Amherst College Glee Club

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Amherst College Glee Club
Amherst College Glee Club in 2009.jpg
Background information
OriginAmherst, Massachusetts
Years active1865–present

The Amherst College Glee Club, founded in 1865, is a 40-voice all-male vocal ensemble, and one of the oldest continuous student organization at Amherst College. It is part of the Amherst College Choral Society, along with the Women's Chorus, the Concert Choir, and the Madrigal Singers. The club has a history of extensive international touring, having to date performed in over 55 countries. It is currently directed by Amherst College Senior Lecturer in Music Mallorie Chernin.



The club, circa 1880

The club was founded as a student-directed double quartet in the spring semester of 1865 by Amherst senior Thomas E. Babb, in the spirit of Amherst's recently dissolved Donizetti Glee Club, founded in 1862.[1] Though the group nearly disbanded two years later when all but one of its members graduated, the club revived in 1868 after one lone year of inactivity. It continued to flirt with dissolution - some years being quite active and successful, others quite less so - until the fall of 1876 when it came under the professional direction and training of "Professor" Friedrich Zuchtmann, a vocal instructor from Springfield, Massachusetts. Under his leadership the club found more firm footing, and soon became a permanent fixture of Amherst College life.

Early accomplishments[edit]

In 1894 the Amherst Glee Club became one of the first American collegiate groups to travel to England.[2][3] In 1925 they sang at the White House for President Coolidge,[4] and they twice won the New England Intercollegiate Glee Club Contest - once in 1928 and once in 1934.[5][6]

Coming to maturity[edit]

In 1963 the club came under the direction of Bruce G. McInnes, former director of the Apollo Glee Club at Yale University. Under this new leadership, Glee Club membership rose from under 30 in 1962 to over 100 in 1965. In 1967 the club embarked on the first of several "World Tours". These tours, each lasting over a month, eventually took the Glee Club all over the globe and featured a number of notable performances. They became the first American chorus to sing High Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral,[7] and sang for many notable people, including Pope Paul VI,[7] King Mihendra and Queen Ratna of Nepal,[8] president Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya,[9] President Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast,[10] Princess Sarvath El Hassan of Jordan [11] Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel,[12] and noted composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.[11]


The club continues to perform both locally and internationally. In their 2007 tour to Estonia they sang for Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

International tours[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


  • 1865-1876 - Student directed
  • 1872-1874 - Assisted by George Cheney
  • 1876-1883 - Friedrich Zuchtmann
  • 1883-1894 - Alternated between students and Edward L. Sumner
  • 1894-1911 - Student directed (likely assisted by music professor William P. Bigelow '89)
  • 1912-1931 - Charles W. Cobb ‘97
  • 1932 - John J. Bishop
  • 1932-1946 - Ralph H. Oatley ‘22
  • 1946-1948 - Temporary hiatus for World War II
  • 1948-1950 - Henry G. Mishkin
  • 1951-1953 - Robert K. Beckwith
  • 1954-1958 - Charles W. Ludington
  • 1958-1962 - James Heywood Alexander
  • 1963 (spring) - Charles M. Fassett
  • 1963 (fall) - Bruce Archibald
  • 1963-1985 - Bruce McInnes
  • 1985-1986 - Mallorie Chernin and William McCorkle
  • 1986–present - Mallorie Chernin


  1. ^ "Rev. T.E. Babb, 99, Amherst Alumnus; Oldest Graduate of College, Who Received Degree in '65, Dies in Holden, Mass.". The New York Times: p. 24. 1940-07-19
  2. ^ "Amherst Boys in England: They Sing College Songs and Immensely Please the Britishers" (PDF). New York Times. 1894-07-29.
  3. ^ "Yankee Glees Abroad: Amherst College Singers Delight England". Boston Daily Globe: p. 20. 1894-08-05
  4. ^ "Amherst Clubs give Pleasing Program". The Washington Post: p. 10. 1927-03-26
  5. ^ "AMHERST SINGERS WIN; Take First Place in New England College Glee Club Contest". The New York Times: p.15. 1928-02-25
  6. ^ "'Little Three'" Win Glee Club Contest". Boston Daily Globe: p.7. 1935-03-02
  7. ^ a b "To Russia with Song". Amherst Alumni News: pp.15-20, Fall 1967
  8. ^ Amherst Alumni News: p.18. Fall 1969
  9. ^ "Kenya Visit". The Washington Post, Times Herald: p.C3. 1972-07-12
  10. ^ Amherst: The College and its Alumni: pp. 5-9. Fall 1972
  11. ^ a b "The Road to Fontainebleau," by Carl Oxholm III. Amherst: The College and its Alumni: pp. 18-22. Fall 1975.
  12. ^ "Other than the pyramids, Mr Gottlieb, how did you enjoy the tour?". Amherst Alumni News: pp. 18-21 and 67-70. Winter 1980
  13. ^ "Rainier Wins His Tiny Nation's Battles - Discreetly". Los Angeles Times: p. H4. 1979-08-29
  14. ^ "Coolidge's Son Sings Bass in Concert Here". The New York Times: p. 28. 1925-02-28.

External links[edit]