The Virginia Gentlemen is a nationally-acclaimed men's collegiate a cappella group and the oldest a cappella group at the University of Virginia. Informally referred to as the VGs, the group was originally founded in 1953 as an elite octet of the Virginia Glee Club. Since establishing independence from the Virginia Glee Club in 1987, the group has continued to perform a mix of contemporary pop and classic vocal music.
Recognizable by the signature navy blue blazers and orange-and-blue bow ties worn during performances, the VGs offer regular performances across the Charlottesville area and the United States, and conduct annual international tours, having most recently travelled to Europe, North Africa, Australia, and East Asia. Additionally, the group has performed in recent years at the Sydney Opera House, the Forbidden City, the Grand Palace of Thailand, and at the White House for the Bush and Obama administrations.
About[edit | edit source]
History[edit | edit source]
Glee Club era and Independence[edit | edit source]
The Virginia Gentlemen were founded in 1953 and as such are the oldest a cappella group at the University of Virginia. The group was initially conceived as an elite octet of the Virginia Glee Club and would perform regularly at their concerts, eventually building enough of a reputation to attract its own audiences and perform its own shows. The group existed for over three decades as a subsidiary of the Glee Club until establishing itself as an contracted independent organization in 1987, under the leadership of then-music director Michael Butterman.
Modern Group[edit | edit source]
Since the VGs' independence from the Virginia Glee Club, much changed with the group, the least of which being the group's membership size. From the Glee Club era size of 8 to 15 members (15 in 1965-66), the group now stands regularly between 15 and 19 members per year. The group's musical tastes changed as well, diverging from the classical, folksong, and barbershop chorus pieces of the Glee Club era to arrangements of modern pop singles and rock ballads that it performs and records today.
The VGs maintain a close relationship with the University of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville, performing regularly on campus in concerts and for special occasions and memorials, including the vigil for Yeardley Love after her death.
The group recorded its first album in 1988 with Live From the Studio and has since released 19 studio albums. The VGs most recent album release was in 2012 with the award-winning "Guys In Ties." Several Virginia Gentlemen arrangements have been featured on Best of College A Cappella compilations, including J. Craig Fennell's renowned a cappella arrangement of the song "Insomniac" by Billy Pilgrim on the group's album Seven and Seven.
Traditions[edit | edit source]
Image and Attire[edit | edit source]
The Virginia Gentlemen's standard performance attire consists of khakis, blue blazers, and blue and orange bow ties (the UVA colors), for which members of the group are widely recognized around campus. Indeed, several of the a cappella groups founded at the University of Virginia after the Virginia Gentlemen established their identities in response to the formal look taken by the Virginia Gentlemen at concerts. However, the group does not perform exclusively in "VG attire" but has performed more informally as suited by the occasion.
Activities[edit | edit source]
Performances[edit | edit source]
Concerts[edit | edit source]
The Virginia Gentlemen annually perform four concerts throughout the year, typically in Old Cabell Hall. The first of these concerts is the Family Weekend Concert held as part of the events organized for the University's Family Weekend in the middle of the Fall semester. The second is the Holiday Concert held in conjunction with the Virginia Sil'hooettes in December. The third of these is the Winter Classic held in February, which at times has also been held in conjunction with the Hullabahoos and the Academical Village People. The fourth concert of the year is the Spring Concert, held in April. The proceeds from one or more of these concerts is annually donated to charity.
The VGs also perform annually at the Annual Christmas Concert of the Virginia Glee Club in honor of the two groups' long-standing relationship. Traditionally, when the Glee Club performs "The Twelve Days of Christmas," the eighth day is sung by the VGs, an homage to the original octet which formed out of the Glee Club.
At the White House[edit | edit source]
The group has received requests to perform in several prestigious venues, including the White House, at which the group performed in 1991 for George H. W. Bush, in 2008 for George W. Bush, and in 2011, 2012, and 2013 for Barack Obama, including for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration.
Annual International Tours[edit | edit source]
The group has travelled extensively since its independence, beginning with regular tours around the country and to the Caribbean in the early years of independence. For the last decade and a half, the group has travelled on an annual international tour, most recently visiting Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Hong Kong in March 2013.
Discography[edit | edit source]
Amateur Recordings "Concert on the Lawn" (1966)
[recovered 2015, transcribed to CD 2016]
- Studio Albums
- Live From The Studio (1988)
- Stop, Drop, and Roll (1990)
- Prairie Fire (1991)
- High Tied (1992)
- XL (1993)
- Undone (1994)
- Seven and Seven (1995)
- Void Where Prohibited (1996)
- Out On The Street (1997)
- Retrospective (1998)
- Last Call (1999)
- Bizarro World (2000)
- Turning (2002)
- Gold: 50th Anniversary Compilation Album (2003)
- Based On A True Story (2004)
- Poker Face (2006)
- Holiday Album (2008)
- Rugby Road (2010)
- Guys In Ties (2012)
Awards[edit | edit source]
Selection for Best of College A Cappella (BOCA)
|1995||"Ship of Fools" by Robert Plant||BOCA Vol. 1: Best of College A Cappella||Won|
|1996||"Insomniac" by Billy Pilgrim||BOCA Vol. 2: Best of College A Cappella||Won|
|2013||"Without You" by David Guetta ft. Usher||BOCA 2013: Best of College A Cappella||Won|
Voices Only Compilation Album
|2013||"Holocene" by Bon Iver||Voices Only 2013 Vol. 2||Won|
Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (CARAs)
|1992||Prairie Fire||Best Male Collegiate Album, Runner Up||Won|
|1996||Seven and Seven||Best Male Collegiate Album||Nominated|
|"Insomniac" by Billy Pilgrim||Best Male Collegiate Song||Nominated|
|2013||"Colder Weather" by Zac Brown Band||Best Male Collegiate Solo—Andrew Fish||Nominated|
Notable alumni[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Category:Virginia Gentlemen
- Michael Butterman, world-renowned conductor 
- Norman Vladimir, pop-soul artist 
- Will Anderson, lead singer of Parachute (band)
- Nate McFarland, guitarist of Parachute (band)
Gallery[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- "The Virginia Gentlemen Official Site". The Virginia Gentlemen. http://thevirginiagentlemen.com/. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
- Friedman, Leah (1996-05-03), "Doo Wop Ditty", The Virginian-Pilot: E1, http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/VA-news/VA-Pilot/issues/1996/vp960503/05030046.htm, retrieved 2007-08-22
- Staples, Andy (2010-05-06). "As Virginia deals with tragedy, one has to wonder if red flags missed". Sports Illustrated. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/andy_staples/05/06/virginia.lacrosse.vigil1/index.html.
- Sears, Jonathan, RARB Review of Madhatters and Tangled Up in Blue State Street, http://www.rarb.org/reviews/328.html, retrieved 2008-01-03
- Christie, Rebecca, RARB Review of Straight, No Chaser's "Last Call", http://www.rarb.org/reviews/86.html, retrieved 2008-01-03
- Harris, Trey, RARB Review of Buffoons (University of Colorado)'s "So They Say", http://www.rarb.org/reviews/602.html, retrieved 2008-01-03
- Soo, Jevan, RARB Review of The Amateurs' "Pieces of Flair", http://www.rarb.org/reviews/294.html, retrieved 2008-01-03
- King, Thomas, RARB Review of Nine's "Miles to Go", http://www.rarb.org/reviews/431.html, retrieved 2008-01-03
- Christie, Rebecca, RARB Review of the Xtension Chords' Creative Outlet, http://www.rarb.org/reviews/764.html, retrieved 2008-01-03
- Kolko, Valerie, RARB Review of Out of the Dawg House's "On Track", http://www.rarb.org/reviews/672.html, retrieved 2008-01-03
- Simon, Scott. "Perfect Pitch: the Drama of Collegiate A Cappella". NPR Weekend Edition. http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=91028150.
- Rapkin, Mickey (2008), Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, Penguin Group, pp. 89–90, ISBN 978-1-59240-376-9, http://books.google.com/?id=yfpj2pr7DDEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22pitch+perfect%22+rapkin&q=virginia%20gentlemen
- "Thomas Jefferson's 265th Birthday". C-SPAN. 2008-04-14. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/188662.
- Arrington, Rebecca (2013-01-02). "Virginia Gentlemen perform at White House". UVA Today. http://uvatoday.org/blog/?p=4963.
- "Michael Butterman Home Page". http://www.michaelbutterman.com/site/home.html. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
- Moraski, Lauren (15 February 2013). "Norman Vladimir: A pop-soul artist with "depressingly hopeful" lyrics". CBSnews.com. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57569663/norman-vladimir-a-pop-soul-artist-with-depressingly-hopeful-lyrics/. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- "Parachutes Will Anderson college a cappella videos discovered". Examiner.com. 2010-01-11.
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