By Kaitlin Peffer, Staff Writer
An overwhelming wave of sound cascaded upon the concert listeners last Friday night as the Men’s Glee Club and Collegiate Chorale performed in front of a full house for the Winter Concert at Hall Auditorium. The concert offered students the opportunity to take a break from the oncoming stress of finals week and enjoy a night of harmonious performances.
Men’s Glee Club has been a strong tradition on Miami’s campus since its founding in 1907. It has produced notable alumni, such as New York Pops conductor, Steven Reineke, and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rajiv Joseph. Representing more than just a singing group, it has become a symbol of brotherhood and comradery for the past century.
The Glee Club’s presence has been making great musical strides on campus, throughout the country and all over the world. Most recently, the club toured Florida in January. The group plans to travel to Europe next May for a singing tour of Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
Their home venue, Hall Auditorium, was built specifically for their use in 1908 when the group required a place to perform that could cater to their needs.
Dr. Phillip Shriver, the university’s 17th president, almost never missed a Glee Club concert up until his death in 2011. He was made an honorary member in 1966 because of his dedication to the club. On Friday evening, Dr. Crawford and his wife both attended the concert.
“The Glee Club and Collegiate Chorale performance on Friday was an amazing experience of our students’ talent, passion and holiday spirit,” said President Crawford in an email. “Our first year at Miami has been filled with many gifts, and this was another shining treasure. What an uplifting and inspiring way to enjoy the beauty and excellence of Miami.”
President Crawford recalls other occasions where the various music ensembles made his Miami memories special.
“We have been big fans of the Glee Club and Collegiate Chorale since our early campus visits last spring,” said President Crawford. “The Glee Club taught us the fight song in August, and the students’ music was such a highlight of the inauguration. We are so grateful to be part of a community with such unsurpassed singing talent at its heart.”
Nearly 100 men in tuxes stood stiffly on risers under intense bright stage lights on Friday night as the members performed songs from traditional Latin pieces.
“Because of Tommy Wessendarp’s excellent student conducting during the song ‘Lux aeterna,’ and also during ‘Lux aurumque,’ the performances were even more ‘lit’ than we had originally intended,” said junior member Scott Richmond, referring to the English translation of the song titles, “Eternal Light” and “Light and Gold.”
As the audience’s cheers and applause began to crescendo with each piece, the performers started swaying, clapping and stomping during the Nigerian Christmas song “Betelehemu.” Four members enthusiastically played percussion instruments, including a cowbell.
These moments of excitement on stage reminded some audience members of the score to a movie soundtrack.
“Listening to the Glee Club singing reminded me of songs from ‘The Lion King,’” said sophomore Sydney Smith. “I felt like a Disney princess.”
At one point during the show, some members sang from the balcony during Biebl’s “Ave Maria.” Their voices coming from the back of the auditorium, combined with the remaining members still on stage, created a mesmerizing surround-sound effect for the audience.
While Glee Club performed mostly a cappella, Collegiate Chorale was accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra featuring cellos, violins and a harpsichord.
Both male and female voices contributed to the sound waves for this half of the event. The group started their portion of the program with an extensive set list of Vivaldi’s “Gloria” sung completely in Latin. To finish the night, the members of the Chorale sang portions of the “Hallelujah” Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah.”
The Choraliers and Chamber Singers perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, at Kumler Chapel.