention held on the campus of Aggieland, attended by the Vice President of Rotary USA, we performed “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and brought the house down. I had just arrived back home with Russ Hillier, President of the B/CS Rotary Club called me back to where the VP invited my choir to perform later that summer in New York. Our first appearance was on
“NBC Today”. We had bus trouble all the way to New York, arriving just about 40-minutes before Barbara Walters picked us up at the New Yorker Hotel in twenty-six taxi cabs for a quick trip to Radio City and the NBC Studios. The invitation to perform was brought on by a bit of pressure from our Congressman, Olin Teague, and upon our arrival it became quite evident that we were not very welcome. We weren’t warned about New York and their Unions. Our first obstacle was the demand that we employ ten members of their wardrobe union since we had 70 in ‘costumes’! My accompanist was not allowed to play the piano since she didn’t belong to the music union, but the biggest problem was the fact that we were not ‘professionals’ and incapable of performing up to “Today’s” standards. We got by the wardrobe problem by claiming our robes were “traveling uniforms” and even though the choir sang songs written for accompaniment, we were allowed to sing a cappella and since there were no choir risers, sang from a veranda set much like the one for the “Hee Haw” show featured. The choir performed at a banquet at the Biltmore and sang “Give Me Your Tired Your Poor” from the steps of The Statue of Liberty. The poem is written on the base of ‘the Lady’. We visited the colonial village at Williamsburg, our nation’s Capitol and were invited to be featured for a ten week run with the “Rockets”, but they would only use 40 voices. No way would I leave members at home, but the offer was nice. The ’59 SFA A Capella Choir began a glorious legacy of excellent choral performance by each A Capella group, the Emanons, and Lamar Choirs will forever be a precious memory. Their performances that will forever fill my heart. as a “Labor of Love”.
And that’s what I get from MY box of chocolates. AMEN