DEFIANCE, Ohio – Defiance College music programs will present the W. Oscar Jones Choral Festival on Sunday, Nov. 4, at 4:30 p.m. in St. John United Church of Christ, 950 Webster St. The performance will feature four choral ensembles including the DC Choral Union, DC Men’s Chorus, Black Swamp Honors Choir, and the Pride of Toledo Sweet Adelines chorus.
The performance is focused around the Black Swamp Honors Choir, a high school honors choir featuring 60 students from nine area schools. In its third year of existence, the honors choir will perform four selections as well as a piece with the DC Men’s Chorus and another with the Pride of Toledo. The concert will conclude with all groups singing the famous Nigerian folk song, “Betelehemu.”
Three conductors will be featured during the performance. Andrew Schultz, director of music programs at Defiance College, will conduct the DC Choral Union along with the Black Swamp Honors Choir. Schultz, founder of the Black Swamp Honors Choir, has been instrumental in re-establishing music programs at Defiance. The DC Men’s Chorus will be guest conducted by R.D. Mathey, a choral conductor for 40-plus years who has developed and learned a distinctive and award-winning conducting style. The Pride of Toledo Chorus is conducted by Kay Seymour, a veteran in the barbershop community who has been with the chorus since 2008.
The choir festival is named for retired music director W. Oscar Jones. Jones was a native of Venedocia, a Welsh community known for its fine choral music traditions. With degrees from Miami University and New York University, Jones began at Defiance High School in 1926. He founded four groups including senior boys and senior girls glees, junior girls glee and mixed chorus. As his reputation grew, he branched out to the community founding the Ladies Choral Society, Defiance Civic Male Chorus and choirs at Defiance College. Jones directed musicals at the high school and college while also serving as director of music at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.
In 1934 Jones established the first a cappella choir at Defiance High School which was chosen to represent Ohio’s contribution to the series “Music and American Youth,” a nationwide broadcast on NBC. Jones took his advocacy for the choral art one step further by serving as president for the Ohio Music Educators Association from 1941 to 1943. His 14 years in Defiance as well as his remaining years spent in Findlay were honored upon his retirement in 1961 with the receipt of the OMEA distinguished-service award.
Defiance College honors Jones with a choral festival in his name for his many contributions to the Defiance community and the choral art.
Tickets are $10 and available at the door. Reservations can be made in advance by calling Carolyn Gilgenbach at 419-783-2462.
Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The college website is www.defiance.edu.