Welcome to The Voice of Firestone. Not sure how many people would be interested in reading about this wonderful series but for me it was a labor of love. I researched through archives, tvguides and news listiings to get the information together from scratch. I love a challenge. The true artistry lies in the music and the performers and for me this was the definitive program with full orchestration, chorus and special operatic guests. Major tenors, bassos, baritones, sopranos, coloraturas, mezzo-sopranos and singers as well as ballet artists performed on this show.
Many times the program has been selected as the best classical musical program in the annual critics' polls conducted for Fame Magazine by Television Today and Motion Picture Daily. The 1958 Christmas program won the Christopher Awards for Frederick Heider, producer; Richard Dunlap, director; and Harold Flender and David Gregory, writers. The program also has received two Freedom Foundation Awards, and numerous other awards from such organizations as the American Legion Auxiliary and the General Federation of Women's Clubs.
Still another distinction occurred on January 20 when the Voice of Firestone presented a simulated telecast at the White House. The occasion was a State Dinner in honor of President and Senora Frondizi of Argentina for which President and Mrs. Eisenhower requested a typical North American program of classical and semi-classical music. The performance was the first such in the history of official While House entertainment. The program starred Rise Stevens and Brian Sullivan of the Metropolitan Opera. Oscar Shumsky, violinist, and was conducted by Wilfrid Pelletier.
Many hours of the program's time have been donated through the years for special tributes and public service messages about the activities and programs of such organizations as the National 4-H Clubs, Boy Scouts, Future Farmers of America, Red Cross, USD and other associations working to improve the health and welfare of the world's people.
Besides its guest artists, the Voice of Firestone has created stars of its own. On Monday evening, January 14. 1957, Frances Wyatt stepped from the chorus into the spotlight when she substituted for guest artist Patrice Munsel, who became ill a few hours before the show. Miss Wyatt's appearance was warmly praised by radio and television critics. By popular demand, she appeared as a star in her own right on a later broadcast.
In 1957 the Voice of Firestone took its first summer vacation in 28 years. The program returned to the air September 9, but on television alone. In September, 1958, the format of the program was changed. Instead of presenting all types of music on each show, classical, semi-classical and popular programs were presented in rotation, each featuring artists who were specialists in these respective fields of music.
The June 1, 1959, telecast of the Voice of Firestone ended its 31 years as one of America's outstanding radio and television programs. The program was withdrawn because no suitable network time was available.
On September 30, 1962, the new Voice of Firestone returns to weekly television. The format of the new program, to be on the air 52 weeks a year, will be a TV concert featuring music from the popular operas, operettas and the music America loves best; outstanding solo instrumentalists and singers; and leading dancers in the field of ballet and the contemporary dance.
The Firestone Orchestra was conducted under the direction of Howard Barlow. The Award winning program received accolades and offered viewers weekly classical and semi-classical concerts featuring celebrated vocalists and musicians.
"As each week brings you a new Firestone program, we hope your enjoyment may bring us all even closer together and that The 'Voice of Firestone' may always have a friendly echo in your memory." Those were the words spoken by Harvey C. Firestone each program.
YouTube has several of Voice of Firestone's performances by guests ranging from Robert Merrill, Rise Stevens, Roberta Peters, Eddy Arnold, Jeanette Macdonald and Jussi Bjorling. To name a few, their performances live on forever. Enjoy! and post a comment if you like.
Howard Barlow conductor of the Firestone Orchestra.