Hiram College

Lakeview cemetary

The Hiram College chamber choir, known as the “Hi-Notes,” conducted by Hiram Music Department Chair Dawn Sonntag, D.M.A., performed at Lake View Cemetery’s Wade Memorial Chapel as part of a holiday program on Dec. 20, 2015. The Cemetery is home to the James A. Garfield Monument. The 20th president of the U.S., James A. Garfield attended Hiram College and served as its highest leader when it was known as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute.

Accompanied by Hiram faculty Ben Dague on classical guitar and Matt Salvaggio on flute, the choir performed “The Cherry Tree Carol,” among other selections, and led the audience in a sing-along of classic carols.

The Hi-Notes were also part of Lake View’s Nov. 14 Wreath-Laying Ceremony honoring President Garfield. There, the choir performed a hymn called “Ho! Reapers of Life’s Harvest,” which was sung at Garfield’s funeral and is said to be his favorite hymn, and an original composition of Sonntag’s called “Fiat Lux.” The homage to Garfield was especially significant for one member of the choir, Edward Garfield ‘18 who is a descendant of the former president.

Watch a video of the Wreath Laying Ceremony with audio of the choir performance.

“The Garfield Monument is a testament to how important James A. Garfield was, despite his short life,” said Sonntag.

Sonntag met with Lake View Cemetery Foundation Executive Director Judy Comeau-Hart to discuss the holiday program and view the venue. As the two were at the Garfield Monument, Sonntag mentioned that it would be a great place for the choir to sing, so Comeau-Hart invited the Hi-Notes to perform at the Wreath-Laying Ceremony too. 

“I was proud of how seriously the students took preparing for this event and of the professional and polite manner in which they presented themselves,” said Sonntag of the November performance. “That made a very good impression.”

Hiram Choir at Wade Chapel 1

Off-campus performances like the ones at Lake View are nothing new for the Hi-Notes.

“I have taken a choral group to perform holiday music at historic Cleveland churches several times in past years, so that is a tradition I had already started,” said Sonntag. “But this event is well-publicized, so it lets the Cleveland-area public know about Hiram College’s music program, and it gives students an opportunity to perform in a visually and acoustically beautiful setting.”

About Lake View Cemetery

Founded in 1869 on 285 acres spanning Cleveland, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, Lake View Cemetery integrates landscapes with sculptures and architecture. Influenced by the Victorian era garden cemeteries of England and France, Lake View is the final resting place of great civic, social and cultural leaders.

The Lake View Cemetery Foundation, a nonprofit organization, works to maintain, preserve and enhance the historically significant buildings, monuments, botanical gardens and landscapes of the Cemetery and offers a variety of tours and educational events, April through early November.