Glee clubs convene to celebrate an ancient tradition of song

BY MOLLY MCGUIRE
Daily Arts Writer
Published March 10, 2010

It’s a big year for Glee, and a memorable time for three of the oldest collegiate men’s choruses in the country. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club, as well as the 150th anniversary of Harvard University’s Glee Club. This Saturday, the two will join together along with the University of Virginia Glee Club in their penultimate concert of the semester.

Men’s Glee Club: Celebrating 440 Years of Song


Saturday at 8 p.m.
St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
Tickets from $5

The three choirs will perform a variety of music, emphasizing different eras and styles. American contemporary, Renaissance and folk songs are listed on the program planned for Saturday. Performing a wide selection of classical to popular music, with an array of different languages, the choirs plan to show off their ranges.

“I know firsthand that the UM Men’s Glee Club performs with extra energy and excitement when there are peer groups listening,” said Paul Rardin, the director of the Michigan Men’s Glee Club. “I’m quite sure that the other groups are the same way, and we all will give peak performances that evening.”

A time for celebration, this year marks several important milestones for these esteemed choirs. The oldest continually run student organization at the University, the Men’s Glee Club is celebrating 150 years of history and fraternity. At the same time that the Harvard Glee Club is marking its 150th anniversary, it’s also honoring Jameson Marvin’s final year as conductor. Marvin is retiring after serving as director of choral activities at Harvard for 32 years.

“Jameson Marvin has built one of the best Men’s Glee Clubs in the country across his 32 years,” Rardin said. “His will be giant shoes to fill.”

The title of the event is “Celebrating 440 Years of Song,” as Virginia’s Glee Club is also one of the oldest choruses in the country and the oldest musical organization at the University of Virginia, founded nearly 140 years ago. But the main reason the University of Virginia Glee Club is making the trip to Ann Arbor is to welcome its new president: The University of Michigan's current provost, Teresa Sullivan.

“For them it’s a concert of meeting and welcoming Dr. Sullivan to their students and sound,” Rardin said.

The University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club only has one performance left this year after the March 13 event: the official 150th anniversary celebration on April 10. This weekend’s quadruple celebration is one of the last opportunities of the semester to hear them, along with the added bonus of hearing other illustrious collegiate choirs.

“It’s very rare for three men’s choirs to converge on the same city on the same day,” Rardin said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us to see, hear and learn from three different ensembles.”