The story of the Wahlert High School Choir’s concert tonight in Carnegie Hall prompted TH reader Kathy Reiter to recall being part of a Wahlert choir trip to New York City in 1964.
(The choir performs tonight in the famous New York City venue with Christian singer John Angotti. It’s the second trip to Carnegie Hall since 2007 for choir director Pam Mumm.)
Reiter emailed the TH about a trip that Wahlert students took under the direction of the Rev. Gerald Blackburn.
The students, who “practiced every free moment,” cut an album recorded at Loras College’s Christ the King Chapel and were invited to sing at the Vatican Pavilion at the 1964 World’ Fair, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.
Unfortunately, what made the 10-day bus trip even more memorable, was that Blackburn had a heart attack during the trip and was hospitalized. TH photographer Jim Shaffer, traveling with the group to record the event, assumed a leadership role and a recent Wahlert grad, Fred Frick, directed the choir at the concerts.
Shaffer, who filed reports as a staff writer, wrote in a story published June 12, 1964, “The students, with long faces and at times with tears in their eyes, handled their difficult assignments like professionals Thursday night at the Vatican Pavilion before crowds estimated to total more than 14,000."