Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts™ State College, Pennsylvania
July 12-15, 2012 ~ Children and Youth Day July 11, 2012
Historic Films At The Arts Festival
This year the Arts Festival is proud to present two historic films with the cooperation of Penn State University Libraries Special Collections Library and the State Theatre. Both films star Penn State Distingished Alumnus and Trustee Fred Waring—also known as “the man who taught America to sing.”
Fred Waring was born in Tyrone, Pennsylvania in 1900, and was a Distinguished Alumnus and Trustee of Penn State University. Along with his group, the Pennsylvanians, he toured the United States and the world for almost seven decades, building an impressive list of accomplishments in stage, radio, motion pictures, television and music education.
The Waring collection at Penn State, known as Fred Waring’s America, is a unique archive that serves as a rich source of primary source material on 20th century American popular culture for researchers from Penn State and around the world, including musicians and music educators, orchestra and choral conductors, documentary filmmakers, golden-age radio enthusiasts and media and cultural historians.
During a long and varied career, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians entertained audiences throughout the world on stage, radio, television, records and in motion pictures. They began as the rage of the post-World War I collegiate era; they made some of the first and best of Hollywood’s musical sound films; they introduced historic techniques and original performing ideas to network radio in the 1930s and early 1940s; they produced recordings that have become classics, unequalled in choral beauty; they presented to America’s TV viewers in the late 1940s through the 1950s the first of the musical spectaculars.
Preview these wonderful films!
Syncopation centers on a pair of vaudevillians who are quite close on and off the stage until a dashing millionaire comes around and begins wooing the female partner. She too is smitten and begins to pick and needle her partner about his faults. Eventually she dumps him, but it is not too long before the two are reunited and continue to make beautiful music together. Based on the novel, Stepping High by Gene Markey, this musical stars Barbara Bennett, Bobby Watson, Morton Downey, Dorothy Lee, and the music of Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.
Waring’s Pennsylvanians received top billing for the film. It was publicized as the “first mammoth all-talking screen extravaganza featuring the world’s greatest band making their film debut in a spectacular musical drama!”
In Varsity Show, Winfield College students, trying to put together the annual varsity show, come into conflict with their faculty adviser. Their advisor is a stodgy old professor whose ideas are hopelessly out of date, and who won't even let the new "swing" music be played in the show. They decide to get a hold of a former student who is now a big Broadway star and have him direct their show. What they don't know is that this "star's" last three shows were big flops.
The story behind the film is as important as the film itself. In 1937, when Fred Waring was approached to play a starring role in this film, he brought his famous glee club, the Pennsylvanians, to the shoot and planned on using the college glee club from Pomona College ("Winfield College" in the movie) for additional singers. When Mr. Waring arrived at the campus he found the Glee Club conductor was ill but his replacement was a young, energetic young man named Robert Shaw. After the movie was finished, Robert Shaw followed Fred Waring to New York. There, Mr. Shaw founded the Collegiate Chorale and the Robert Shaw Chorale and went on to be one of the most important personalities in American choral music in the 20th century.