99th Chorus welcome part of any convention years ago
By DR. John Ingram
Prairie Village KS
The Biloxi convention was well attended and a fine time was had by all. As usual, the 99th Chorus helped make this happen. All who heard their performances were entertained and inspired.
A great deal of effort and expertise went into forming this excellent group. It has not been existence long. It evolved from informal sing-alongs which had a spontaneous beginning when Herm Saunders, stalwart piano player of K/394, instigated them long ago.
In 1999, Stewart Boone S/924, conceived the idea that 99th members could join together and form a choral group. He put out a call for volunteers and the result was more than he expected.
The most important member to respond was Bert Burda C/393, who not only had an excellent tenor voice, but also had been a professional music teacher most of his life. He volunteered to take charge, and became director of the chorus, a job for which he was eminently qualified. Everyone who has worked with Bert can readily testify he is a perfectionist, but at the same time, he is very tolerant of his fellow man.
Bert's wife, Phyllis, also had a background in music as accompanist on the piano, and as music librarian. So now she has a complex job looking after many and varied sheets of music, keeping songbooks intact, and is backup accompanist.
Bert proved to be an excellent talent scout, and has discovered much talent amongst his own family and other members' families as well. He was able to utilize all this talent in our 99th group. Like any great maestro, Bert modified many numbers with his own special arrangements.
Stewart Boone's silvery trumpet always can be heard at the introduction and in the finale of every program. He started playing the trumpet at a young age, and has stayed with it through the years. His great triumph came in 1999, when he got to play the National Anthem at Busch Stadium, opening a Cardinals game in St. Louis.
Christina Taite is a native of Hawaii and she thrilled us with her rendition of well-known island songs. B.O. Wilkins of Houston also did a fine job with baritone solos.
The 99 Chorus has been principally the product of Stewart, Bert, and Herman, and they have held it to high standards and made it what it is today. We are fortunate to have their talent and leadership.
CD now available
In 1999 the Chorus decided to produce a program on a compact disc. The program was to include a narrative history of the 99th and narration was done by Vern Swanson. It was divided into several parts. Between each part is an interlude of old favorite patriotic or inspirational music done by the soloists and the Chorus.
One of the highlights of the CD is Ellen Street, a young soprano, doing the "Star-Spangled Banner," reaching incredibly high notes and staying right on key. By contrast, Ben Burbank, bass of the Q/924, delves way down into the low notes with "Asleep in the Deep."
This sophisticated CD will be available at the convention in San Antonio, and every 99er should have one. Cost is a very nominal $10 and it is guaranteed to give you goose bumps!