Ebba Goranson and her brother, Arthur, had a vision to bring music into Jamestown High School.
In 1924, they created the A Capella Choir, Orchestra and Band programs. For years, their time and talents to their students, serving as music directors at the high school well into the 1930s and 1940s.
Inspired by their commitment, not only to the high school, but the entire Jamestown community, brothers Donald and James King, established an endowment fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to provide annual support to the high school’s music department.
A 1944 graduate of JHS, Donald studied trumpet under Arthur from the age of 9 through high school. He also participated in the orchestra and choir. When World War II began, Donald remembers the Goransons’ way of supporting local servicemen.
“Together, Arthur and Ebba brought together music groups to perform,” Donald said. “For four years, they would see draftees off and greet them when they returned at the train station in Jamestown.”
In 1967, the bandshell at Allen Park was dedicated to honor Ebba and Arthur for their hard work implementing choral and instrumental music into the Jamestown Public Schools.
Today, a new generation of students and instructors continue the Goransons’ legacy in Jamestown, while still honoring those that came before them.
One of the traditions started by the Goransons is The Vespers, a community musical concert by the high school A Capella Choir during the holiday season.
“(The Vespers) is something that this community has recognized as the kind of start of the holiday season,” Norm Lydell, A Capella Choir director told The Post-Journal in 2017.
During this performance, the roughly 75-member choir wears ecumenical robes, as per tradition.
“Most choirs don’t wear robes any longer, but it is a part of our tradition and we have been wearing the same style since 1924,” Lydell said.
Over the past 90 years, there have been a number of incredibly talented individuals working to continue the Goranson’s music legacy in Jamestown. In addition to Lydell, some of those individuals include Charles Jacobson, Brian Bogey, Lou Deppas and Jamie Sigler.
Currently, the Jamestown High School Band is directed by Meghan Murray, a 2001 JHS graduate and former band member, who has led the Marching Band to back to back state championships in 2014 and 2015.
Every gift creates a story. This story was inspired by gifts to The Donald West and James Wilson King Spring Concert Endowment Fund.
For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.