Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Vocational High School’

The Three Arts League’s Run at Jordan

February 3, 2010

When I mentioned the Three Arts League in the post about renovating the Jordan High auditorium, it triggered thoughts about the League and what it meant to Columbus.  It was founded in 1927 and ended in 1975, according to Joe Mahan’s history Columbus: Georgia’s Fall Line “Trading Town.   

Arthur Rubenstein, "one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century," according to an article in Wikipedia. Photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1937.


The League did indeed bring some really big names to the Jordan stage for a number of years.  The best source I could find about that was  Mrs. Francis Virgina Norman,  better known as Virginia Norman, daughter of the late Mrs. A. Illges, better known as Virginia Illges.  She was president of the League from 1949 to 1967, according to Dr. Mahan.  He wrote, “For many years the scheduling, local arrangements, and general excellence of these performances were managed by Mrs. A. Illeges.”  

I asked Mrs. Norman if she could remember when the League first started using Jordan’s auditorium, and the names of some of the big acts.  This is what she sent me via email: 

“Dick, I’m not certain when the Three Arts concerts first were held at Jordan.  Apparently years and years ago they were at the Springer for a time, then at Columbus High, but, for as long as I can remember going to them, and that’s a long time, they were at Jordan auditorium until 1964, when the old Royal Theatre was renovated and reopened as the Three Arts Theatre. ” The League had to have started using Jordan before 1949 because I remember getting to see a few of the shows in that auditorium, and I graduated in 1948.   I was among the Jordan students  who served as ushers for the League shows and concerts.    

Mrs. Norman also said, “Jordan had excellent acoustics and the sound was wonderful, except now and then when someone forgot to turn off the bells that signaled the beginning and ending of classes –  an unexpected addition to the music!
“These are some of the major artists who performed at Jordan auditorium.   
“Symphonies (some more than once) – the Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Atlanta
“Operas – Carmen, The Barber of Seville, Rigoletto. Romeo and Juliet, La Traviata
“Ballets – Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Agnes de Mille Dance Theatre, Ballet Espagnole, Chicago Opera Ballet
“Pianists – Arthur Rubinstein, Jose Iturbi, Jorge Bolet, Gina Bachauer, Byron Janis, Leonard Pennario, Vronsky and Babin
“Violinists – Yehudi Menhuin, Zino Francescatti, Erica Morini, Tossy Spivakovsky
“Cellist Gregor Piatagorsky
“Classical guitarist Andres Segovia
“Singers – Rise Stevens, Lauritz Melchior, Lily Pons, Jerome Hines, Blanche Thebom, Leanard Warren, Jussi Bjoerling, James Melton, Robert Shaw Chorale
“Actors – Claude Rains, Katherine Cornell, Brian Aherne” 

That is truly an impressive list.  These were some of the top artists in the world, and they performed on the Jordan stage.  Not only were those international stars on the Jordan stage, as well as the famous Bob Barr Jordan bands, but, thanks to Mrs. Illeges, the 20th century version of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra was organized, with Bob Barr as its conductor, and also played on the Jordan stage until the Three Arts Theater opened. And a few years ago when a Columbus Symphony Orchestra outdoor performance in Lake Bottom was rained out, it was moved to the Jordan auditorium, its old home.   As I said in the previous post, the Jordan auditorium has historical value.


December 7, 2008

  The music river keep abundently flowing in our area. Last night, we were moved by the great performance of the Three Irish Tenors at the Bill Heard Theater. Those guys are magnificent tenors and they just soared with the great Chritsmas and Irish classics.

  Now, it’s time to support our local folks and attending the Bob Barr Community Band 20th Anniversary Concert at Jordan High. I attended the last rehearsal for the concert and I believe you will enjoy it. 

  How special is it? Well, Conductor George Corradino told me, “Dick, the band will be wearing tuxes.”  Well, I guess I’ll have to break mine out so that when I emcee the concert, I’ll be in harmony with the band. I emceed the band’s very first concert 20th years ago so George asked me to do this one.

George Corradino rehearsing Bob Barr Community Band

George Corradino rehearsing Bob Barr Community Band

Bob Barr Community Band’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert, Monday, Dec. 8, 7:30 P.M. at Jordan High

December 2, 2008

  High School memories flowed into my consciousness last night as I listened to the Bob Barr Community Band rehearse for its twentieth anniversary concert. I was there because my old friend Dr. George Corradino asked me to emcee the concert since I emceed the very first one twenty years ago.

  The Bob Barr Community Band was formed in 1988 and named in honor of highly successful Jordan Vocational High School band director Bob Barr because of his legendary contributions to his students at Jordan between 1946 and 1962. His Jordan bands won national band contests in cities such as New York and Chicago. He was also conductor of the Columbus Symphony from 1951 to 1962.

  Hearing a band from the inside is different from out in the auditorium, especially when you are playing an instrument. It goes beyond verbal description, just as music does that. It’s emotional, just as music is emotional.  I took this picture because this is where I played a snare drum, and sometimes a set of drums, with the original Bob Barr Jordan Vocational High School Red Jacket Band sixty years ago. Well, actually we rehearsed on the stage of the school’s one-thousand-seat auditorium because this band room hadn’t been built yet. 

Bob Barr Community Band Rehearsal, Jordan High, Columbus, GA

Bob Barr Community Band Rehearsal, Jordan High, Columbus, GA

  It is an extraordinary experience because you are a part of the whole that produces what can be – if you do it well – extremely moving results as the band, or orchestra, releases the emotion of great composers such as Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Sousa, Gershwin and others.  I took this picture from the percussion section because that was where I experienced the unforgettable conducting of the demanding, but highly inspiring Bob Barr.

  Remembering this, I can understand why these former high school band students come together to play for community events. They simply enjoy doing what they enjoyed doing most in high school. And this band plays for a lot of community events. 

  Monday night’s Twentieth Anniversary Concert will be at the Jordan Vocational High School auditorium starting at 7:30. Admission is $5. All proceeds go to the current Jordan High band.  Not only will you hear popular Christmas songs like “Sleigh Ride,” “Ring of Joy,” and “Christmas Classics,” but an original composition by the late Bob Barr, as well as such favorite marches as “Them Basses” and “The Footlifter.”

  Again, it’s Monday, December 8, 2008 at 7:30 at Jordan High auditorium, admission $5, with procedes going to the current Jordan band. Hope to see you there.