ALL-STATE ORCHESTRA HISTORY (Part I)NOTES DA CAPO - By Clifford Brown and Patricia Green
(WVMEA Historian Clifford Brown has invited Patricia Ann Green, Associate Professor of Music at Marshall University to be guest columnist for the All-State Orchestra history.)
My first memory of the West Virginia All-State Orchestra was when it met in Huntington on 13 November 1942. 1 had just turned twelve years of age and was asked by Mr. Leland Arnold, Cabell Country string instructor, to play in the All-State Orchestra. I didn't understand why I was asked to play, except that maybe they needed extra string players, and a number of junior high students from the Huntington area were asked to play. I remember being very excited and still recall how I loved the big, beautiful sound - or at least I though it was beautiful at the time - an orchestra trade and the thrill of being a part of that sound. The conductor was Dr. John Warren Erb of New York University. At that time the All-State Orchestra was held in conjunction with the West Virginia Principals' Association rneeting.
The orchestra members that year received a card with a picture of the orchestra in lieu of the usual orchestra pin. This was done to conserve essential metal for the war effort - World War 11, that is. I still remember the tryouts for the first chair; it made quite an impression upon me at the time. Only the first four chairs were placed by tryouts; the instructors placed the rest of the students. I am sure this was due to lack of time - time which was needed to rehearse. Mariam Wheeler of Huntington High was placed in the first chair, and our own David Becker of Huntington East, now Cabell County supervisor of music, was placed in the second chair. I personally made up my mind at that time that one day I would sit in that first chair position.
The All-State Orchestra was discontinued for several years because of World War II. The next All-State Orchestra I remember was the 15th annual concert held at the Ramsey Auditorium in Bluefield on Friday, 5 April 1946. Dr. John Warren Erb was again the orchestra director for the concert. The program included: Overture to Iphigenia in Aulis by Gluck, "Lucio Silla" by Mozart, "Andante Cantabile" by Tchaikovsky, "Malaguena" by Lecuona, "Cripple Creek" by Stringfield, and "Finiandia" by Sibelius. This was quite a program to put together in three days, since the orchestra had no extra rehearsals. I remember how I personally loved the long rehearsals of intense practice. I felt a real sense of accomplishment.
Schools and instructors represented in this concert were: Beckley, Glenn Sallack; Burnsville, Autumn Amos; Charleston, Christine Johnson; Charleston Stonewall Jackson, Julian Spencer; Clarksburg Washington Irving, Mr. Mayer; Clendenin and Elkview, Dewey Canfield; Elkhom, Elizabeth Jackson; Harrisville, C.C. Arms; Huntington and Huntington East, Leland Arnold; Middleboume, Van Hom; Northfork, W.J. Skeat; Parkersburg and Parkersburg DeSalle Academy, Gladys Sorsby; Spencer, Karl Brown; St. Marys, Mrs. W.B.J. Corrnany; Terra Alta, Mrs. McConnell; War, William Skeat; Welch, Mr. Wade; Wirt County, Evelyn Newhart; South Charleston, Mr. Raspellaire.
I noticed in the program, while working on this article, that intenationally known composer George Crumb played clarinet in this All-State Orchestra. I also noticed that a number of orchestra directors also prepared students for the All-State Chorus. These included Elkhom, Elizabeth Jackson; Harrisville, C.C. Arms; Spencer, Karl Brown; Wirt County, Evelyn Newhart; and Beckley Woodrow Wilson, Glenn Sallack. (To be continued).