All-State High School Chorus – 1948
NOTES DA CAPO by John L. Puffenbarger
Imagine how pleased music teachers were in February 1929 when their plan for a chorus of high school students performing during the music section of the State Education Association meeting became reality! That was the first All-State High School Chorus.
As the young WVMEA grew during the 1930s and 1940s various changes were made in the organization of the chorus. Improvement in the method for selecting students, the number of students selected, the size of the chorus, payment for guest conductors, and the amount of fees were some of the items discussed.
In 1947 the WVMEA directed that the All-State Chorus chair develop guidelines to govern the activities of the chorus. These guidelines grew out of improvements which had been made over the years and resulted in a handbook that was printed in 1948.
This handbook stated that a general letter to all "first-class" high schools was to be sent during the first month of school. The letter was to include a survey for prospective chorus members and would announce the dates and meeting place for the chorus. Only schools with organized mixed choral groups would be eligible.
After compiling the survey's results, chorus members would be allocated according to the enrollment of the school. Two hundred students outside the host city would be selected, and the host city could add any number which would be possible to seat in the auditorium where the concert would be held. Tryouts were before a board of three adjudicators and were held on the first afternoon of registration before the first general meeting.
In 1948 the chorus fee of $2.50 was due by I February. The Principals' Association developed the method of paying the fee, which was that the student paid $1.50 and the school paid $1.00. These fees paid for the guest conductor, who received $50 per day in addition to hotel, food, and travel expenses. The accompanist received $15. The fees also covered other expenses such as stationery, stamps, telephone, and chorus pins.
The all-state chair had a lot of responsibility. He or she had to engage the director, select the program, send the program to the schools by October, contact the host city concerning housing for students, select an official jeweler, and order pins.
The Principals' Association paid for hall rentals, piano rental, and programs for the final concert. The chorus chair sent the balance of the money collected to the Principals' Association, which kept it in a special music fund. Today the WVMEA Vocal Association is responsible for all operations of the WVMEA All-State High School Chorus.