Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dr. Fred Swanson and the Moline Boys Choir

Dr. Fred Swanson's name was spoken with awe, because he started and developed a well known boys choir. We were not just a tractor town.

When the National Music Educators meeting was scheduled to meet in Davenport, 1949, Fred Swanson was asked to organize a Quad-City festival choir of 500 boys from the entire area. Swanson was head of the Moline Public Schools vocal music program. The other music coordinators agreed and the rehearsals began.

After the first and only concert at the convention, the Moline group of 150 boys wanted to continue rehearsing and singing. Requests came in for additional concerts, more reason for the Moline group to continue.

August Sundine, Moline Daily Dispatch, donated money for robes. The Moline Boys Choir sang their Christmas Vespers concert at First Methodist Church in 1949, which began an annual tradition.

Their summer camp at Lake Geneva featured a concert, and that led to paid concerts in the Chicago and Wisconsin areas. The program outgrew the public school system and became a separate community organization, incorporated in 1953.

In 1964, the choir was invited to sing at the World's Fair in New York City. This led to a tour and the start of the touring choir. The touring choir was a separate organization because of the demands for rehearsals and practical limitations on transportation. By 1969 they were preparing to tour Europe, with massive help from Moline fund-raising and volunteers. A few years later they were touring the South Pacific.

John Robeson provided scans from the 25th anniversary (1948 - 1973) booklet about the choir. The booklet was made possible through the efforts of Douglas Frazer, former member of the Moline Boys Choir.