Formed by Laurier alumni by 2001, the WLU Alumni Choir celebrates their twenty-year anniversary this year ... but their roots go back much further, to a time when many of them were in the Waterloo Lutheran University Choir and the Wilfrid Laurier University Choir.
Take a trip back in time through this timeline, where choir members share photos and stories from 1960s up to the present day.
Read an article about the WLU Alumni Choir's history in the Spring 2021 edition of Campus Magazine.
The Waterloo University College Choir in front of the bus in 1959/60 with conductor Dr. Charles McClain. They became the Waterloo Lutheran University Choir in 1961.
The WLU Alumni Choir is called so to represent both Wilfrid Laurier University and Waterloo Lutheran University graduate members.
Left: From the "after party" of the 1966 Home Concert – Dr. Walter Kemp sticking his head out through the window!
Above: a concert in 1965/66.
The WLU Alumni Choir has allowed me to re-connect with choir friends from 1964 to 1970 and sing our music. Whenever we gather, it rekindles fond memories of our choir tours (1965–70), concerts and pub nights in Maryhill and Heidelberg (for free beer), formal functions on campus (the university and the seminary special convocations and events, Boar’s Head Dinners) and bolstering other choirs in the KW area for performances.
The university choir, as it was known, performed for special Lutheran church and university events in the Theatre-Auditorium or seminary, whenever needed as the university was a Lutheran church and semi-private university. What started out as choir concerts at local Lutheran churches evolved into a university promotion group. February Reading Week became a choir tour to churches and high schools across Ontario, Quebec and the northern States which drew students to Waterloo. Home towns of choir students became centres to visit for concerts and where we would sing the praises of a friendly liberal arts university. In 1973 when the university became fully provincially funded as Wilfrid Laurier University, the Music program grew and in 1976 the Faculty of Music became a reality. I believe the choir tours ended in their original format in 1977. The idea of local church concerts, dinners and high school visits must seem strange in 2021 but those that were there – with billeting, long bus rides, unloading music, gowns and later, instruments – it was a welcome break from classes and a chance to see parts of Canada and the United States. Ah, a simpler and slower time!
There was and always will remain a strong bond between WLU Alumni Choir choristers. The momentum of the choir continues and I enjoy the opportunity to sing at choir events like Mozart Mania, Messiah in May and other events as it keeps members of the choir in contact with both old and new musical friends.
Douglas Wells (BA ’68)
A CAPELLA CHOIR
The 1967 Home Concert after the Quebec tour.
There were the Christmas Concerts sung both on campus and at local churches, the carol-singing on the steps of City Hall. The most memorable event was the Boar’s Head Dinner which was held in the Theatre-Auditorium. The choir processed the Boar’s Head in, members of the football team served the student body and a great time was had by all. Then during Reading Week, the university sent the choir out on the road to promote the university. We would do concerts in high schools in the afternoon and then sing evening concerts in local Lutheran churches whose members billeted us. Tours took us down through Chatham/Windsor, east to Brockville and environs, to Montreal, to Valpariaso, Indiana and the University of Pittsburgh. So we covered all Faculties and reached out through music.
Kathy Mauer (BA ’72)
Cornell tour, 1965.
I enjoyed all my years at Waterloo Lutheran, but my fondest memories are of the University Choir. Probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I did in my four years at WLU was audition for the choir. I was a reasonably shy 17-year-old freshman and the thought of singing by myself terrified me. However, I steeled myself and went off to the audition (probably in 3C15). At the end, Dr. Kemp said that there was a place for me in the choir if I was willing to sing tenor! It had never crossed my mind that I was anything other than a soprano, but having put all the work into going to the audition, I eagerly said yes. I wasn't the only female tenor who joined the choir that year and there couldn't have been a more welcoming group than all the male tenors.
After graduation I lost track of WLU and my fellow choir members. Then some time in 2003 I got an email out of the blue asking if I were the Deborah Kuehnbaum who'd sung in the WLU choir in the 1960s, and that a group of old choristers had formed and were planning on putting on a concert to raise funds for a scholarship honouring our old friend Keith Knights. Within a few days of replying, I was thrilled to hear from two of my oldest friends from my choir days, and the rest is history.
The WLU Alumni Choir is extremely special to me, as I've rekindled old friendships and made many new ones that I'll always treasure. I've reconnected with the university through the choir and eagerly look forward to our Homecoming Weekend reunions.
Even though I graduated from the Business School, I'm a firm believer in the value of a liberal arts education to make a well-rounded person. Music is an essential part of this education, and life is better for having music in it.
Deborah Kuehnbaum (BA '70)