A famous Wheeling singer was in the spotlight again last weekend, thanks to the Metropolitan Opera archives.
One of the Met’s historic performances was rebroadcast on public radio stations Saturday, Jan. 23. The production was Samuel Barber’s “Vanessa,” with libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti and starring the late soprano Eleanor Steber in the title role. The Wheeling native had only six weeks to learn the role when another singer dropped out of the premiere production in 1958. As it turned out, Steber had enormous success with the opera, which won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for music.
During a studio segment between acts, the program hosts pointed out that Steber was well acquainted with Barber’s work since she had commissioned him to write “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” for soprano and orchestra 10 years earlier, in 1948.
Last Saturday’s broadcast of “Vanessa” coincided with a West Virginia Public Radio fund drive. The on-air personalities who were soliciting funds for the public radio station during the Metropolitan Opera broadcast admitted that they hadn’t known, until a caller pointed it out, that Steber was a West Virginia native. Shame on them, I thought to myself, that the West Virginians extolling the importance of classical music were unaware of the Met star’s Wheeling roots.
The Wheeling community lost one of its most ardent supporters of music and history Sunday, Jan. 24, with the unexpected death of Dr. Edward C. Wolf. The Wheeling resident was well known in musical circles for his 37-year tenure as a professor of music at West Liberty and his 40 years of service as director of music for Edgwood Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Wolf co-authored the Wheeling Symphony’s history book that was published five years ago to commemorate the orchestra’s 75th anniversary. He also served as treasurer of the Wheeling Area Historical Society and as editor of its historical review. He was a longtime member and treasurer of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation.
Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net
The Buckeye State was well represented in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.
Of course, The Ohio State University marching band and the OSU cheerleaders participated in the Rose Bowl parade. Also representing the Buckeye State in the parade were the marching bands of Ohio University at Athens, the Ohio State School for the Blind (which received a much-deserved standing ovation from the crowd) and Pickerington Central High School.
It was an especially memorable holiday season for the Pickerington Central Marching Tigers, which also appeared in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. (In addition, the band played in the Rose Bowl parade on three prior occasions.)
Shirley Lenz of Rayland has two grandsons who are members of the Pickerington Central band: senior tuba player Josh Wiater and junior saxophonist Sam Wiater. She traveled to both New York and California to see her grandsons marching in the big holiday parades.
During a recent stop at Pittsburgh International Airport, Wheeling stockbroker Pete Holloway noticed a US Airways pilot, with gray hair and a gray mustache, standing in front of him in line at an airport coffee shop.
“Are you Sully?” Holloway asked the uniformed pilot. Sure enough, it was “the hero of the Hudson,” Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the airline captain who guided US Airways Flight 1549 to a successful landing in the Hudson River in New York on Jan. 15, 2009. Sullenberger chatted with Holloway and agreed to have his photo taken with the Wheeling resident.
Sullenberger, incidentally, was the grand marshal for the 2010 Tournament of Roses parade.
Representatives of Oglebay Institute are scheduled to participate in “Arts Day at the Legislature,” to be held at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston Monday, Jan. 25. The West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts are hosts for the day-long event.
Readers with sharp memories may recall that during the grand opening of the Civil War battle flags exhibition at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling in June 2009, Gov. Joe Manchin announced that he planned to give his 2010 State of the State address in the hall’s historic courtroom.
However, Manchin will be making the speech only in Charleston at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13. We’re told that the governor now plans to give the annual State of the State address at the state’s birthplace in Wheeling in 2011.
Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: Comins@news-register.net.