History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Monday, April 3, 2017

Morris had a presence at 1964 New York World's Fair

The UMM men's chorus at the Fair, directed by Ralph E. Williams
I remember the wonderful atmosphere at the 1964 New York World's Fair. It's a bittersweet memory. America was on the cusp of the contentious stuff that would come to largely define the 1960s. You could not have guessed that any of that was in the offing. Boomers thus look back on that fair as a touchstone event.
How sad that the tranquility of that fair could not prevail or set the tone. So I'll look at it in isolation. The UMM music department was there. Our men's chorus shared its wonderful sounds. UMM itself was very young. But we had already been to another World's Fair in Seattle. The Seattle trip was in 1962 when the U.S. was worried about nukes in Cuba. Our travels served to elevate the presence of our fledgling liberal arts institution. I made the trip in 1964.
If I could change one thing, I'd like to have been equipped with a high-quality camera. Could I have handled this at age nine? I'd love to have tried. My, how those photos could be mined and shared online today. Back then, we heard names like Canon and Nikon in connection with high-quality cameras. There was a perception that such cameras cost a fortune.
I have heard that even high-end cameras had flash units that were challenged for anything but close-ups. So maybe it would have been tough getting the indoor performance shots. But in other situations, what a bonanza I might have.
You can hear the sounds of the early UMM men's chorus by clicking on this YouTube link. Thanks to Gulsvig Productions of Starbuck for getting this material online.
The New York World's Fair hailed itself as a "universal and international exposition." The theme was "peace through understanding." It was dedicated to "man's achievement on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe." We saw a showcase of mid-20th Century American culture and technology. The "space age" was a high-profile theme.
Over 51 million people attended. They saw what amounted to a grand consumer show. Many got their first interaction with computer equipment. Such equipment was kept in back offices away from the public. This was decades before the Internet and home computers were at everyone's disposal.
How I remember Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It was in that wondrous borough of Queens. The still-new New York Mets, still in their early mediocrity, played so close, they seemed like part of the Fair.
A reflective online piece proclaims "the world came to Queens."
"It came in a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors, fountains of dancing water and mouth-watering Belgian waffles."
The grand World's Fair of 1964 sought to nudge us toward optimism. I remember the inspiring, joyous sounds of our University of Minnesota-Morris men's chorus, directed by my late father Ralph E. Williams. Ralph left us four years ago. His legacy lives on both with the music he composed and the permanence he helped ensure of our UMM. I could use some of those Belgian waffles.
Click on this link to read a post I wrote in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Fair. It too reflects on the Morris experience. Thanks for reading.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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