Lyricists wanted to pen new 'M' song


Published February 23, 2006

The opportunity to contribute lyrics to a Michigan song only comes along once in a generation.

The Michigan Men's Glee Club is seeking original lyrics for a new Michigan song to be composed by first-year Glee Club Director Paul Rardin.

Open to all Michigan students, faculty, staff and alumni, the contest's winning lyrics and accompanying music will be the first new Michigan song in 13 years.

The most recent ode to the University, "Memories of Michigan," was the winner of a 1993 contest for both lyrics and music.

"There's a big gap (between the songs) - and an even bigger gap before that," Rardin said.

Before "Memories of Michigan," the last song debuted in 1967, the same year of the Glee Club's unprecedented three-week world tour.

"I felt we needed to add to the repertoire. That was the goal," Rardin said. Most of the songs in the Michigan collection were written before 1950, and many before 1900.

A University alum - Rardin received his master's from the School of Music - the director said he understands the scope of the project.

"It is a big deal," he said. "It's certainly very humbling (composing a piece that will be) compared to these classics."

Rardin said he will not start composing the music until after lyrics are chosen.

"I don't want the music to influence what the words say," he said.

If they have a "pomp and circumstance feeling," like classic Michigan songs, he said he will take that into consideration.

But the lyrics may fit a more contemporary style.

"The goal is (to craft) a piece that is at once timeless and simultaneously a snapshot of music today," Rardin said.

Contest entries can be free verse, although rhymed verse is preferred.

Rardin will judge the contest with LSA English Prof. Keith Taylor and members of the Glee Club Executive Committee.

Entries are due tomorrow. The Glee Club has set the limit at a 200-word maximum. The winning lyricist will receive a $300 award and acknowledgement in future programs and in the official UMMGC song book. He or she will also be mentioned at the spring concert in April 2007, a night commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Glee Club's world tour.

The winning lyricist will add his or her name to a list that includes Louis Elbel, writer of the "The Victors," and Earl V. Moore, who wrote "Varsity."