Cornell University Glee Club

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Cornell University Glee Club
GC Seal.png
Seal of the Cornell University Glee Club
Background information
Origin Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
Years active 1868–present

The Cornell University Glee Club (CUGC) is the oldest student organization at Cornell University, having been organized shortly after the first students arrived on campus in 1868. The CUGC is a sixty-member chorus for male voices, with repertoire including classical, folk, 20th-century music, and traditional Cornell songs. The Glee Club also performs major works with the Cornell University Chorus such as Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Handel's Messiah, and Bach's Mass in B Minor.


  • Performances at two American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) conventions as an auditioned choir: the 2008 ACDA Eastern Division Convention in Hartford, CT, and the 2009 ACDA National Convention in Oklahoma City, OK.
  • First American collegiate ensemble to tour the Soviet Union, traveled to the Soviet Union and England from December 1960 to January 1961.[1]:126
  • Performed for national television and radio on such networks as Television Moscow, BBC, Educational Television Network, Radio Leningrad, Frankfurt Radio Network, Television Singapura, PBS, NBC, and others. Notable appearances include:[1] the Kate Smith TV Hour (1951),[2] The Perry Como Show (1954),[2] Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion (1997),[3] and The Price is Right (1999).[4]
  • Frequent domestic and international tours have traveled to over thirty-five states and nearly thirty countries across four continents.
  • First group to bring the Franz Biebl Ave Maria from Germany to the United States after meeting the composer during a recording session on the 1970 tour of Germany.[5]
  • Three month tour through East Asia in 1966 on an all-expense paid tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.[6]
  • 1989 tour of China was the focus of the PBS documentary Geographical Fugue.[7][dead link]
  • First published history of an American collegiate choral ensemble, Songs from the Hill: A History of the Cornell University Glee Club by Michael Slon, Class of 1992, was published in 1998.[1]


This list is complete and up-to-date as of August 2013.
  • 1889–1921: Hollis Ellsworth Dann
  • 1921–1942: Eric Sydney Dudley
  • 1942–1945: John Marinus Kuypers
  • 1945–1946: Paul John Weaver
  • 1946–1957: Thomas Brodhead Tracy '31
  • 1957–1995: Thomas Andrew Sokol
  • 1995–2012: Scott Arthur Tucker
  • 2012–2013: John Rowehl
  • 2013–present: Robert Isaacs

A cappella subsets[edit]

The Glee Club spawned several spinoff a capella subsets in the second half of the 20th century as collegiate a cappella emerged as a popular form of music. The club has only one official a cappella subset—The Hangovers—but two other spinoff groups, Cayuga's Waiters and The Sherwoods, still exist independently.

This list is complete and up-to-date as of March 2009.
  • Cayuga's Waiters (1949–present)
    • disassociated from Glee Club in 1956
  • The Sherwoods (1956–1973)
    • removed from Glee Club in 1958
    • alumni still perform annually at Reunions weekend
  • Glee Club Eight / Glee Club Octaves (1958–1966)
  • The Hangovers (1968–present)
    • continue to tour and perform within the CUGC and separately as the official a cappella subset
  • Leftovers (1971–1972)
    • merged with The Hangovers in 1972

Cayuga's Waiters[edit]

The Waiters formed as a subset of the Cornell University Glee Club in 1949 and debuted at the Glee Club's 1950 Junior Week concert.[1]:239 Although dressed in standard Glee Club attire (a tuxedo), they distinguished themselves from other Glee Club members by draping towels over their arms—a visual pun on their ensemble's name. Their repertoire included such popular songs as "Mood Indigo", "Mandy", "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye", and "Lord, If I Get My Ticket".[1]:239 By 1951, the group had become much in demand on campus for singing engagements, and they were also enthusiastically received by audiences when on tour with the Glee Club.[1]:239

The early 1950s were a busy and tumultuous period, as the young group had inadvertently stumbled into an entirely new industry. As Michael Slon wrote in his history of the Glee Club:

Prior to the Waiters the regimen of small group singing, traveling, and recording, completely familiar today, did not exist at Cornell. Not realizing they were pioneers, the new triple quartet set out by accepting local engagements on top of their Glee Club duties and soon found their popularity and activity were snowballing.[1]:240

In 1953, the Waiters conducted their first independent tour—to Bermuda's Harbor Castle Hotel—over the winter holidays, and in the same year, they recorded and cut their first record. In 1956, the Waiters decided they could no longer split their efforts between choral and small group singing and dissociated from the Glee Club.[8] Despite the shock of disassociation, both organizations went on to enjoy enormous success throughout the remainder of the 20th century.

The musical comedy "Pitch Perfect" was based on "Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory," a book written by Waiter Micky Rapkin '00

We Didn't Go To Harvard[edit]

In the mid 1990s, The Waiters wrote a parody to the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire". Their Parody garnered critical acclaim, claiming the #4 spot on Cornell's "161 Things to Do" list.[9] The song has received nearly 100,000 views on YouTube[10] and has inspired other groups to create parodies based on the same song [11]

Spring Fever[edit]

In 1974, The Waiters performed their first annual "Spring Fever" concert.[12] This show still takes place annually in the 1,300 seat Bailey Hall, and has sold out for the past 35 years.[13][14] The show has been mentioned on various blogs, including Slope Media, which described the show as "taking [...] A Cappella to another level"[15]


The Waiters have produced 25 albums in their 66 year tradition:

  • Cayuga's Waiters 51-52 (1952)
  • Cayuga's Waiters 53-54 (1954)
  • Cayuga's Waiters 54-55 (1955)
  • Cocktails For Twelve (1959)
  • Goodnight Little Girl (1961)
  • Presenting Cayuga's Waiters (1963)
  • Just Waitin' (1964)
  • Pow! (1966)
  • Lost In The Sound (1968)
  • Still Waitin' (1975)
  • Waitin' For You (1976)
  • Straight Break (1977)
  • 12° North (1983)
  • Laughed Out of Town (1986)
  • Maintaining the Illusion (1989)
  • Niko's Cafe (1993)
  • Live and Kicking (1996)
  • Channel Zero (1998)
  • Clothing Optional (1999)
  • Straight Outta C-town (2001)
  • Spring Fever 28 Ticket CD (2002)
  • The Forgotten Room (2003)
  • Wednesday Night (2004)
  • Stripped (2010)

The Sherwoods[edit]

First appearing at the Glee Club's 1956 fall concert, The Sherwoods of Cornell gained prominence quickly among collegiate musical groups. They embarked on their first international tour in the summer of 1957 (with an itinerary including Hawaii and the Far East) and by 1958, they were a successful act in great demand both on and off campus.[1]:242 This enormous success came at a price, however, and led to conflicts with the Glee Club, which had nominally remained The Sherwoods' parent organization during these formative years. In the fall of 1958, the two organizations split officially. Glee Club director Thomas Sokol later recalled that The Sherwoods had been "twelve of [his] best singers," and that losing them was a difficult—but necessary—step for both organizations.[1]:242

The Sherwoods toured extensively, traveling to Hawaii, the Far East, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, and Jamaica and on two extensive tours for the USO, entertaining troops in the Philippines, and throughout Germany (1964). They commonly wore dark (Sherwood) green jackets and ties for performances. Rather than sing stock arrangements, The Sherwoods wrote their own. They were known for rich 6-8 part harmony music unique among other a cappella groups of their time. Four members accounted for most of their arrangements: Jack Wade '58, Frank Holden '62, Fred Kewley '65, and Dan Murray '70 whose arrangements are numerous on the final Sherwood LP, "Green" (1971). Holden (resident of Duxbury, MA) and Kewley (a manager of music professionals in Nashville, TN) are now both music directors for two large groups of alumni Sherwoods they call "The Founders" (singers from classes of '58–'63) and "The Youngers" (singers from classes of '64–'74). Kewley succumbed to pancreatic cancer on June 23, 2013. Eighteen of his Sherwoods traveled to Nashville, TN to join family and friends in a memorial service to honor him. Taking Kewley's place as Sherwoods music director is David Hunter '68. Ron Johnson '68 continues on as business manager. The group intends to continue singing at Cornell's annual reunion each June, and elsewhere, upon demand.

The popularity of a cappella singing faded for a period in the early 1970s and The Sherwoods stopped auditioning new members in 1973. 1973 also marked the final year in which the Sherwoods were featured in The Cornellian, Cornell University's annual year book.[1]:242

In 1985 The Class of '65 invited the 'Younger' Sherwoods back to Cornell to entertain them at their 20th reunion. It was the first time in twenty years The Youngers had met to re-learn their songs and practice their entertaining introductions. The 'Younger' Sherwoods have been returning to Cornell's Ithaca campus to perform at reunions every year since 1985, celebrating their 26th annual shows in 2010, once again entertaining the Class of '65, this time at the class's 45th reunion.[1]:242

The 'Founders' Sherwoods gather at various times during the year, continuing to practice and perform the repertoire they sang during their era at Cornell. Between the two Sherwoods groups there are about 45 active Sherwood singers performing today.

The Sherwoods released seven albums during their undergraduate years; more recently they have produced two re-mastered compilation CDs entitled "Try to Remember - The Reunion Album" and "Old Friends". The Sherwoods continue to look for opportunities to perform. Business manager is Ron Johnson '68 of Hingham, MA.

Noted hit singer/songwriter Harry Chapin sang with the Sherwoods for several years, writing two songs performed by the group, 'Let me Down Easy' and 'Winter Song'. As an undergraduate, Chapin was preoccupied with his prolific songwriting, and he eventually dropped out of Cornell University to focus on his early career as a successful singer-songwriter. In 1971 Fred Kewley, Sherwood musical director, became Chapin's manager through the best years of his career, from landing the recording contract with Elektra through his hits Taxi, WOLD, and Cats In The Cradle, etc., and the hundreds of concerts around the USA and Europe his music spawned.

The Hangovers[edit]

The Hangovers are the current a cappella subset of the Cornell University Glee Club,[16] founded in 1968.[17] The Hangovers' repertoire consists mainly of popular songs arranged for a cappella by members and alumni of the group, but they also perform traditional Cornell songs,[18] as well as selections from the Glee Club repertoire on occasion.[19] The group's name is taken from the name that was given to fifth-year students in Cornell's five-year architecture and engineering programs of the '60s. After their fourth (senior) year, students in these programs had to hang over an additional year to complete their degrees. Several of the group's original members were "hangovers" in this sense at the time of the group's formation.[20][21] The double entendre of the more widely accepted meaning of the word is intentional, and is a theme carried on in the titles of the ensemble's concerts[21][22] and albums.[23][24]

The Hangovers have competed in international competitions such as the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, advancing to the semifinals in 2001. The Hangovers can be heard on the PBS American Experience documentary "Rescue at Sea."[25] The Hangovers have performed for Helmut Schmidt, the widow of Anwar Sadat, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger, Cornell alumna Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ladysmith Black Mambazo,and other notables.

The Hangovers have two major on-campus concerts every year, one in the Fall and one in the late Spring. The Fall concert is named Fall Tonic, a title resurrected in and used since 1980 in homage to the Cornell Sherwoods, who had an annual autumn concert of the same title.[26] Their annual spring concert, first put on in 1993, is known as Happy Hour.

Hangovers performances and tours take place around campus, around the country, and around the world, and are undertaken in addition to the performances and travels its members are involved in as members of the Glee Club (below). Their first solo tour was to Bermuda in 1971. Subsequent tours have been undertaken to Antigua, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland.[27] On their 1995 tour to Japan, the Hangovers received attention by donating half of their tour profits to the Kobe Earthquake Relief Fund;[28] another tour had them performing at the Seoul National Arts Center as a guest group for the Seoul National Orchestra.[29] They have appeared on stage at Tokyo Disneyland (March 1995), on Tokyo's InterFM (March 1996), on the Brazilian national evening news, Jornal Nacional (March 2004), at a sold-out performance at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. (January 2006),[30] and at many other venues and media outlets across the globe.

Hangovers Recordings include thirteen released albums, the last seven on compact disc:

  • The Hangovers (1970; re-released in 2001 on CD)
  • Slightly Sober (1979)
  • Facetime (1981)
  • Hangin' Out (1984)
  • Cheers (1986)
  • Behind Bars (1989)
  • On The Rocks (1994)
  • Moonshine (1996)
  • Spirits (1999)
  • Shot In The Dark (2001)
  • Vintage (2004)
  • Blackout (2005)
  • Three Sheets to the Wind (2008)
  • Final Draught (2013)

In 1980, their original single titled "Facetime" received national recognition and earned mention in Yale's "Guide to Selective Colleges." The 2008 album Three Sheets to the Wind received four award nominations for the 2009 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards: Best Male Collegiate Album, Best Humor Song ("You Got a 'C' "), Best Male Collegiate Solo (Evan Graham for "Ignition (Remix)"), and Best Hip-Hop/R&B Song ("Ignition (Remix)").[31] "Ignition (Remix)" was also featured on the 2009 Best of College A Cappella compilation album.[32]

Glee Club international tours[edit]

This list is complete and up-to-date as of July 2014.

The CUGC has performed as an ensemble in twenty-five different countries.


The seal[edit]

Adopted as the official emblem of the Glee Club by Thomas A. Sokol shortly after he became director, the CUGC seal features the head of Apollo, the Greek god of music and poetry. It also recalls the well-known glee Glorious Apollo by Samuel Webbe.[1]:261–262


"The excellent impression made by the 60 young men was of a finely finished vocalism from beginning to end of their a cappella program."

Robert P. Commanday, music critic of The San Francisco Chronicle from 1965 to 1993, in a San Francisco Classical Voice review of the Glee Club's performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on January 8, 2011.[33]

"Throw out all stereotypes. The Cornell University Glee Club has developed a virtuosic choral sound that has far more in common with the King's Singers than 40 guys with a keg."

Alfred Thigpen of the Washington Post in a review of the Glee Club's performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. on January 9, 2010.[34]

"I want to send you my heartiest congratulations on your superb singing...I do not exaggerate when I say you made choral history, and I hope sincerely that before long we can again make music together."

Eugene Ormandy, in a letter to the Glee Club and Chorus, after conducting a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony by the Glee Club, Chorus, and Philadelphia Orchestra on October 9th and 10th, 1962.[1]:130

"This is the most exciting moment in my eight years as Governor of New York."

Nelson Rockefeller after hearing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony performed by the Cornell Glee Club, Chorus, and the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Eugene Ormandy for the opening of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, August 4, 1966.[1]:131

Notable CUGC alumni[edit]


The Glee Club has given the world and American premieres of many works for male chorus, written by a variety of notable composers.

World premieres include works by:

American premieres include works by:

Commissioning Endowment[edit]

In 2005, the Glee Club established the Thomas A. Sokol Commissioning Endowment in recognition of the 75th birthday of Director Emeritus Thomas Sokol. The proceeds help fund an annual commission from a well-known composer of a new work (or works), typically premiered by the Glee Club during the fall Homecoming weekend concert. Sokol Commission recipients to date include:

This list is complete and up-to-date as of December 2009.


  • Alma Mater and Cornell, Columbia Phonograph Company No. A-1503, (1914, 78 RPM)[35]
  • Alma Mater and Crew Song (1929, 78 RPM), Victor Records No. 21934 - also includes orchestral selections[36][37][38]
  • Cornell Songs (1940, 3-disc set of 12" records) - includes two discs by the Glee Club and a third by the Chimes[39]
  • Cornell Music (1950s, 33 RPM LP) - includes selections by Glee Club, Chimes, and Concert Band
    • During the 1950s, the Glee Club released recordings on a near-annual basis through the Cornell Recording Society.[40]
  • Songs of Cornell (19XX, 33 RPM LP)
  • Songs of Cornell (19XX, compact disc)
  • A Concert of Cathedral Music (19XX, compact disc)
  • Echos From The Walls (1997, compact disc)
  • Pacem (2006, compact disc)
  • Last Letter Home (2011, compact disc & electronic release)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Slon, Michael (1998). Songs from the Hill: a history of the Cornell University Glee Club. Cornell University Glee Club. ISBN 978-0-9620103-1-6. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Corey Ryan Earle (1890–1986). "Guide to the Cornell University Glee Club Records, 1890-1986" (Correspondence, programs, scrapbooks, photographs, notebooks, recordings, miscellany.). Collection Number: 37-6-2399. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  3. ^ Prairie Home Companion Episode Guide
  4. ^ View the Glee Club on The Price is Right
  5. ^ Program notes by Dr. Wilbur Skeels detailing the Ave Maria's history
  6. ^ "1966 Cornell Glee Club alumni celebrate historic Asian tour with Homecoming performance"
  7. ^ Link to the bio of writer/producer/director Dan Booth
  8. ^ "Waiters Quit Choral Group" (LXXIII). Cornell Daily Sun. September 21, 1956. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "161 Things to Do". Cornell Daily Sun. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Cayuga's Waiters - We Didn't Go To Harvard". YouTube. rr23450. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "We Didn't Go To Western - FINAL VERSION". YouTube. The Thunderdome 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Seventh Annual Spring Fever". Cornell Daily Sun (XCVII). Cornell Universery. April 21, 1981. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Cayuga's Waiters' Spring Fever XL". Swidjit. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  14. ^ Newkirk, Heather. "Interview: "Pitch Perfect Writer Micky Ripkin". The Contemporary Acapella Society. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "161 and Counting". Slope Media. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Summary of the Hangovers' connection with the Cornell University Glee Club at the Glee Club's web site.
  17. ^ Hangovers Perform Across Europe, The Cornell Daily Sun, 8/26/2002.
  18. ^ "Keeping Cornell's Traditions Alive," The Cornell Daily Sun, 10/14/2003.
  19. ^ Hangovers' Frequently Asked Questions page at
  20. ^ A brief history of the Hangovers, from
  21. ^ a b "Drunk With Talent: This Saturday you'll have a most pleasant hangover", The Cornell Daily Sun, November 15, 2000.
  22. ^ The 25 Most Influential, The Cornell Daily Sun, 11/29/2000. The article discusses the endeavors of Sam Bradford '02, then-president of the Hangovers.
  23. ^ The Hangovers Recordings page at
  24. ^ The Recorded A Cappella Review Board review of the Hangovers album Blackout
  25. ^ The Hangovers credited for performing on PBS' American Experience: Rescue At Sea performing "Jack Binns", a song written by a member of the Hangovers and recorded for the show.
  26. ^ Slon, Michael (1998). Songs From the Hill. Cornell University Glee Club. 
  27. ^ The Hangovers' tour log at, chronicling recent European tours
  28. ^ "Gleeful Hangovers", The Daily Yomiuri, March 12, 1995.
  29. ^ Glee Club's a cappella Hangovers touring Japan and South Korea, The Cornell Chronicle, 3/19/1998
  30. ^ Cornell Club of Washington (January 7, 2006), Cornell Glee Club and Hangovers at the French Embassy 
  31. ^ Contemporary A Cappella Society, "2009 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award Nominees." Last accessed February 1, 2009.
  32. ^ Varsity Vocals, "Best of College A Cappella." Last accessed February 1, 2009.
  33. ^ "Alive, Awake, and Singing". San Francisco Classical Voice. January 8, 2011. 
  34. ^ "Cornell University Glee Club hits plenty of high notes at the Kennedy Center". The Washington Post. January 11, 2010. 
  35. ^ Cornell Daily Sun, Columbia Records by the Glee Club, January 5, 1914, Page 1
  36. ^ Cornell Daily Sun, Record Made By Music Clubs Now Available, April 26, 1929, Page 2
  37. ^ Cornell Daily Sun, Advertisement by Lent's Music Store, April 26, 1929, Page 7
  38. ^ Victor Discography, Matrix BVE-51129, Alma mater / Cornell University. Glee Club; Eric Dudley (identifies recording date as April 5, 1929 at Liederkranz Hall in New York City, with ensemble consisting of 7 first tenors, 9 second tenors, 8 baritones, and 8 basses)
  39. ^ Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell Chimes Records On Sale, October 8, 1940, Page 1
  40. ^ Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell Establishment Produces Own Records, April 20, 1954, Page 6