Wa-li-Ro operated 1933 to the mid-1970s. It was one of a number of choir summer camps established in the US and England at that time. Wa-Li-Ro was named for the current Bishop of Northern Ohio that year, The Rt. Rev. Warren Lincoln Rogers who had the dream of a choir camp which was established on South Bass Island for Episcopal and Anglican choristers. Thousands of boys participated in the camp that honed their skills as choristers over the years. Their choir practice took place at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The boys walked to the church from their dormitory to practice twice each day.
Boys would come from all over the United States to attend the camp. Many stayed for up to four weeks. In later years, there was a week set aside for girl choristers as well. In addition to the singing the boys spent time canoeing, fishing, swimming and hiking.
The front porch of the dormitory is now the outdoor seating area for a local ice cream shop (the dormitory house is not there any more.) While staying in the dorm, the boys were assigned chores including waiting on the tables in the dorm and moving the grass.
Wa-Li-Ro was led by many well known composers, choir directors and musicians. Directors included representatives from the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), one of these was Gerald Knight who was the director of the RSCM 1952 to 1972. (His records are located at the Colles Reference Library on the close of Salisbury Cathedral)
Founded in 1933 by Dr. Paul Beymer, who was the director for many years, and later managed and led by his Assistant, Warren Miller, Wa Li Ro (named for the current Bishop of Northern Ohio that year, Warren Lincoln Rogers)
Leo Sowerby (May 1, 1895–July 7, 1968) made regular trips to the came for many years. Sowerby was an American composer and church musician, was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1946, Each year he wrote an anthem for Wa-Li-Ro. “Themes and Variations (Wa-Li-Ro) H-472 is an organ solo piece still being played (but the music is difficult to locate!) . Sowerby died in Port Clinton Ohio during one of his visits to the Wa-Li-Ro camp.
Reference: Behold, what manner of love: written by Leo Sowerby
Publisher: New York: H.W. Gray Co., Agents for Novello & Co., London, ©1961. (See Church Music Review, no. 2699.) Musical score OCLC Number: 3775818
Notes: For Wa-Li-Ro. I John XXX, v.1-3,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God by Leo Sowerby
Publisher: New York: H.W. Gray Co., Agents for Novello & Co., London, ©1966. see Church Music Review, no. 2928. OCLC Number: 3775725
Notes: For Camp Wa-Li-Ro. From Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and Numbers 15:40 (alt.).
Theme and variations : (“Wa-li-ro”) : organ solo, H. 472
Author: Leo Sowerby; Ronald C Rice
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minn. : Randall M. Egan, ©1995.
Series: Egan edition; Leo Sowerby Foundation editions., Egan organ ;, #ES-1002.