Reverend George Wiskirchen, Father of Jazz Education
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The funds from the REP Grant were primarily used to conduct research on Fr. George Wiskirchen at the Congregation of Holy Cross Religious Order Archives located at Moreau Seminary in South Bend, Indiana, the University of Notre Dame Band Archives, and the main University of Notre Dame Archives. In addition, interviews were conducted with classmates from Fr. George's childhood in Quincy, Illinois, fellow seminarians from his days at both the Moreau Seminary at the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross Seminary in Washington DC, as well as former students and associates involved in his career. In 1995, in an article I wrote on Fr. George for the International Jazz Educators Journal, he stated that his interest in teaching jazz was a result of James Gillespie, a student in his first band program, who expressed interest in learning jazz. Through my research, I was able to locate and interview Mr. Gillpespie. In addition to playing in Fr. George first jazz band at Notre Dame High School, Jim also played under Fr. George in the Northwestern University Jazz Band. The Holy Cross Religious Order at the University of Notre Dame are very interested in my project and Reverend David Porterfield, the Assistant Superior at Holy Cross House, a retirement home for priests at the University of Notre Dame, was instrumental in helping me locate people from Fr. George’s past.