Virginia Glee Club
Virginiagleeclub1893 220.jpg
The Virginia Glee Club in 1893, including conductor Harrison Randolph and author of the Good Old Song E. A. Craighill. Courtesy, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.
Background information
Origin Charlottesville, Virginia
Genre(s) Classical
Years active 1871–1906,1910-1912,1915–present

The Virginia Glee Club is a critically acclaimed men's chorus based at the University of Virginia. It performs both traditional and contemporary vocal works, typically in TTBB arrangements. Founded in 1871, the Glee Club is the University's oldest musical organization and one of the oldest all-male collegiate vocal ensembles in the United States. It is currently conducted by Frank Albinder.

History Edit

Main article: Category:Glee Club chronology

Early references to Glee Clubs at the University exist, including the Carr's Hill Glee Club of 1861 and the Glee Club of 1870,[1] but these groups do not appear to have developed sustained interest or existence. The Virginia Glee Club that exists today was founded in 1871 as the Cabell House Men, a loose organization of students interested in singing who roomed in the Cabell House in Charlottesville.[2] In 1874 a related club, called the Claribel, joined with the Instrumental Club in performing serenades for "ladies of the University and Charlottesville."[3] In the 1893-1894 session of the University, the Glee Club was combined with other extant student musical groups to form the Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin Club, a more permanent organization, with professor of mathematics (and University Chapel organist) Harrison Randolph as the director.[2][4]. During this period, the group toured major Southern cities annually, playing to standing room only crowds in Richmond and traveling as far afield as Atlanta[5], St. Louis. and Memphis, according to contemporary accounts, donating the profits to the Athletic Association of the University of Virginia.[6][7][8] The group continued to perform and tour the South through the early 1900s; they are recorded as visiting Atlanta on tour under the direction of a student, John Shishmanian, in October 1905,[9] and a contemporary letter attests to their existence in the fall of 1905.[10]

After the fall of 1905, the group disbanded and reformed periodically; University historian Philip Alexander Bruce indicates it disbanded in 1905, then reformed in 1910-1911 and began to perform again.[11] The group went on hiatus for a year in the fall of 1912, citing "disadvantageous circumstances" with the hope of reforming later.[12] Finally, in January 1915, it was reorganized under the leadership of Professor Alfred Lawrence (A.L.) Hall-Quest (professor of educational psychology); Hall-Quest is said to have modeled the group after the glee club of his alma mater, Princeton University.[11][13]

Since 1915, the Virginia Glee Club has been in continuous existence as a men's chorus at the University. From the 1920s into the 1980s, the Glee Club enjoyed an association with the McIntire Department of Music through a series of directors who were members of the music faculty, including Arthur Fickenscher, Harry Rogers Pratt, Stephen Tuttle, Donald MacInnis, and Donald Loach. The group was viewed as an educational resource that enhanced other offerings; a course catalog from the 1920s offered students in the Composition class the opportunity to have their works performed by the Glee Club.[14]

During the 1940s, the Glee Club worked with composer in residence Randall Thompson when director Stephen Tuttle commissioned Thompson to write The Testament of Freedom, a setting of Thomas Jefferson's words about liberty, for the Virginia Glee Club. In the later years of Tuttle's tenure, the Glee Club recorded an album with RCA of traditional university songs, accompanied by the University of Virginia Band.

In 1953, members of the Glee Club formed the Virginia Gentlemen, the oldest a cappella group at UVA, which originated as a performing subset of the Glee Club[15] and became an independent organization in the 1980s.

The 1960s and 1970s found the group developing a specialty in Renaissance music under the direction of University professor Donald Loach, who developed a countertenor section within the group to meet the demands of the polyphonic style.[16] At this time the group performed on national and international stages, including a performance at the State Department for the Washington Diplomatic Corps Banquet in 1968, the only college glee club to be so honored at the time.[17] In 1971, the Z Society gave the Glee Club its Organization Award in recognition of its concerts, the recording of its album A Shadow's on the Sundial, and its pending first European tour.[18] The group toured Europe in 1972, funding the trip with individual and community contributions, as well as profits from their 1972 recording, A Shadow's on the Sundial.[19]

In 1989, the Virginia Glee Club became a Contracted Independent Organization, with substantial assistance from Gilbert J. Sullivan and the UVA Alumni Association, when the Music Department moved unilaterally to combine it with the Virginia Women's Chorus into a mixed choir, which would have eliminated the Glee Club's independent identity.[20]

Jeffersonian performances Edit

The Glee Club has often provided musical accompaniment to public observances in honor of the founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, and his home, Monticello. They presented musical accompaniment to a visit to Monticello by the French Ambassador to the United States, Jules Jusserand, in 1904,[21] and sang for the ceremony honoring the creation of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation in 1923.[22] At one of the group's concerts in Washington, DC in 1912, the then-owner of Monticello, Jefferson Monroe Levy, was in attendance and was publicly baited for not turning Monticello over outright to the United States government.[23]

The Glee Club was also active in the celebration of Jefferson's 200th and 250th birthdays in 1943 and 1993 with commissioned works and public performances (see Commissioned works for more details).

Notable alumni Edit

Over the years the group has counted various famous UVA students among its alumni, including Woodrow Wilson, who joined the Glee Club while attending the University of Virginia School of Law,[24] Harrison Randolph, who went on to serve as the president of the College of Charleston for nearly 50 years, Frank Hereford, who served as president of the University from 1974 to 1985,[25] and Edward A. Craighill, author of The Good Old Song.[26] Other notable alumni include Elbert Lee Trinkle, governor of Virginia from 1922 to 1926;[27] Fulton Lewis, Jr., radio personality and author of the UVa fight song, "The Cavalier Song," Ernest Mead, chair emeritus of the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia; Charles S. Russell, justice on the Supreme Court of Virginia;[28] James F. Jones, president of Trinity College (Connecticut);,[29] musicologist Charles E. Hamm,[30] John Edgar Park, host of Make: television; Michael Butterman, Music Director of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra and the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra. and Irby Cauthen, long-time dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia.

List of Directors Edit

In the early years of the Glee Club, the group's director was often a student. When Woodrow Wilson was a member in 1879, the director was John Duncan Emmet,[31] who received his medical degree from the University in 1880.[32] Similarly, in 1894, Harrison Randolph was a graduate student and instructor in mathematics, and Shishmanian in 1905 was a graduate student. From 1915 through 1989, the director was a member of the University faculty. Since the Club's separation from the music department, the post has been held by faculty, students, and outside professionals.

The Glee Club today Edit

Since its separation from the McIntire Department of Music in 1989, the Glee Club has existed as a Contracted Independent Organization at the University. The group currently receives no funds from the University, and is entirely student managed.

The Glee Club rehearses and performs the majority of its home concerts at Old Cabell Hall on the University of Virginia Lawn, where it recorded its 1947 record Songs of the University of Virginia. The Glee Club's concert schedule typically includes a mix of home and road concerts, mostly notably including its annual Christmas Concerts, which have been produced each year since 1940. The Glee Club also gives its Finals concert the night before University Commencement, during which graduating members are bid farewell. The Glee Club typically collaborates on the road with such women's choirs as the Wellesley College Choir.

The Glee Club was recently recognized with a Jefferson Trust grant "to research, perform and record a collection of songs that reflect the historical significance of the University's choral music legacy," under a project called Songs of Virginia.[45]

The Glee Club terms itself a "Fraternity of Talent". In its own words, the Glee Club is "committed to performing at a professional level, promoting fellowship, preserving longstanding tradition, and upholding the ideals of student self-governance." Members are said to adhere to the lifestyle set forth in the motto "Virginia Messengers of Harmony, Love, and Brotherhood".

Commissioned works Edit

One of the high points of the group's early years was its 1943 premiere performance of The Testament of Freedom by American composer Randall Thompson, then a Virginia professor. The Glee Club commissioned Thompson to write the piece in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of University founder Thomas Jefferson.[46]

The group continues to commission choral works for men's voices; recent examples include Young T.J., commissioned by the Glee Club from composer Neely Bruce in honor of Thomas Jefferson's 250th birthday.[47] The piece was performed at various celebrations of Jefferson's 250th birthday on April 13, 1993, including a special performance for President Bill Clinton.[48]

Other recent commissions include The Jabberwocky, a 2006 setting of the Lewis Carroll poem by Judith Shatin.[49]

The Glee Club most recently was part of a group to commission a work by Lee Hoiby called Private First Class Jesse Givens. The lyrics are the text of the last letter sent home by PFC Givens after he died in Iraq in March, 2003. [50]

Discography Edit

Main article: Virginia Glee Club discography

External linksEdit

References Edit

  1. "Collegiana". Virginia University Magazine 8 (5): 37-38. February 1870. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bruce, Philip Alexander (1921). History of the University of Virginia, 1818-1919. IV. MacMillan. pp. 127–128,841.,M1. 
  3. "Collegiana". Virginia University Magazine XIII (7): 426-427. April 1875. 
  4. University of Virginia Glee Club. (1972). A Shadow's on the Sundial (liner notes). [Record album]. 
  5. "The Virginia Boys". The Atlanta Constitution: p. 24. 1894-01-28. Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  6. Order, Kappa Alpha (1892). The Kappa Alpha Journal. pp. 239,367.,M1. 
  7. University Magazine. New York. 1893. pp. 186-187, 278.,M1. 
  8. Sigma, Kappa (1895). Caduceus of Kappa Sigma. pp. 164. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Virginia Glee Club Coming". Atlanta Constitution: p. A7. 1905-10-15. "The clubs are now undergoing bi-weekly rehearsals under the leadership of Mr. Shishmania [sic], the winner of the southern intercollegiate oratorical medal last winter." 
  10. "A Guide to the Gregory and Whitmore Family Papers, 1990-1993". Gregory and Whitmore Family Papers, 1990-1993, Accession # 10754-c. 1905-10-29. Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Bruce, Philip Alexander (1921). History of the University of Virginia, 1818-1919. V. Macmillan. pp. 209,288–289.,M1. 
  12. Alumni Bulletin of the University of Virginia. 3. 5. University of Virginia. 1912. p. 563. 
  13. A Thousand American Men of Mark To-Day. Chicago: American Men of Mark. 1917. pp. 110–111.,M1. 
  14. University of Virginia Record. Charlottesville: University of Virginia. 1924. p. 31. 
  15. Daly, Kim (1998-10-29). "Facing the Music". The Declaration 26 (17). Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  16. "University of North Carolina Women's Chorus and University of Virginia Glee Club (October 7, 1988 performance)" (PDF). 1988-10-07. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  17. Adams, Tom (1968-09-11). "Cultural Entertainment Features 'La Mancha': Glee Club". Cavalier Daily. 
  18. Dabney, Virginius (1981). Mr. Jefferson's University. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. p. 465. 
  19. Kyle, Patti (1972-02-29). "Singers Invade Europe at Spring Break". Cavalier Daily.;;toc.depth=1;;brand=default;query=virginia%20glee%20club%20europe%20cavalier%20daily#. 
  20. Dakake, Brad (2000-02-17). "Tradition in Treble: A Brief History of Glee Club". The Declaration 28 (3). 
  21. Leepson, Marc (2001). Saving Monticello. p. 131. ISBN 074322602X. 
  22. Leepson, 225.
  23. "Mrs. Littleton Baits Levy: Owner of Monticello Forced to Listen to Criticisms at Concert". New York Times. 1912-04-26. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  24. Hale, William Bayard (November 1911 to April 1912). "Woodrow Wilson—A Biography: Second Article—At College, Preparing for Public Life". The World's Work (Doubleday, Page & Company) 23: 74.,M1. 
  25. Corks and Curls. 1942. p. 276. 
  26. "University of Virginia Glee Club Photo, February 11, 1893". 1893-02-11. Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  27. Bruce, Philip Alexander (1924). History of Virginia. 4. p. 4 ff.. ISBN 0-929900-05-7.;;toc.depth=1;;brand=default;query=glee%20club#1. 
  28. Corks and Curls. 1946. p. 212. 
  29. Baumgartner, Scott (2004-08-03). "An Interview with James Jones, Jr.". Trinity Tripod. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  30. "In Memoriam". University of Virginia Magazine. Spring 2012. 
  31. "President-Elect Won Enviable Reputation as Orator While Studying at University of Virginia" (PDF). New York Times: p. X12. 1912-11-10. 
  32. Barringer, Paul; James Mercer Garnett, Rosewell Page (1904). University of Virginia: its history, influence, equipment, and characteristics. II. New York: Lewis Publishing Company. p. 204. 
  33. "Concert". Alexandria Gazette. 1905-03-11.;words=club+glee+Clubs+Glee+Club. 
  34. "Bulletin". College Topics: p. 5. 1906-11-21. 
  35. Madison Hall Notes. 6. 1911. 
  36. Board of Visitors Minutes for May 15, 1918. 1918. 
  37. Professor Hall-Quest resigned from the University on or around May 1918, presumably terminating his directorship.
  38. "Glee Club Holds First Try-Out - Trips Planned". College Topics: p. 7. 1917-10-03. 
  39. University of Virginia Record: Department of the College. 1924-1925. p. 32. Retrieved 2008-03-20. 
  40. Stokes, Virginia; Lloyd Thomas Smith Jr, James R Boyd, Margaret O'Brien, Marc Wagner. "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Recoleta" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  41. "University Glee Club Director Pratt Resigns After Leading Singers for Nearly 15 Years". College Topics: p. 1. 1943-07-15. 
  42. "Sorry! (Corrections)". The Cavalier Daily: p. 3. 1948-11-23. 
  43. University of Virginia Record. 44. University of Virginia. 1958. p. 92. "Glee Club and Small Choral Ensembles; Mr. Davis"  The precise dates and times of MacInnis's and Davis's conducting schedule are unclear.
  44. "A Brief History of the Club". Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  45. "Third Annual Jefferson Trust Grants Provide $470,000 to University of Virginia, Exceeding $1 Million in Cumulative Gifts". UVA Today. 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  46. Tawa, Nicholas E. (2001). From Psalm to Symphony: A History of Music in New England. Boston: Northeastern University Press. p. 327. 
  47. "About Neely Bruce". Retrieved 2007-08-06. 
  48. Clinton, William Jefferson (1993-04-13). "Remarks by the President at Ceremony Honoring 250th Anniversary of Birth of Thomas Jefferson". Retrieved 2007-08-06. 
  49. Ford, Jane (2006-04-13). "Shatin makes musical sense of Jabberwocky". Inside UVA 36 (6). Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  50. "Lee Hoiby Composer-in-Residence at Austin Peay University". 2007-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. 
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