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Emery mery County Progress Castle Dale, Utah Tuesday July 9, 2013 3A

Huntington Glee club singing since 1919 By PHIL FAUVER, staff writer

The Huntington Glee Club has been performing since 1919. They recently presented their patriotic program as part of the Huntington Heritage Days celebration. Edward Geary of Huntington recently gave the history of the Glee Club at a Historical Society meeting. After the Huntington Glee Club sang their first set of songs “Stouthearted Men,” and “The Home Town” with Annette Cook as accompanist. Geary then began to narrate the program and relate the history of the Huntington Glee Club. Geary said “It is my privilege to welcome you this evening to a celebration of the history of the Huntington Glee Club. The distinguished Utah Historian Charles S. Peterson once remarked that Emery County has been unusual among the state’s hinterlands in the range and vitality of its community musical and theatrical activities. I discussed the early community dramatics with the Emery County Historical Society, several months ago. The historic musical activities are equally worthy of attention, beginning with the first years of settlement in Castle Valley, when Samuel Jewkes relocated a good portion of his Fountain Green choir to Orangeville, continuing with the Cleveland and Huntington chorus organized by Thomas Hardy that won the Scofield Eistheddfod competition in 1895, and going on to a “Grand Musical Festival” put on by the

Emery LDS Stake M.I.A. In 1933, featuring a chorus of 200 voices. Among the more recent fruits of this long musical heritage, we should note that the current musical director and one of the organists of the best-known musical institution in Utah, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, are both Emery County natives. Our focus this evening is on the oldest continuing musical organization in the County, the Huntington Men’s Glee Club. The Glee Club traces its origins to the spring of 1919, when the music teacher at Huntington high school, Evart Johnson organized a male chorus that performed in school, church, and community functions. This original high school ensemble was soon enlarged by the addition of men from the community and took on the name of the Huntington Glee Club. Please take a look at the photographs that are reproduced in tonight’s program. The three photos on the outside cover show the members of the Glee Club at approximately 30year intervals, in the 1920s, the 1950s, and the 1980s. The inside photo is a scene of Huntington Main Street a short time after the glee club was organized. You will see this street is not paved. Indeed, there were no paved roads anywhere in Emery County at that time. There was not even a coat of gravel, nothing but blue Castle Valley clay that turns into a quagmire when it rains. It looks as though

the middle of the street has recently been smoothed by a drag, grader, such as was still in use when I was a boy to put the playing fields on the town square into shape each spring. The single power pole, visible in the photo indicates that the community had been electrified, but only recently. Many outlying homes throughout the county still depended upon kerosene lamps and gaslights for illumination. There is one automobile on the street and two horse-drawn wagons. This probably reflects fairly accurately the transportation modes of the period. If you look closely, you will see there was a hitching rail in front of every store, yet the automotive age has clearly arrived. There are two auto repair businesses in the photo, the Marshall brothers garage at the left margin of the photo, and Shorty Shaw’s shop farther up the street. This, then, is the world in which the Glee Club had its beginning. The songs with which we began the program also reflect this era. “Stouthearted Men,” which has probably been sung more often than any other number over the years, came from a 1927 Broadway musical. “The Old Home Town” was composed in the very year, 1919, when

the Glee Club was organized. Our next song, “Those Pals of Ours,” is also a nostalgic reflection of the period when the Glee Club began. Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” captures the syncopated spirit of the Jazz Age and remains fixed in the affections of those who sang in the Glee Club in the 1950s and 60s. The second set of songs sung was “Those Pals of Ours” and “Mood Indigo”. Much of the credit for the Glee Club’s survival for more than 90 years must go to a series of highly capable and very dedicated directors. When Evart Johnson moved away from Emery County in 1925, he handed the baton to Perry Wakefield, who had been one of the charter members. A few months later, Perry was called on an LDS mission to Kentucky, and Bert Thomas filled in as director for two years. Upon Perry’s return, he resumed his responsibilities and continued for 38 years, which also included the 14 years he served as Bishop of the Huntington Ward. Following Perry’s accidental death in 1965, the leadership of the Glee Club passed to Errol Litster, who had been serving as associate director. Errol invited Bryce Wilson to conduct the ensemble on the occasions when Errol’s voice was needed in the first tenor section, and the two men shared directing responsibilities until Errol’s death in 1986. Since that time, for almost 25 years now, Bryce has been our director, ably assisted by Kendall Mortensen, who took over the reins during Bryce’s mission to Russia. The Glee Club has had its ups and downs over the decades of its history. Activity reached a low ebb during parts of the Continued on PAGE 4A.

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