Aug 17, 2010

1,000 Accordions

Saturday, August 17, 1946: “Didn't do anything all day. Sat around listening to records. Sis went to the Music Festival with Chuck.”

The annual Chicagoland Music Festival at one time was, as is evidenced in the newspaper article below, very extravagant and very popular and, today, no more.

The Soldier Field Music Festival probably was the event, described to me by Sis, at which my mother played The Sharpshooter's March on her accordion. I'm not sure why Dot didn't attend this particular one, but I have a feeling it was because she was more interested in a couple of guys --Herb and Dave-- right about now.

Whatever the fate of the festival, on this Saturday evening 65 years ago, it was the place to be.

Above: The 100-piece Army Air Forces band upon its arrival in Chicago

Chicago Tribune: Clouds may hide the stars in the sky over Soldiers' field tonight, but there still will be thousands of stars shining brightly within the lake front stadium where the musical stars of today and the musical stars of tomorrow will present the 17th annual Chicagoland Music Festival before about 90,000 people.

Vocalists, instrumentalists, baton twirlers, bands, and choral groups were streaming into the city from 20 states to complete the festival's tremendous cast of more than 5,000 performers, Philip Maxwell, festival director, said.

Hotels and concert halls in and near Chicago's loop will be the scenes of final contests today, while in Soldiers' field some of the program's 30 acts will hold dress rehearsals.

Yesterday's arrivals included the St. Paul [Min..] 40 and 8 society, American Legion drum and bugle corps, in Indian regalia, and the United States army air forces' band.

The festival's two great singing stars, Helen Traubel, Metropolitan opera dramatic soprano, and John Charles Thomas, noted baritone, not only will sing tonight, but, with Edith Mason of opera fame, they will judge the vocal duel between the midwest and east.

Unique spectacles galore will feature the show. One thousand accordions will play “The Sharpshooter's March” as hundreds of gaily costumed baton twirlers go thru their paces; Dr. Edgar Nelson, honor guest, will lead the Hallelujah chorus of 3,000 voices.

The massed Negro chorus, directed by J. Wesley Jones, will sing spirituals; a brass choir of 300 instruments will play; hundreds of Chicago dancers will stage a tulip pageant as 150 klompen [wooden shoe] dancers from Holland, Mich., perform; [...] the Festival Symphony orchestra, directed by Henry Weber, will be heard. A tremendous fireworks display will furnish a blazing climax.

(From the Chicago Daily Tribune)

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