The Harlan Musettes celebrated their 70th anniversary June 20-21.
Friday night alumnae gathered in the Harlan Independent School’s choir room located in the Humanities building. The group practiced and then performed along with recent graduates and current choir members at the 2014 Harlan County Relay for Life. They sang “I Believe” and “Candle on the Water.”
On Saturday, the alumnae met in the sanctuary of the Harlan Baptist Church to rehearse for the afternoon concert. After refreshments, Musettes Director Marilyn Schraeder, presented candles that said “Home is where your story begins” to several alumnae, including past presidents, organizers of the reunion, charter member Ruby Layson (1945), Marilyn Unthank (1947) and Nancy Allison (1950). Leah Hollins, 2014 president, and Samantha Spurlock, 2015 president, also received candles.
Selections presented at the concert were “My Hometown,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” “I’ll Paint You a Rainbow” (commissioned for the 60th anniversary of the Musettes), “Preludium” from The Sound of Music, “The Mountains Are Calling Me Home,” “Home,” “You Raise Me Up,” “I Believe” and “The Alma Mater.” Clara Pope accompanied the choir.
“Mountain Star” was written in December in honor of Charlotte Nolan by Amelia Hollins Gagliano. The song “Mountain Star” was first performed at Nolan’s memorial service in May. Nolan was a charter member and strong supporter of the Harlan Musettes. Since she was “our mountain star,” the song was performed in memory of her at the alumnae concert. Performers included Amelia’s brother, Greg Hollins, mandolin; Greg’s niece, Hannah Busroe,vocalist; and a former student of Nolan, Michael Kelly, guitar.
Schraeder recognized Mary Catherine Surgener as the Musette Hall of Fame recipient. She presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a necklace. She also honored charter member, Ruby Layson and Marilyn Unthank with flowers and a necklace. Lisa Abraham and Luna Helton, representing the Harlan Alumni Association, presented Schraeder with a plaque inducting her into the Harlan Alumni Hall of Fame. Even though she didn’t graduate from Harlan High School, she has taught at the school for 45 years.
A candle was lit in memory of the deceased members and also the founder of the Musettes, Ailene Henderson, and directors, Howard Smith, Dessie Barlow White and Ed Minor. The concert concluded with the alumnae singing “Candle on the Water.”