An African beat

UWL Emeritus Director of Choral Music Studies Gary Walth with 1999 graduate Gwendolyn Anding during a visit in Africa. Walth was asked by his former student to conduct a choir of Southern and Eastern Africa schools.

Retired professor travels to Africa to conduct choir

A reunion in Africa was a special occasion for a retired UW-La Crosse music professor and a former student.

UWL’s Emeritus Director of Choral Music Studies, Gary Walth, and 1999 graduate Gwendolyn Anding enjoyed the reunion in Nairobi, Kenya, in February at the 2018 International Schools of Southern and Eastern Africa Band and Choir Festival.

Anding is the band and choir director at the International School of Kenya (ISK), which hosted the event. She also served as the festival’s director and coordinator. Anding invited Walth to conduct the festival choir of students selected from the choirs of the eight International Schools of Southern and Easter Africa (ISSEA) schools.

During the Feb. 24 performance, the 82-member choir performed six pieces representing several musical style periods and cultures. The choir’s portion of the concert ended with a performance of Walth’s arrangement of the spiritual “Wade In The Water.”

UWL Emeritus Director of Choral Music Studies Gary Walth directs a festival choir of students in Africa representing eight International Schools of Southern and Eastern Africa (ISSEA) schools.

Walth and Anding first met when Anding was a member of the UWL Women’s Chorus that Walth directed. “Although she was a talented French horn player, she was a very good singer and I recognized the potential she possessed as an excellent music teacher,” Walth recalls.

Anding graduated with a Bachelor of Science in education, with a K-12 instrumental music emphasis. She first taught in Oregon before moving to Chilé to teach. She is now receiving accolades as a music educator at the ISK in Nairobi. Anding also plays in the Nairobi Symphony Orchestra.

“One of the highlights of my experience in Kenya was to see Gwendolyn Anding, our UWL graduate, taking charge of this large festival and offering her musical expertise at this wonderful school, and as an orchestral musician in this metro-area in Eastern Africa,” says Walth.

Walth retired from the UWL Music Department in May 2017.