College Edition

In l972, I took another group, THE COLLEGE EDITION to Europe where we performed in Holland and all over Germany. This tour was very successful and when we had finished we had asked for a ‘Delay in Route’ for two weeks, during which time we were on our own financially and the group

had all saved money and we rented two orange colored VW buses, one camper and another regular bus. Before we left, we had sat night after night pouring over maps to see what would be the best itinerary for our two weeks. I told the group about all the things we could see all over Europe because at that time I had been several times on my own, and that since I had been everywhere that we could go, I wanted them to go where they wanted to. It was finally decided that we would go to Southern Germany (our USO tour ended in Frankfurt, which to my mind is the least interesting city in Europe) and we went South, through Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and then back to Frankfurt and they flew us home. Other than what the students bought for themselves (souvenirs), we had one of the fellows as our financial ‘bank’ and we each put in money for gas and food, etc., and when we got back to Frankfurt and figured up, I think that the two weeks trip had cost each of them about $94.00, and we had a marvelous time.

Sometime along about now my bosses wanted me to take over several other areas of my work in the Wilkinson Center–much of which was leadership training for the student body officers, so they sent the Sounds of Freedom and other groups to the Program Bureau, which was fine with me. I had wonderful years with the groups but knew that they should be under the Program Bureau. They struggled along for several years there, and the smaller groups fell by the wayside, but the Sounds continued on with various conductors–sometimes student directors. Janie often said she didn’t know what I had done to them to make them such a united group and so determined for excellence, but they just kept plodding along.

Then came 1975 and I was retiring from the University. The Sounds didn’t have a good director at the time so the director of the Program Bureau asked me if I would like to take them over for their big year of the U.S. Bi-Centennial of 1976. I thought it would be fun to do it, so I said I would.

This became a difficult year. We had great talent and I wanted the group–since I felt this would be their last year to have a great show. We began rehearsing and making plans and finally I had everything pretty much put together and I called a meeting of the group to present the program and narration to them. They all met at my place. From 50 we had in the group at the beginning, we were down to about 18 all told. I went though the program and the narration and only one of the group liked and they weren’t bashful in telling me so. The girl who had been in the group in the beginning group liked it. I knew it was a rough draft, but really hadn’t expected so much opposition. But, I re-wrote, re-planned and we went on rehearsing. We stated with the American Revolution and that phase of the show had a wonderful men’s quartet who sang ‘The Egg’ from the musical 1776, which was a hoot. We went from there to the Civil War and I found a beautiful arrangement of ‘Shenandoah’ for that section. When it came to the mid-west and South West I needed a change of pace from the melodious and lovely ‘Shenandoah’ and hunted and hunted and was wracking my brain for just the right song. One night after a fireside at my place, I mentioned my problem to our narrator and he told me of a song he had heard from a new musical and the minute he told me about, I knew it was the song I needed, ‘Next to Lovin’ I Like Fightin’ Best from Shenandoah. It became one of the hits of the show with a slow-motion ‘fight’ at the end.

Finally the show took shape and we were booked into the ‘in the round’ theater in Bountiful. The costumes weren’t all finished, the narration was still being honed down, and the cast were still dubious about the show, but we went ahead and did it and got 3 standing ovations–two during the show and one at the end. I knew we had made it. And the fellow who had been the most vocal about not liking the show came up to me afterward and said, “Klea, I was wrong. It’s going to go.” And it did. My narrator was one of three who auditioned for the part and I almost took another fellow who was just dying to get into the Sounds for our 1976 tours. But I took Mark Bahan and he turned out to be a jewel. Far above anything I had ever dreamed he could do. He came out in a different costume and a different voice for every section of the show and was tremendous. One fellow dropped out so we were able to take in the other fellow who auditioned and he was ecstatic.

In the show we went through the country piece by piece and ended the first half with a tribute to the 1960’s. For the last two number of the first half of the show, Mark came out as a ‘hippie’, with the slang and all, but after the first number of that kind, he came out again as a hippie, but then started talking normally about all the accomplishment of this decade, scientifically, medically, etc., and as he talked, he first took off his wig and threw it in the wings, ditto his beads, the fringed coat and there he stood in a modern suit and talked about the great thing that had taken place ending with out landing men on the moon. The group sang, ‘Climb Every Mountain’ and that was the end of the first half. The second half was filled with modern music and changes of costumes, etc. The show went very well, and we traveled from coast to coast. The Sounds of Freedom also sang on the old ‘Ed Sullivan Show’.

When the year was over they asked me if I wanted to continue on with the group, but I said I didn’t, that I was retired and wanted to take some different directions with my life. But I said I felt that since the country had been bombarded with patriotism during the USA Bi-Centennial, that I felt it was time for the Sounds to change their name. This they did the next Fall becoming a second Young Ambassadors and finally this past year, they cut it to one group of Young Ambassadors who are excellent.