Phil Buch, who has directed the Wausau West High School choir program for the past 30 years, told the Daily Herald Media he was called into a meeting last Thursday with administrators during which he was given three options for The Master Singers’ upcoming Christmas performances: perform five secular songs for every religious one, sing no Christmas music at all, or postpone any winter concerts until after December. Buch rebuffed the restrictions and disbanded the choir in protest.
Traditionally, The Master Singers (TMS) perform not only a school Christmas concert, but at several outside venues during the holiday season, including shows for businesses, civic groups, and nursing homes. An attorney recently hired by the school district holds that these performances are too close to “caroling” and thus violate the separation of church and state.
After the news broke Friday, the newspaper received hundreds of online comments and letters from local residents and former TMS choir members, the vast majority of which supported Buch and expressed disgust with the district’s effort to dictate the choir’s Christmas music choices. Simultaneously, 15 elementary schools in the county district jointly canceled their Christmas concerts.