Alumnus Brings Musical Legacy to Life

August 21, 2014 | Rachel Wood

A box of reel-to-reel audio tapes sits untouched in a forgotten closet. Crisp, typewritten letters read “Pacific Union College, 1962” and “Walla Walla College, 1966,” identifying a collection of musical efforts by choir conductor and musician Harold Lickey.

It was August 2013 when Ed Karlow, a 1966 Walla Walla University (WWU) graduate and former student of Lickey, decided to drive to Portland, Ore., to join in the celebrations of Lickey’s 89th birthday.

They hadn’t seen each other in more than 40 years. Once he arrived, Karlow met Lickey’s daughter, Robin Thomas. She took him to see Lickey, and they visited for a while, reminiscing about Lickey’s days at Pacific Union College (PUC) in Angwin, Calif., and at WWU.

Karlow first met Lickey at PUC in 1961, and by 1965 they were both at WWU — Lickey as a member of the music faculty and choir director and Karlow as a senior in physics.

Lickey spent 14 years teaching at WWU, conducting the Schola Cantorum (now known as I Cantori), the Concert Choir and the Reunion Choir during alumni weekends.

After his arrival at WWU, Lickey worked with Glenn Spring and created the Spring Holiday Concert, an informal musical tour of Europe. Lickey hosted as the entertaining master of ceremonies.

Karlow enjoyed the event, saying, “I still remember the final whoop of excitement as the chorus left the stage after the final curtain call.”

Lickey realized the importance of capturing these memories and meticulously recorded every Music Department performance on about 100 reel-to-reel tapes.

Thomas mentioned that her father had several boxes of reel-to-reel tapes. They could not listen to them because they lacked the proper equipment. Karlow told her he had the equipment and software necessary to transform the tapes into remastered CDs. He offered to remaster the recordings for her family, and she agreed.

“I undertook this project to transform these reel-to-reel tape recordings into a format that people could use today and provide a way to archive the history of the outstanding and beautiful performances, and preserve the legacy of one of our finest musicians,” Karlow says.

If you performed at or attended the 1966 Spring Holiday Concert, Karlow would love to hear about your memories of that concert to include in a special companion booklet with the CD collection. Please contact him at 509-526-5441, or 1550 Gray Lynn Dr., Walla Walla, WA 99362.