University of Michigan Men's Glee Club

The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club

The Key, the club's official logo
Background information
Origin Ann Arbor, Michigan, US

The University of Michigan Men's Glee Club is an all-male glee club (or choir) at the University of Michigan.[1] With roots tracing back to 1859,[2] it is the second oldest glee club in the United States and is the oldest student organization at the university. The club has won the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod on four separate occasions.[3][4] Since 2011, the Club's musical director has been Eugene Rogers who has continued to expand the Club's repertoire and arranged performances.

The origins of the club stem from a variety of groups that came together in 1876. After a number of years including banjo and mandolin players in the club, it reverted to simply a vocal group by the mid-1920s. It received a substantial rise in profile under the directory of Philip Duey in the 1950s, who organised national, then international tours, and numerous television appearances. Since then, the club has continued to tour internationally at high-profile venues.

The club is entirely managed by students, except for the musical director, taken from the university staff. It has a number of traditions, including the practice of snapping fingers instead of clapping.


The club is a student-managed organization, which undertakes all management facilities,[5] including all finances and tour arrangements. Only the musical director is a member of the faculty.[6] It accepts members from both undergraduates and graduates of the university, who are chosen by audition. Membership is made up of the majority of the university's 17 colleges.[7]

The group is composed of about 100 singers from several of the schools and colleges at the University of Michigan. They perform repertoire ranging from music of the Renaissance to African-American spirituals.[8] Their official motto is "In Tradition, Camaraderie, and Musical Excellence".[6]

A number of traditions are upheld and recognised by choristers. Club members snap their fingers instead of clapping at each other's achievements (i.e. a good performance on a solo) because it is more difficult to clap with one's music in the other hand.[9] The club hosts a banquet every spring where awards are presented.[10]


Incarnations and early tours

Originally, there were individual Glee Clubs consisting of ten to twenty members, arranged by graduating class. The current framework of a cross-college club started with eight members in 1876, doubling to sixteen in 1877.[11] Amongst their early repertoire included numbers written by Fred Newton Scott.[12] In the 1890s, the organisation gained a banjo and mandolin club, [13][11] causing the name to temporarily change to the University Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin Club. A Freshmen Glee Club was active during the 1890s and 1900s.[11]

In the early twentieth century, the club held operas to help raise funds to build the Michigan Union. Because the club was male-only, all female parts were played by men. Several popular songs performed by the club, like "The Bum Army" and "Ann Arbor Days", were written during this time.[14]

In 1908, the club began to be led by the university faculty, although its official history still notes that this was merely an "advisory" role for over a decade later.[15] By 1914, the club included two other groups; the Varsity Quartette and the Midnight Sons, which allowed singers to tackle barbershop and similar music requiring less singers.[16]

The "Banjo" was dropped from the name in 1905,[11] and "Mandolin" in 1923, after which the group concentrated on vocal performances without instrumentation, becoming the University of Michigan Glee Club.[17][18] The group was renamed the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club in 1938, in reference to a Women's Glee Club that had gained popularity during the 1930s, and between 1944 and 1948 was briefly known as the University of Michigan Varsity Club.[14]

For most of the twentieth century, the club toured locally around Michigan, but did tour across other US states in 1926 and 1941. World War II prevented any touring, which did not resume until 1947.[14]

The Duey years and later tours

Philip Duey took over conducting duties in 1947[19] and began increasing the Club's profile with radio and television performances.[20] In 1947, the group started recording numbers, including "The Friar's Song" and "'Tis of Michigan We Sing" to be broadcast on local radio.[21] In the fall of 1951, the Glee Club started the tradition of performing joint concerts with the Glee Club of a football opponent when they invited the Cornell Glee Club to Ann Arbor.[18] The following year, they made a national television appearance on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town".[22] In 1954, the Glee Club provided the music for an RKO film, Songs of the Colleges, which featured scenes from colleges and universities from around the country.[18]

The Glee Club had not previously had the membership base or the financial resources to attempt an international trip, but in the spring of 1955, a four-week trip to Western Europe was undertaken. Highlights included an appearance at the American Embassy in Rome and a performance before Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.[23] In 1958, the club made another national television appearance on the Pat Boone Show,[24]

In 1956, Dr. Walter Collins temporarily took over leadership of the club from Duey.[25] During his tenure, an associated group, known as The Friars, was formed. It is named after a former drinking club at the university, and specializes in parodies of popular songs.[26]

The European tour in 1959 commemorated the centennial of the Glee Club. In addition to a four-week concert tour, the group competed in the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales,[27] one of the world's most significant choral competitions.[28] The boat the club were travelling on was nearly a day late arriving, nearly missing the competition, and they performed having had only three hours sleep.[29] Despite this, the club became the first American choir ever to win the male choir competition.[27]

The club has won the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod four times.

In 1963, a five-week tour included performances at the residence of the American Ambassador in Athens and the American Embassy in London.[5] The club took first prize in the Llangollen Eisteddfod for a second time, winning over 20 groups from 11 different countries.[30] In 1967, the club undertook a world tour of 17 different nations, including the Soviet Union.[20] The club returned to Llangollen, where they took third place in the contest. third place.[29] In March 1969, Duey retired after 22 years of service.[19]

The club toured Europe again in 1971 with new musical director Willis Patterson and won the Eisteddfod for a third time.[28] This feat was repeated for a fourth time in 1978 under the direction of Leonard Johnson, marking four separate occasions when the club had won the competition.[3] To celebrate their four victories, the Glee Club gives out four "Llangollen Awards" annually to members who embody the spirit of this competition.[31]

Many other highlights come from the Duey years. In September 1965 the Glee Club—along with Harvard University, Smith College, and Howard University—was invited to represent the United States at the first International University Choral Festival.[32] This event was held at Lincoln Center in New York and at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.[33]

Modern Era

The club appeared at the 1984 World Series at Tiger Stadium in Detroit

The club performed the pre-game festivities for the final game of the 1984 World Series at Tiger Stadium, but their performance was overshadowed by scenes of violence and rioting after the game. Their tour bus was set upon by rioters, who vandalised it, while the singers fled to safety.[34] A more favourable appearance occurred the following year when, under the direction of Patrick Gardner, the club undertook a 36-day tour across Europe, which culminated in another appearance at Llangollen, where they placed third.[35]

Under the direction of Jerry Blackstone, the Michigan Men's Glee Club embarked on four major overseas tours. In 1989 the Glee Club spent three weeks touring Asia with concerts in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.[36] In 1992 the Club embarked on a trip to Eastern Europe, where they were one of the first American groups to visit the new country of Estonia, which had recently declared independence from the defunct Soviet Union.[37] 1996 brought the Club to South America including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Peru, and the Club most recently traversed Australia in 2000.[38] The highlight of this tour was the inaugural Men of Song Festival hosted by the Brisbane Boys' College in which 140 pupils participated in a workshop and joint concert.[39]

In 2002, the club performed a joined concert in Hill Auditorium with the university's Women's Glee Club and that of Smith College

Under Blackstone's direction the Club was invited to perform at several conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, including the 1997 National Convention in San Diego.[8] The Club also released six compact discs during this time and was featured on Mannheim Steamroller's 2001 album Christmas Extraordinaire, with Blackstone co-credited as choir director.[40] In the spring of 2001 the combined Men's Glee Club and Smith College Glee Club and Chorale gave a performance of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem in Northampton, Massachusetts. The following fall the endeavor was repeated in Hill Auditorium with the Smith and Michigan Women's Glee Clubs.[41] Blackstone retired in 2002, with the club's CD I have had singing being a retrospective of his tenure as conductor.[38] His time spent conducting the club has been well-received, with the secretary of the Warsaw Philharmonica stating, "I was completely enchanted. It is unbelievable that an amateur group could surpass our most professional choirs with such ease of execution."[42]

Stephen Lusmann took over leadership until 2005;[43] highlights of his tenure include an appearance at the Intercollegiate Men's Choruses National Convention at Harvard University, a sixteen-day tour of Great Britain and Ireland in 2004 and the club's premiere performance at Carnegie Hall with the Smith College Glee Club in 2005.[44]

From 2005 to 2011, the Club was under the direction of Paul Rardin.[45] Notable achievements during this time include international tours to Spain in 2008[46] and Cuba in 2011. The Cuban tour was considered especially significant, given that Americans have not easily been able to travel to the country legally, but the University gave financial assistance and an offer of a cultural exchange to make the tour happen.[37] In 2010, the club celebrated its 150th anniversary, and as part of the celebrations performed a set of joint concerts with the Harvard University and University of Virginia Glee Clubs, taking a variety of music including contemporary American songs, folk and Renaissance music. Rardin said "It's a wonderful opportunity for all of us to see, hear and learn from three different ensembles."[47]

Rardin left the University of Michigan after the Cuban tour[37] to accept the position of Director of Choirs at Temple University in 2011.[48] As of the fall term of 2011, Eugene Rogers now directs the Club.[49] Notable achievements during his tenure include an international tour to China in 2012,[50] a major tour of the East Coast of the United States which concluded in a joint concert with the Glee Clubs of Harvard and Yale Universities, and the nationwide extension of the Club's Brothers in Song program which partners with underserved young men's choral programs in public schools.[51]

The club continues to collaborate with others. Tom Harle, MD of the Naperville Glee Club said "There's a lot to be said about them. They're one of the most prestigious and one of the oldest men's glee clubs in the country."[52]

List of directors

Years active Name
1877 William Murphy[53]
1878 Prof. De Prosse[53]
1879–1885 Isaac C. Goff[53]
1885–1887 Harold B. Wilson[53]
1887–1889 Rossetter G. Cole[53]
1890–1892 Albert A. Stanley[53]
1893 Silas R. Mills[53]
1893–1908 No director from the music faculty was appointed at this time. Until the 1920s, directors were only in an advisory role.[54]
1908–1911 Earle Killeen[53]
1912–1914 William A. Howland[53]
1915–1919 Theodore Harrison[55]
1920 Russell Carter[25]
1921 William B. Wheeler[25]
1922–1923 Frank L. Thomas[25]
1924 George O. Bowen[25]
1925–1930 Theodore Harrison[25]
1931 Arthur Hackett
1932–1947 David Mattern
1947–1955[25][19] Philip Duey
1956 Walter S. Collins (acting)[25]
1957–1969 Philip Duey[25]
1969–1975[25][19] Willis Patterson
1976–1981 Leonard Johnson[25]
1982–1987 Patrick Gardner[56]
1988 Bradley Bloom[56]
1989–2002 Jerry Blackstone[57]
2003–2005 Stephen Lusmann[43]
2005–2011 Paul Rardin[45]
2011–present Eugene Rogers[58]

Notable alumni

International tours

See also


  1. Cook, Colleen Ryckert (2012). Glee Club Style: Choosing Costumes, Makeup, Sets, and Props. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 10. ISBN 9781448868902.
  2. Humphrey, Edwin (1898). The Michigan Book. University of Michigan. pp. 136–139.
  3. 1 2 "Glee Club to Sing at Bethseda-By-Sea". Palm Beach Daily News. May 6, 1980. p. 5. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  4. "Llangollen International Eisteddfod Male Choirs: Competition Winners". Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Duey 1967, p. 5.
  6. 1 2 3 Peters, Jeremy (April 9, 2010). "U-M Men's Glee Club plans 150th anniversary Alumni Reunion Concert on Saturday". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  7. "University of Michigan Glee Club to perform May 8". Bluffton Today. March 31, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  8. 1 2 "University of Michigan Men's Glee Club". The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  9. Dorris, Cara (January 23, 2013). "Dorris '15: Snap out of it". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  10. The Michigan Alumnus. 8990. University of Michigan Libraries. 1982. p. 8.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 1.
  12. Stewart, Donald & Stewart, Patricia (1997). The Life and Legacy of Fred Newton Scott. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780822977230.
  13. Duchan 2012, p. 15.
  14. 1 2 3 Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 2.
  15. Duchan 2012, p. 14.
  16. Duchan 2012, p. 16.
  17. "Club History". University of Michigan Men's Glee Club. p. 1. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  18. 1 2 3 4 Bluttman, Marjorie (November 8, 1955). "Men's Glee Club Combines Excitement, Fun With Work". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  19. 1 2 3 4 "A formal tribute to Duey". The Michigan Daily. March 30, 1969. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  20. 1 2 "Glee Club Director Retiring From Post". The Pittsburgh Press. April 28, 1969. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  21. "'U' Glee Club Will Record Musical hits". The Michigan Daily. November 21, 1947. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  22. "With Glee Club". Greensburg Daily Tribune. February 27, 1952. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  23. "West Hartford Man Leads Glee Club Here April 5". Hartford Courant. March 25, 1956. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  24. Eichler, Ann (May 6, 1958). "Glee Club Enjoys TV Work". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 13.
  26. Duchan 2012, pp. 46-47.
  27. 1 2 "Michigan Glee Club Members". St. Joseph Gazette. January 17, 1960. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  28. 1 2 "Glee Club receives top festival honors". The Michigan Daily. July 14, 1971. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  29. 1 2 "Club History". University of Michigan Men's Glee Club. p. 2. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  30. "The Michigan Men's Glee Club". The Michigan Daily. August 25, 1964. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  31. "Scholarships". University of Michigan Men's Glee Club. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  32. "14 Lands to Send Choruses To City". The New York Times. February 4, 1965.
  33. Miller, Fritz (September 25, 1965). "Precision Marks Japanese Glee Club performances". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  34. Guest, Larry (October 21, 1984). "Scene after World Series resembled streets of Belfast". Beaver County Times. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  35. "Glee Club ranked third". The Michigan Daily. July 16, 1985. p. 2. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  36. Schweiger, Stephen (April 12, 1989). "Men's Glee Club to tour Far East". The Michigan Daily. p. 2. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  37. 1 2 3 Speciner, Arielle (April 8, 2011). "Glee Club Spring Concert anticipates Cuba trip". Cuba Headlines. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  38. 1 2 "Jerry Blackstone". The State University of New York at Potsdam. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  39. Music at Michigan, Volumes 3334. University of Michigan School of Music. p. 12.
  40. "Christmas Extraordinaire: Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  41. "The American Organist". 36. American Guild of Organists. 2002: 60.
  42. "Club History: Page 3". University of Michigan Men's Glee Club (official website). Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  43. 1 2 Freedman, Jamie (April 11, 2002). "Blackstone to direct final Glee Club show". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  44. "The University of Michigan's Men's Glee Club: Stephen Lusmann, director". Block M Records. 2007. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  45. 1 2 Chou, Kimberly (February 23, 2006). "Lyricists wanted to pen new 'M' song". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  46. "La iglesia de los Jesuitas acoge hoy el concierto de la coral masculina de la University of Michigan". La Cerca (in Spanish). April 30, 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  47. McGuire, Molly (March 10, 2010). "Glee clubs convene to celebrate an ancient tradition of song". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  48. "Experience Unsurpassed Professional Growth, Inspiration, Motivation, Meet New Friends and Old, in Historic San Antonio". Texas Choral Directors Association. 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  49. McKee, Jenn (November 10, 2011). "U-M Men's Glee Club fall concert puts spotlight on new director, new work, and 10 Detroit students". The Ann Arbor News. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  50. "Concert of University of Michigan Men's Glee Club". Shanghai Cultural Information. May 13, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  51. Bell, Jordan (March 20, 2013). "Brothers in Song: New Club Leadership Reflects". University of Michigan Men's Glee Club. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  52. Alleman, Annie (February 3, 2012). "Naperville and Michigan Glee Clubs sing". Herald News. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  53. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 12.
  54. Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 15.
  55. Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 12,13.
  56. 1 2 Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 14.
  57. Ferrante & Leskiw 2003, p. 14,15.
  58. Odden, Jonathan (November 11, 2011). "Men's Glee Club brings a diverse repertoire to Hill Auditorium". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  59. Levin, Carl (March 26, 2010). "Recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the University of Michigan's Men's Glee Club". Office of Carl Levin. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  60. "University of Michigan Men's Glee Club". University of Michigan, Arts at Michigan. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  61. "Welcome to Michigan". University of Michigan. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  62. Breakstone, Marlee (March 9, 2016). "One Wolverine's voice turned two judge's chairs on The Voice". The Michigan Daily.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/6/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.