Correction: A story that ran on April 8 about the Men’s Glee Club should not have said that Prof. Stephen Lusmann’s last performance with the Glee Club would be the next Saturday. He conducted the Glee Club on its East Coast tour later that spring. The same story also should not have said that Prof. Jerry Blackstone’s last performance at Hill Auditorium was in 2002. That performance was his last at Hill as the director of the Glee Club.
Throughout his 22-year career, Stephen Lusmann has been known as a renowned vocalist, singing leading roles with major opera houses around the world, including the Opera de Monte Carlo, Washington Opera and the Oper der Stadt Bonn in Germany. A gifted baritone, Lusmann performed as a soloist at such notable venues as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center. In 1999, he was appointed Assistant Professor of voice at the University’s School of Music.
After Lusmann took this teaching position, he had the opportunity to add yet another accomplishment to his résumé: conductor of the Men’s Glee Club. His official appointment occurred in April 2002, after former conductor Music Prof. Jerry Blackstone’s final performance (as director of the Glee Club) at Hill Auditorium. Lusmann will step down from his position after Saturday night’s 145th Annual Spring Concert.
As conductor, Lusmann quickly gained the respect of Glee Club members with his passion and devotion to art. “(Lusmann) is quite inspiring and directs in a very big manner, which drives us to sing louder,” LSA freshman Lucas O’Bryen said. Lusmann’s fervor was present in every rehearsal, exemplifying the three standards of Glee Club members: “Tradition, Camaraderie and Musical Excellence.”
In his three years leading the ensemble, the Glee Club premiered two new works, toured the Southwest and attended the Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses National Seminar at Harvard University — a conference in which it had not participated since 1986. In last year’s spring tour, Lusmann led the Glee Club on its first trip to Ireland and, after nearly two decades, a return to England. The tour was a great success and created many memorable moments, including Lusmann’s personal highlight, “(a) performance in St. James Church in Piccadilly London, England.”
Last October, Lusmann announced that this year would be his last as the conductor of the Glee Club, bringing his three-year tenure to an end. He decided to resign in order to devote more time to his soloist career as baritone and to his voice students here at the University.
Lusmann’s final performance with the Glee Club will also feature the Rutgers University Glee Club under the direction of former Michigan Men’s Glee Club conductor Patrick Gardner. “He is a gentleman that I met in New Jersey, where I used to live. It was he who inspired me to direct the Glee Club,” Lusmann said of Gardner. The collaboration will feature many harmonic pieces including Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria,” which Lusmann called “one of the greatest choral pieces written for men’s voices.”
Lusmann’s tenure will conclude after this year’s East Coast tour. The tour — comprised of stops from Ithaca, N.Y. to Annandale, Va. — will include a date at Carnegie Hall where, suitably, Lusmann will be the baritone soloist in the Club’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
The Club will miss Lusmann’s leadership. “(Lusmann) really has been a friend to all of us,” LSA sophomore Keith Hudolin said. As he leaves the group, Lusmann wished to encourage the Glee Club to “just keep singing.”