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VALLEY OF CLEVELAND SCOTTISH RITE CHORUS
Don Shellhorn joins
By Chester Willey
Since I am writing this far enough ahead to meet the tyrannical publication deadline set by our tyrannical(!) editor, we have not as yet started rehearsals for the Fall Reunion, although we will have by the time the magazine comes out. When we do, we will welcome our new rehearsal pianist, Mr. Don Shellhorn, whom many of you know as a prominent Cleveland-area church organist (recently retired from English Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights) and singer (35 years with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus). Working with musicians of his caliber will make our efforts on behalf of the Brethren attending the reunion even more memorable and musically satisfying than in the past.
While working in the present, and preparing for the future, we do well to remember and reflect at times on where we've been. It was very gratifying to me to see one of our late Brethren, a much more worthy predecessor of mine as Director of the Chorus, Charles D. Dawe, receive recognition recently. In the program for the Cleveland Orchestra's first subscription series this season, from Sept. 19-21, 2002, under the direction of the new Music Director Franz Welser-Most, there was an article highlighting the 50th Anniversary year of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus which, in its present incarnation, was begun in 1952 at the instigation of then-Music Director George Szell. Part of the article listed briefly the "antecedents" of the present Chorus, and stated that Brother Dawe was their director for the 1941-42 season.
That's the good news - that a most worthy Brother is still remembered for his contributions to and leadership within our community. The bad news is that, as is so often the case with our Brothers, no details on his life and career were given, and thus no mention was made of him having been a Mason. We have been so diligent about not being seen (or heard) "tooting our own horn", is it any wonder that an entire generation of young men have grown up not having a clue that Freemasonry still exists, or what it is all about, or whether it is an organization worthwhile to join??
That program, incidentally, featured the music of yet another Brother, Franz Josef Haydn's oratorio "The Creation". Once again, in spite of quite a bit of credible evidence as to his Masonic connection, no mention of his fraternal activity appeared in his program biography.
Earlier this year, in recognition of the first anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America, I was privileged to participate in the Cleveland version of a worldwide event called the "Rolling Requiem". Musicians and singers from over 120 cities all across the world - at least one in every time zone, from New York to Cleveland to San Francisco to Tokyo to Sydney to Bombay to Jerusalem to Prague to Vienna to London - sang a setting of the Requiem Mass scheduled to start at 8:46 am local time in each time zone (that was the moment when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center) - hence the "roll" in the title. As the performance ended in one time zone it was picked up in the next, all across the world. In order for this to work, there had to be a single piece chosen that most musicians would know, and yet would be sufficiently challenging and uplifting to make it both a worthwhile musical experience and a meaningful tribute to the victims and heroes of that terrible day. And in all the world, of all the music written over all the centuries set to the ancient liturgical text of the Requiem, guess whose music was chosen as saying what needed to be said for us all, in all our languages and cultures and beliefs?? Why of course, the Requiem setting of our own Brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We performed it here in Cleveland downtown, at the heart of the city, in the Cathedral of St. John The Divine, which is dedicated to one of the two "Holy Saints John" recognized by every Masonic Lodge. The Cathedral is not a small place, as we all know, but on that morning it was literally packed full, and with yet more people standing outside, to hear and be healed by the music set down by the sublime genius of our Masonic Brother, over 210 years ago. And, once again, nothing was mentioned of Mozart having been an active and devoted Mason.
The entire world needed a goodly dose of Mozart on that day of Remembrance, with its swirls of emotion, so many different emotions, feelings, and needs. The world also needs Freemasonry, now more than ever. The world needs Masonic leadership, Masonic values, Masonic integrity, Masonic charity, Masonic Hope - perhaps more so now than ever before in its history. We need to be there for the world, for each other, for our children, and for ourselves. I hope I will see many more of you here with us this fall, hearing again the Masonic message, and carrying the Light forth from our Masonic Auditorium into a world sorely in need of More Light. See you in a few weeks, my brothers - so mote it be.