Feb. 3, 1959 is widely known as “The Day the Music Died” – the date that a plane carrying music legends Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson went down.
Here in Mercer County, “The Day the Music Died” could aptly be billed as today – May 4, 2014. Today marks the final appearance of Ed Groves as the director of the Shenango Valley Chorale.
When Groves leads the Chorale for a final time today at 2:30 p.m. at the Sharon First United Methodist Church, it marks the end of about 20 years of heading the outstanding choral group.
OK, realistically, music didn't die when the plane crash killed the national stars -- and it won't stop locally after Groves waves his baton for a final time.
But the loss here will certainly be noticed.
Groves truly will be missed. Under his guidance and leadership with passion, the Chorale and the associated Madrigal Singers have provided so many memorable performances that have entertained thousands throughout the years. What’s a Christmas holiday without the Chorale?
And while the Chorale will journey forward under new leadership, it will be a difficult chore to replace a man whose dedication to perfection is renowned.
Music has been his life.
A former Hickory High music teacher, he retired from the Hermitage School District in 1995. But for Groves, the beat went on.
Groves assumed the leadership of the Chorale a short time later and assembled a tremendous group of talent. But the 78-year-old director, who is an adjunct instructor of music at Westminster College, decided this year that it was time to reduce his workload.
He is going out with a bang. As he did Saturday, today he directs the Chorale in a performance of patriotic music. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing that helped bring an end to World War II. And it marks a century since World War I began in 1914.
It’s a gala show that includes accompaniment by 35 instrumentalists from the Westminster College Woodwind Ensemble, directed by Tad Greig.
Besides seeing a great performance, those who attend today’s show will have a chance to provide a fitting tribute to Mercer County’s own “Music Man.”
On behalf of all music lovers who have had a chance to witness the excellence provided by Groves for two decades, we’d love to yell – Encore, Encore!
But if the retirement from the Chorale lasts, we can only say – Thanks for the memories, Mr. Groves.