A woman from Hastings has been a season ticket holder with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra for more than 40 years.
She says her love of music has sparked a family tradition.
“The symphony and I are about the same age,” joked Ellen Whalen.
Ellen celebrated her 85th birthday earlier this month. Her Twin sister Helen McCulley was born 15 minutes earlier.
They grew up on a dairy farm in Hastings and made their own fun. Music played a big role. Their father played the violin and when the girls got older he encouraged them to take voice and piano lessons. That sparked Ellen’s passion for classical music.
“He played the violin. He liked to listen to good music, like classical music and some singers like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra,” Ellen said.
Ellen pursued that passion briefly in college and when she moved to Johnstown in the 1950’s she first heard the sounds of the symphony and began attending performances.
She also passed the love of music onto her children and grandchildren.
“We always had music going,” said June Whalen-Gonzalez, Ellen’s daughter.
“My brother would go back to play the trumpet and the dog would sit and howl the whole time. We’d take the dog out and she’d run right back in. We don’t know if she’s singing with him or complaining.”
Health issues prevent Ellen and Helen from playing instruments or singing, but they still enjoy listening to their favorite songs.
And they don’t plan on taking an intermission from that passion any time soon.