Two major celebrations of significant musical accomplishment occurred in Wheeling last Sunday afternoon, April 27 .
Alfred R. de Jaager, director of choral activities and associate professor of music at West Liberty University, conducted the school's concert choir for the final time at a "farewell" concert performed at Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church in Wheeling. As the 2013-14 academic year ends, de Jaager is retiring after 48 years of service to the instutition.
The large audience that filled Vance's sanctuary and balcony gave de Jaager and the choir members a well-deserved standing ovation at the conclusion of the excellent performance. In a moving moment, the longtime choral leader invited alumni in the audience to join the current choir members on stage for the singing of the Alma Mater.
The associate professor of music joined the West Liberty faculty in August 1966.
In retirement, de Jaager plans to leave his Bethlehem residence and move to Cambodia, where he is building a house near Angkor Wat, the famous temple that is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims.
Earlier last Sunday afternoon, a festive dinner and grand celebration were held at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Wheeling to honor Robert F. Troeger on his 25th anniversary as organist-choirmaster and director of music for the parish.
During the program, Andre Raphel, music director and conductor of the Wheeling Symphony, spoke of Troeger's many contributions to the musical life of the community, including his continuing service to St. Matthew's music programs, his involvement in the orchestra as a soloist on a number of occasions and as a symphony board member, and his work in teaching, directing choirs and service to campus ministry at Wheeling Jesuit University.
A number of special gifts were presented to Troeger during the festivities, including a formal photographic portrait commissioned on behalf of the parish choir and a special WJU blanket given by his students. Gifts also were presented from St. Matthew's vestry, congregation and children who participate in the church's music and Sunday school programs.
Family and friends of actor and playwright Matt Webster, formerly of Martins Ferry, traveled to New Philadelphia last week to see him perform in a Broadway touring production of "West Side Story."
Performances were staged at the new Kent State University auditorium on the New Philadelphia branch campus Tuesday and Wednesday, April 29-30.
Webster, son of Linda and the Rev. William O. Webster Jr. of Martins Ferry, is an actor in the touring production.
He is a 2007 graduate of Martins Ferry High School and a graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
His fiancee, Mary Joanna Grisso, plays the lead role of Maria in the musical. She is from the South Hills of Pittsburgh and holds a degree from WVU.
Since October, they have been on the North American tour of "West Side Story," traveling to Alaska, through Canada and throughout the continental United States, Webster's father said.
As noted in the Grapevine last month, Webster's second play, "PROPAGANDA! The Musical," has been selected to be produced at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in July. His first play, "Kingdom Come," won best musical at the 2012 Downtown Urban Theatre Festival in New York City and has been performed in various theaters in the Big Apple.
Linda Comins can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org