WJTN’s Dennis Webster and Jim Roselle hosted a live broadcast from the JHS A Cappella Choir room to celebrate the 90th anniversary of both organizations. The broadcast featured performances of the A Cappella Choir and Madrigal Singers, as well as the Men of Tomorrow and Ladies of Today. In addition, members of the A Cappella Alumni spoke and sang with choir, including four basses from the Class of 1950 – Don Anderson, Dave Anderson, Cherrill Castle, and Bob Sundell.
During the show Mr. Webster and Mr. Roselle presented director, Norman Lydell, with a very special record album of the 1957-58 A Cappella Choir. Recorded just 12 days after the death of the choir’s founder, Ebba Goranson, the album represents the first recording of the Annual Vespers concerts. Many years later, Lucille Lown, A Cappella accompanist who led the Vespers that year, heard Mr. Webster and Mr. Roselle discussing the A Cappella Choir on the radio and donated her copy to WJTN.
“This record is extremely valuable to our collection of A Cappella recordings,” said Mr. Lydell. “Our immediate goal is to transfer our collection of albums and cassette tapes to CD in order to preserve our recordings for the future. The loan of this album is just another example of WJTN’s support of our school and community organizations. We share our founding year, 1924, with WJTN. I think both organizations are special, each in their own way, and together we’re two examples of what makes our community a special place.”
WJTN took to the air as WOCL in late December of 1924. Much has changed since its modest beginning, yet WJTN continues to enhance the community by providing direct access to the occurrences and activities of our area and through the promotion of our schools, businesses, government agencies, and civic organizations. The A Cappella Choir is featured twice each year on the WJTN Saturday Morning Breakfast Party, through promotional radio spots advertising our concerts, local coverage of important events, and through broadcasts of Vespers performances on Christmas Eve.
“I am a 1972 JHS graduate and while I was in the instrumental program, I was never a singer. But over the years, I have come to have the greatest respect for the A Cappella, and the program they present every year,” said Mr. Webster. “Vespers is an exceptional challenge, because the choir only has from 10:53 to 11:30 each day to prepare. And the music must be learned, memorized, and perfected in about three months and two weeks. Norm Lydell has done an excellent job with the choirs in this regard.”
Mr. Webster went on to say, “There are some great life lessons there: clearly defined mission, limited time and resources to prepare, high expectations for the performance. Isn’t that what most of us face every day in the working world? I think Mr. Lydell and all the instrumental directors, are teaching skills that are applicable far beyond the arts.”
The first JHS A Cappella Choir was founded at in 1924 when Ebba Goranson combined the men’s chorus with the women’s chorus at Jamestown High School and went on to direct the choir from 1924 until 1957. In 1958, Donald B. Bubé became the director adding the Men of Tomorrow and the Madrigal Singers. In 1981, the baton was passed to Brian A. Bogey who continued the choir’s long tradition of excellence and through performance and travel established the ensemble as the “Choir of Cathedrals.” Norman Lydell became the choir’s fourth director in 2003 and continues to preserve the tradition and heritage of this unique high school choir program. The choir maintains an extensive concert schedule, performing between 250 and 300 pages of music from memory each year. This year’s 90th Anniversary Vespers included 275 alumni singers performing with the current A Cappella Choir.