Kiwanians learn history of Galion Community Chorus
By Sarah Einselen
Before there was Mr. Krichbaum’s “Messiah,” there was William Hood Critzer’s.
David Gale, third-year president of the Galion Community Chorus that performs Handel’s “Messiah” each year, addressed the Kiwanis Club at its regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 29, telling members about the history of the Galion choruses that have performed “The Messiah” since the 19th century.
In the mid 1890s, Gale said, a community chorus formed that performed each Christmas until 1924. Like today’s chorus, the choir was accompanied by an orchestra. The instrumentalists were a mix of local high-school talent and musicians brought in from Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati—not an easy accomplishment in the days of train travel, Gale said. Critzer was the first director for that chorus. The three-decade run ended a few years after World War I.
Another Galionite, Hartley Snyder, tried to revive the community production in 1934, but no record exists of performances in the years afterward, so Gale’s sources concluded that the revival had been short-lived.
Herb Krichbaum received the challenge to revive Galion’s “Messiah” chorus again just after he was hired on as the Galion high school choir director. “Apparently he said, ‘show up with 75 choral members and I’ll do it,” Gale recounted. “And the rest is history.” Krichbaum cultivated local talent exclusively and directed the choir a cappella for 30 years before stepping down. A variety of others directed the chorus after Krichbaum before current director John Sikora took over.
“John kind of went back to the 1890s to mix talent,” Gale said. The modern community chorus is accompanied by professional instrumentalists and soloists, sometimes from within Galion but usually augmented by others from out of town. The chorus purchased a harpsichord in 2007, Gale said, to avoid the “logistical nightmare” of having to continually borrow one.
The soloists for this year’s performance are all college voice students. “We’re very, very excited because that goes in the direction we want to be headed,” Gale said.
Further information about the history of the Galion Community Chorus and about Handel’s “Messiah” will be printed in the program for the Sunday performance.
During the business portion of the meeting, Kiwanians received updates on Toys for Tots donations. Robyn Minnear, head of the Toys for Tots committee, said the community had been “very gracious” and shelves would be sufficiently stocked for this year. Members will gather Wednesday and Friday evenings to price and organize the toys.
Kiwanis president Doug Greene said Pete Waite had agreed to chair the new “Internet committee” to establish a viable web presence, especially on Facebook.