THE URBACH START – OCTOBER 29 1946
Virginia Babikian becomes HSC Director, 1977-1986 . 21
, returned from her European singing engagements, appeared in that role in spring 1971.  It was really up to Don Strong to use his own leadership and that of his cohorts to accomplish the objective of building HSC
into the organization that it should be.
sang its solos.
retirement in 1986 Virginia Babikian
called this workshop and performance one of the two most memorable occasions of her
19 years of HSC leadership.  The Houston Post's review was headlined 'Symphony Chorale Sublime,' 
Virginia Babikian becomes HSC Director, 1977-1986
HSO management immediately appointed Virginia Babikian
to the post.
You will recall Virginia
as the soprano soloist in the Stokowski recording of Carmina Burana.
Virginia was a Professor of Voice and Artist in Residence at Houston Baptist University.
In 1982, during her HSC Directorship, she left HBU to become Professor of Music and Chairman of the Voice Department in the Shepard School of Music at Rice.
A single 'Associate' professional assisted her
, sharing the directing of combined rehearsals as well as directing sectionals.
Splitting into four sectionals was still feasible,  but was not as frequently done.
The Associates were Ray Witt (1977-78), John Burnett (1978-79), and then David Wehr (1979-86), who through long tenure became as identified with HSC
, like Don Strong, was a perfectionist, often hammering away at short phrases.
This writer would often marvel at her
demonstrations for the soprano section. (The women's sections were studded with Virginia's
own vocal students, to HSC's advantage.) We were drilled and re-drilled on the "schwa" sound, both for English and German, Virginia's
HSC directorship was made more complicated as Maestro Foster resigned in 1978.
quietly explained to us, "When in doubt, follow the Concertmaster, who is actually leading the orchestra.
counted his Brahms Requiem concert series as one of her all time favorites.  Many hoped that Bergel would become the permanent maestro - but that was not to be.
, and later Charles Hausmann, had difficulties reaching and communicating with Comissiona prior to piano rehearsals to ferret out tempo, dynamics, and phrasing.  So piano rehearsals often contained surprises!
This was a repeat performance of A Child of our Time - when sung in November 1977 it was the first work that HSC
prepared under Babikian
In 2005 HSC
included its arrangements of African-American spirituals on our all-choral CD.
No choral singer is complete until he
has participated in the pathos and redemption of this moving work.
In these circumstances, Babikian
was forced to relax the Chorus's own attendance standards (more than three absences and you are out) - a relaxing that was very irritating to loyalists who faithfully maintained their attendance.
Attrition during concert sequences (people beginning rehearsals on a work, but dropping out before concert time) rose. 
Lax communication of Symphony management to the Chorus staff.
Frequent last-minute changes of rehearsal location because of Jones Hall rehearsal-room preemption.
Poor communication with conductors. (Choristers arriving on schedule, only to twiddle their thumbs as a conductor rehearsed the orchestra was extremely irritating.)
A perception on the part of some that our director Babikian was not standing up for us with HSO management.
Throughout this problem time, Babikian
was the consummate team player.
Encouraging us, cajoling us, she
kept to herself whatever communications she
was making about the problems to HSO management.
The leadership of Virginia Babikian
was fully affirmed.
Hausmann also joins Urbach, Strong and Babikian (all described above) in bewailing the debilitating consequences of in-season attrition.
The surest evidence was Virginia Babikian
's own words.  Chorus numbers were depleted - Comissiona gave Hausmann
'marching orders' to increase them.  But, as in 1969 under Don Strong, while the increase was under way it was more difficult to raise the quality of the singing.
· Virginia Babikian
used all-day sessions at Columbia Lakes Conference Center to accelerate learning of summer festival repertoire.
Prepared once by Babikian
and then by Hausmann
participated 1986-92, excepting 1987.
Here are the known deceased, with dates of death: Virginia Babikian (Mar 22 1997), John Barbirolli (Jul 29 1970), Wayne Bedford (May 30 1969), Sergiu Comissiona (March 5 2005), Ferenc Fricsay (Feb 20 1963), Sir Alexander Gibson (Jan 14 1995), Sandy Graf (2000 or 2001), Rebecca May Groh (Mar 2 2000), Clyde Hager (1974-75), C. William Harwood (April 26 1984), Margaret Hillis (1998), Maurice Hirsch (Aug 6, 1983), Ernst Hoffman (Jan 3 1955), Earle Jensen (Feb 1 2004), Efrem Kurtz (Jun 27 1995), Arline Lasater (May 22 1998), Gene Lasater (Mar 20 1999), Carl Orff (Mar 29 1982), Robert Shaw (Jan 25 1999), Lee Stevens (Nov 25 1999), Leopold Stokowski (Sept 13 1977), Don Strong (Sep 17 2002), Sir Michael Tippett (Jan 8 1998), Al Urbach (Apr 18 1998), Roger Wagner (Sep 17 1992), Jorge Velazco (Jul 2003), Elizabeth (Beth) Webb, Howard F. Webb, Richard Westenberg (Feb 20 2008).
During the Houston Symphony Chorale directorship of Virginia Babikian
A condensed version was distributed a year earlier, at the retirement banquet for Virginia Babikian
and David Wehr.
 Virginia Babikian
to Tony Sessions, personal communication.
During that summer Virginia
scheduled three all-day rehearsals at Columbia Lakes Conference Center.
 Virginia Babikian
to David Nussmann, spoken without prompting on two private occasions prior to 1985.
particularly lamented the decline of the ensemble sound of her
 If all of her service is included, Virginia Babikian
's 17 years will rank just behind Urbach and Hausmann