Alamo Heights High School Choir

During the six month run of the Fair the choir students from Alamo Heights H.S. were on hand to greet forigen dignitatries and were part of many national day events.

In August of 2012 I had the pleasure of corresponding by e-mail with Charles Snyder who was the Head of the Special Events Dept. for San Antonio Fair, Inc. below are his memories about the choir:

“Early on, when we were formulating our calendar of events well before the Fair opened, I ran across a single paragraph item in the paper that the chorus of Alamo Heights High School had learned the anthems of both Mexico and Guatemala, in anticipation of a visit to the school of a delegation of educators from those two countries. The thought occurred to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have the anthems of each participating nation sung on their national day, for the VIP from that nation?’ They’d be expecting the usual honors of course, flag raising, anthem played by a military band, etc., but not the singing. My assistant at the Fair had a degree in music, and I had some vocal musical background, so we went to the school and auditioned the chorus – they were wonderful. So we made a proposal to their director, Harold Greenlee: Would the chorus be interest in taking on a project of learning the anthems of the participating nations, and singing it – unannounced – at the celebration of that nation’s day at the Fair?

They decided ‘yes,’ and launched the project, which meant requesting the music for the anthem from each embassy in Washington. Some were received already arranged, but some were furnished with the melody line on one sheet and the words on another. Poor Mr. Greenlee had to match the two as best he could, then arrange it for four parts for the chorus.

They stayed organized and rehearsed all through the summer, made uniforms for themselves, and learned some of the anthems phonetically by rote. The upshot was that during the course of the Fair, the chorus sang the national anthems of twenty-two nations, in nine different languages.

One of the most memorable was the first one they did, Italy’s National Day. The visiting VIP was a descendant of General Garibaldi, father of modern-day Italy. It was also Alamo Heights High’s day at the Fair so, after the official ceremonies at the flag plaza, no one took any notice of the gang (these days, the ‘Flashmob,’) of high school kids in cutoffs, etc. outside Italy’s pavilion as the official party arrived by electric carts. As they started into the building, I gave Mr. Greenlee the cue and they sang Italy’s anthem. Garibaldi froze in mid-step, and tears started down his cheek. When the Chorus finished, Gov. John Connally, Commissioner General of the Fair, insisted that everyone get back on the carts and the whole thing be reenacted for the TV cameras. The commissioner of the Italian pavilion was so impressed the chorus had to come to the pavilion and sing the anthem every time they were on the grounds.

The chorus also song a concert of foreign Christmas music on August 24 and 25 (which we observed as Christmas at HemiFair, since we’d be closed in December). They also sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as the national flags were being lowered on Closing Day.”

Charles Snyder, 2012