The History of the Eastern Mennonite High School Touring Choir: 1917-1981
Basham, Dwight Cornell
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For more than 35 years, the Eastern Mennonite High School Touring Choir has provided concerts for choral enthusiasts throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. The present study documents the development, establishment, and growth of Touring Choir from its inception, through June of 1981: identifying (1) the events leading to the development of Touring Choir; (2) the philosophy and purpose of Touring Choir; (3) the directors of Touring Choir and their musical and professional backgrounds; (4) the contributions of each of the directors; and (5) the origin and development of the Senior Parent Weekend Concert, Tour Concert, Mennonite High School Music Festival, and Commencement Concert traditions. The study reports that the history of the Eastern Mennonite High School Touring Choir can be traced to the expressed desire of the school's founders in 1917 that vocal music be an integral part in the education of its students in order to enhance worship and singing in constituent churches. As touring choirs developed, the unique organization of Eastern Mennonite College and High School provided a basis for emulation by the high school when it became a separate organization during the 1960s, culminating in the establishing of Touring Choir in association with the Mennonite High School Music Festival. Marvin Miller's leadership as Touring Choir director established the Senior Parent Weekend Concert, Tour Concert, Mennonite High School Music Festival, and Commencement Concert traditions which became the foundation of Touring Choir's activities during the 1960s and early 1980s. Implications of the study consider the importance of modeling for music education practitioners. The growth of the Eastern Mennonite High School music department and the success of the Eastern Mennonite High School Touring Choir during the combined tenures of Annetta Wenger Miller and Marvin L. Miller were characterized by an enthusiasm for the subject matter of music, high expectations and motivation of students by challenging them to sing music of enduring value in a variety of styles by master composers, placing responsibility for learning on students, a positive approach in teaching, care and concern for students as individuals, and an emphasis on the expressive aspect of music study. In addition, the results of the music program under Marvin Miller's direction may have been due in part to his overall philosophy of music curriculum design that each student would understand the place of music in his or her life experience.
- Masters Theses