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WLU Choir On Tour In Europe

May 16, 2010

The West Liberty University concert choir, under the direction of Alfred R. de Jaager, is now on tour in eastern Europe. However, the group's travel to Europe was disrupted and delayed because of additional problems caused by the airborne movement of volcanic ash over the continent last week. As a result, the choir's first concert was canceled because the group could not get to Krakow, Poland, in time for the performance there on Tuesday, May 11.

The choir had eight other performances planned during their tour to Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria. Their final three concerts are scheduled in Vienna, Austria, today, May 16; Monday, May 17, and Tuesday, May 18.

While some choir members are making their first overseas trip, others are on their second international tour. In May 2007, 33 students from de Jaager's choir program toured Italy.

We commend Sean Duffy, adult programming coordinator at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling, for his fine work in organizing and managing the library's popular Lunch With Books program. The presentations are enlightening and timely, drawing an increasing number of patrons for the Tuesday noontime events.

Wheeling businessman Stuart Bloch's presentation on his family's company, Bloch Brothers, Tuesday, April 27, attracted an audience of 131 people, which Duffy said was the second largest crowd in the 13-year history of the Lunch With Books program. A program presented by author Bob Withers of Huntington on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Tuesday, May 11, drew 107 people, which Duffy said was the fifth largest crowd in the series' history.

To date, the average attendance for Lunch With Books for 2010 is 61 people, Duffy related. By comparison, the average attendance for the weekly sessions was 52 in 2009 and 41 in 2008.

As has been noted in this column and elsewhere in the newspapers, a number of alumnae of the former Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy and others in the community have launched efforts to try to save the historic building from potential demolition.

Other Wheeling residents (and possibly some of the same people mentioned above) have expressed concern over the possible fate of the Wheeling-made chandeliers at Mount de Chantal.

The two magnificent chandeliers (including the massive model hanging in the Music Hall) were produced in Wheeling by the glassmaking firm of Hobbs, Brockunier and Co.

It's not known exactly how the ornate lighting fixtures came to be part of the school, but there is speculation that the chandeliers were a gift from one of the glassmakers whose daughter had attended the Mount.

Of course, the issue presently is not how the chandeliers came to be at the Mount, but rather where the historic fixtures will go now that the school has closed and the remaining six members of the Wheeling community of the Sisters of the Visitation have relocated to Washington, D.C.

Representatives of a number of local entities have looked at the chandeliers, but have determined that, for them, the cost of purchasing the chandeliers, dismantling the fixtures and reassembling the pieces is prohibitive. Another hindrance is the fact that a massive space, i.e., a large room with very high ceilings, would be needed to mount the Music Hall chandelier in particular.

But, surely, there has to be someone in Wheeling with the resources and the room to display and cherish these beautiful chandeliers. It has been suggested that the chandeliers might be sent to an auction house in New York in an effort to garner the most profit from a sale. However, such a move would mean that two more valuable pieces of Wheeling history would be lost to the city forever.

To the historic preservationists' cry of "Save the Mount," Wheeling glass enthusiasts would add a chorus of "Save the Chandeliers."

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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