GALLIPOLIS — The Ariel Opera House is gearing for a pair of events to be held April 22 in honor of Gallipolis pop culture reporter Oscar Odd McIntyre.
A concert featuring music composed by McIntyre friend Meredith Wilson will be held at 7:30 p.m. with The Ohio Valley Symphony and visiting author R. Scott Williams will speak at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the history of McIntyre’s rise to fame as one of the first syndicated columnists and pop culture reporters in the US. Gallia native Phillip Armstrong is anticipated to sing at the event as well.
“It fits well because McIntyre used a saying about himself saying a local made good,” said Ariel Executive Director Lora Snow. “Phillip is just that kind of person.”
Armstrong’s love of music reportedly began as a young child when he would sing the National Anthem at local football and basketball games. He was eventually awarded two full-time presidential scholarships to Shenandoah College and the Conservatory of Music in Virginia and Central State University. Armstrong has also earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Akron. He has recorded with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and served as a member with the Central State University Singers. Armstrong is originally from Bidwell.
“An Odd Book: How the First Modern Pop Culture Reporter Conquered New York” was written by Williams as a biography of the reporter’s endeavors.
McIntyre, raised in Gallipolis, would go on to befriend Meredith Willson, a composer known for musicals like “The Music Man” and songs like “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”
Willson eventually wrote what was titled as the O.O. McIntyre Suite with songs titled “Thingumbobs,” “Thots While Strolling, “Sunday Night in Gallipolis” and more.
“Years ago, Barbi Epling gave me some sheet music and it was called The O.O McIntyre Suite,” said Snow. “A suite is a collection of often dances and other things. It was just piano music but down at the bottom it said it was transcribed from the orchestral suite. I thought great, we have an orchestra. I searched all over and I couldn’t find it. I called all kinds of publishers, all kinds of music libraries and major orchestras and studios. Anybody I could think of.”
Paul Whiteman’s orchestra would eventually premiere the suite in 1934. Whiteman was known for being a popular dance band leader during the 20s and 30s.
Snow would eventually find the suite as part of the Williams College Whiteman Collection in Pennsylvania and requested copies to use for upcoming performances. “Sunday Night in Gallipolis” was commissioned by Willson after Whiteman requested it be added to the suite. According to a letter by Willson, the piece was meant to convey the image of a little girl playing “Chop Sticks” as her sole musical piece as entertainment during a Sunday night parlor gathering, of which McIntyre reportedly enjoyed as an activity.
Book author Williams serves as the senior vice president of sales and marketing as well as chief operating officer of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. He possesses a journalism degree from the University of Memphis.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.