Pioneering jazz educator Father Wiskirchen dies

Author: Michael O. Garvey


Rev. George C. Wiskirchen, C.S.C., died May 17 (Tuesday) atSt. JosephRegionalMedicalCenter,South Bend.BornOct. 14, 1928inQuincy,Ill., he entered the Congregation of Holy Cross at Notre Dame in 1948, was graduated from the University in 1951, studied theology atHolyCrossCollegeinWashington,D.C.and was ordained to the priesthood onJune 8, 1955.

One of the founding faculty members of theNotre DameHigh Schoolfor Boys inNiles,Ill., Father Wiskirchen spent 17 years there, teaching religion and music, establishing the band program, and earning a national reputation as a pioneer in high school jazz education.His work with the Notre Dame High School Jazz Band, the Melodons, was applauded in the pages of the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Down Beat magazine and by leading jazz artists and critics nationwide.During his years atNotre DameHigh School, he earned a masters degree in musical education fromNorthwesternUniversityand soon became an instructor in jazz education and director of Northwesterns Jazz Workshop.He also was a visiting instructor at the Eastman School of Music and theUniversityofDenver.

In 1972, Father Wiskirchen returned to Notre Dame to teach music, serve as a residence hall rector, direct the Universitys jazz band and assist in the direction of the marching band.

He retired in 2002, moving to Holy Cross House, the retirement home for Holy Cross priests on the Notre Dame campus.Since then the Notre Dame marching band has prepared for each football season by marching to Holy Cross House to play for the men living there.

Visitation for Father Wiskirchen will be held from3:30 p.m.to9 p.m.Sunday (May 22) in the Chapel of Moreau Seminary with a wake service at7:30 pm.A funeral Mass will be celebrated at3:30 p.m.Monday (May 23).

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