Waring's Pennsylvanians reunite in California

Singers from Fred Waring's world-renowned choir, the Pennsylvanians, recently held their first West Coast reunion in 20 years, at the Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church, in California.

Waring's widow, Virginia, a classical pianist who leads the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, was honored at the event. Waring, 92, a native Californian, was a concert pianist who studied in Paris with Robert Casadesus and toured for 10 years as the Morley half of the famed duo-pianists Morley and Gearhart. She led the choir before Waring's death in 1984 and wrote his biography, "Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians: Music in American Life."

Waring, known as "the man who taught America how to sing," was a famous choral leader, showman, glee club pioneer, golf tournament host and entrepreneur who held together a major musical organization for 67 years. Thirty members of the group appeared from all over the country for the weekend event. Attendees spanned the generations and included, among others, Patsy Garrett, who introduced the Cole Porter standard, “Begin the Beguine” with the Pennsylvanians on radio in 1939, Keith and Svlvia Textor, featured singers on the 1950s Fred Waring TV Show, and John Stanley King, a Palm Desert favorite local musician.

This reunion was the first performance of the Pennsylvanians on the West Coast since a 1988 appearance at the just-opened McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, which Waring was instrumental in founding. The concerts included video clips from Waring's 1950 TV show, solo performances and two numbers conducted by Virginia Waring.

For information, contact Eileen Akin at (814) 863-2911.

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Last Updated March 19, 2009