Upper St. Clair High School is located in Southwestern Pennsylvania in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. The community is an upscale one, filled with educated, cultured people who want the same for their children… a great thing for those of us that grew up there.
In 1969 a young graduate of Duquesne University and its famed Tamburitzans came to USCHS as the new choral director. Robert J. Gielas (“Bob” to his friends, “Mr. G.” to students) never once saw a group of untrained, untalented teenagers in front of him. He saw potentential… vast, untapped, professional potential in each and every student. And he expected that each of us rehearse, behave and perform as if we saw it, too. Some of those choir rehearsals felt more like boot camp, and we loved it. (Well, most of it.)
See, over the years, those that stuck with it didn’t just pretend to believe in the vision; we started to think of ourselves the way that Mr. G. saw us. He believed in us, and in return, we believed in ourselves. Each of us, in our own way, began to make what we learned in choir a part of who we were – and continue to be today. We all graduated from high school and moved on with our lives, but many of us remember our choir days as if they were just yesterday. And oddly enough, even those that weren’t in school at the same time feel a comaraderie, a kinship of sorts. Many actually did go on to become professional musicians. Some perform in local theater or church choirs. Probably all at least sing in the shower or car. Love for music is an incurable disease.
Which is why, in December of 2012, for the first time ever, all past members of the USCHS choral department were invited to a reunion weekend. It was part performance, part getting re-acquainted, and (mostly) a chance for all of us to thank Robert Gielas for the impact he made on our lives. It was the best reunion weekend ever, and far exceeded expectations… to the point that we’ve vowed to keep it going. In December 2013 we met again, this time with more of an emphasis on performance. We worked like crazy and put on a great show at St. Thomas Moore one cold, snowy Saturday evening. It was so much fun that we’re doing it again, bigger and better than ever (and in July to avoid the snow).
So, here’s our website. Our way of staying in touch and keeping on top of what’s going on. Over the next several months we’ll be adding all sorts of features to it. If you’ve ever sung in an Upper St. Clair High School choral group, under Mr. Gielas, Miss Milovac, Mr. Fox or any of the other amazing directors, this is for you; you’re part of the family. Welcome.