Directed by Hugh M. Ellison
The choral division of the LHS Music Department states as its primary objectives "To introduce students to as much fine, artistic music as possible and to impart a better understanding of the dignity and Godliness of man through the study of His musical creations."
...from 1960 annual
The Littlefield High School Boys Choir was composed of boys in 9th through 12th grades. Although members were accepted from any of those grades, with or without previous choir experience, there was a required audition by Director Ellison. It was quite simple, however, and in many cases he allowed prospective members to do their audition with another member of the choir helping to read the parts.
Some of the boys already had two years of choir experience before they became members, since the Littlefield choral program actually started in 7th grade. The boys who had begun choir back then were the natural leaders and, of course, also the ones who set good examples both in music and in behavior.
Another somewhat unusual thing about the LHS Boys Choir was that several of the boys were the school's better athletes, playing "first string" on the football team. These fellows would actually beg and plead with Mr. Ellison to do certain Brahms motets when he would threaten to "pull" them from a concert!
All members of the Boys Choir were also in the A Cappella Choir. Those two choirs, in addition to the Girls Choir, participated each year in Texas Interscholastic League competition. "UIL Contest" in the 60s was much the same as it is today for present Texas choirs-- composed of concert ratings given on three pieces performed before a panel of three adjudicators. The second part of the events was sight-reading. In Littlefield, during those years, bands and choirs were *expected* to come home with "Sweepstakes" which meant a Division I rating in both events for choirs and in a third competition for bands (in marching). A choir or band director who didn't do well at "Contest", many times found himself "searching for a new situation" during the summer! Today that seems to happen only with coaches.
Another change from then to now is that the LHS Boys Choir did mostly "serious" music, unlike the "show tunes" and other lighter material which many choirs do today. They also sang in several languages. In that respect, it was as much a Music Appreciation course as it was a choir. But even today, Texas requires school choirs to sing from an approved "list"-- that serves to at least give today's boys a taste of the classics.
Hugh M. Ellison
A native of Harrell, Arkansas, Hugh M. Ellison was hired by the Littlefield Independent School District in 1955. At the time of his directorship over the Littlefield Junior and High School choral programs, he had both bachelor's and master's degrees from North Texas State College in Denton, Texas. At the end of each school day he drove a school bus to help supplement his income.
The 1960 yearbook stated, "Mr. Ellison has an active dislike for people who substitute prejudice and superstition for truth and logic."
Ellison practiced what he preached: When his A Cappella choir went on an East Texas tour in 1960, he would lead his students to another restaurant if told that the first choice would not allow the choir's two Black members inside. In Denton, faced with no other housing choice than the Denton Hotel, he found the two singers lodging with a Black minister's family.
Note: The boy in the second row from the top, extreme right is my friend, Gene Bitner, webmaster of "Almost Angels." Gene served two years in the Littlefield High School Boys Choir and A Cappella Choir.
Hugh Marr Ellison
Hugh Marr Ellison, 91, of Arlington, TX and formerly of Stephenville, TX died Wednesday, July 15, 2015, in Arlington.
Hugh was born in Harrell, Arkansas to Hugh Caldwell and Helen Marr Pounders Ellison. He married Marilyn Sue Glass on Aug. 20, 1955 in Dallas. She preceded him in death on April 18, 2010.
Hugh received his BS degree in business administration, and a BS and masterís degrees in music.
He was a school teacher at various schools in El Paso, San Benito, Littlefield, Midland and Cal State Fullerton University.
The schools where he taught received numerous awards in music excellence.
Hugh served his country in the U.S. Navy during WWII.
The Littlefield High School Boys' Choir
Directed by Hugh Ellison
Note: This recording was made on an Ampex (mono) reel-
to-reel in the high school auditorium. It was
transferred to vinyl by Century Record Company
of Sagus, California.
Material for this page was furnished by Gene Bitner, Amarillo, Texas
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This page was last modified on 22 July 2015