Pennsylvania State University Glee Club

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The Pennsylvania State University Glee Club is an all-male choral ensemble at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Founded in 1888, the Penn State Glee club is the oldest organization at Penn State consisting of 60-80 undergraduate and graduate men from all colleges of the University. The Glee Club performs several concerts each year and goes on a tour during spring break. The Glee Club performs a variety of music from Broadway to Classical music, and has its place in Penn State tradition by singing University fight songs and performing at numerous events. Dr. Christopher Kiver is the current director of the Penn State Glee Club.

History[edit]

The Penn State Glee Club was started by nine students came together to form the Penn State Glee Club and Banjo and Mandolin Society. Led by Dr. George C. Butz, the Glee Club begun their touring tradition in 1889 going to the nearby towns of Bellefonte, Tyrone, Huntingdon, Altoona, Clearfield, Philadelphia, and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Following Butz’s direction, the Glee Club fell under the new leadership of F.P. Atherton in 1889 followed by E.F. Davis in 1890. Charles M.H. Atherton then begun directing the Glee Club in 1893 until 1912. Under Atherton’s direction, the Glee Club performed music as well as comedic skits.

The Glee Club was next led by the first director of music at Penn State, Clarence C. Robinson who led the Glee Club from 1912-1922. Under Robinson’s direction, the Club went on a coast-to-coast tour via the Santa Fe Railroad. By this time the Glee Club had grown to about fifty members and included the select group, the Varsity Quartet. The Club also won many intercollegiate glee club competitions.

Dean Grant became the next director in 1922. The Glee Club continued to win several Pennsylvania State Championships and compete in the Intercollegiate Glee Club Eastern Division Contests, including champions in 1927 and 1935. In 1928 the Glee Club took its first European tour through places like England and France. The annual Mother’s Day Concerts were popular in attendance during this time. In 1934 the Hi-Lo’s were formed as a small ensemble. Originally known as the Hy-los the members were a select group from the membership of the Glee Club.

Frank Gullo was the next director and began his leadership in 1940 while Grant was on leave and officially became director in 1942. However, in 1945 with most men fighting in World War II, the Glee Club became inactive, but quickly resumed when the war was over. Besides the inactive period, the Glee Club kept its tradition of touring. The Glee Club began a transition from strictly comedic repertoire to begin singing more Renaissance pieces and English madrigals; however the novelty and humorous selections remained. Gullo ended his leadership in 1967 and was succeeded by Lewis Spratlan. Spratlan began a new Glee Club tradition of regularly joining with women’s choruses in joint concerts. In 1967 Douglas Miller became the new director of the Glee Club. Miller also founded the Penn State Concert choir and Chamber Singers.

In 1970 Bruce Trinkley became the next and longest running director of the glee club. For 35 years until 2005 Trinkley continued many Glee Club traditions including the spring break tours and varied musical selection. In 2005 Dr. Christopher Kiver began his direction of the Penn State Glee Club. Through his direction, the Glee Club has made many appearances in state, regional, and national conferences. Although historically performing mainly at Penn State’s Schwab Auditorium, the Glee Club now performs it’s on campus concerts in Eisenhower Auditorium. Dr. Kiver has also begun a new tradition, Men of Song, where many growing young men are invited from across the region to spend a day with the Glee Club to experience collegiate music making. Over the past few years this event has grown to include more and more middle and high school students every year.

In 2005 Dr. Christopher Kiver began his direction of the Penn State Glee Club. Through his direction, the Glee Club has made many appearances in state, regional, and national conferences. Although historically performing mainly at Penn State’s Schwab Auditorium, the Glee Club now performs it’s on campus concerts in Eisenhower Auditorium. Dr. Kiver has also begun a new tradition, Men of Song, where many growing young men are invited from across the region to spend a day with the Glee Club to experience collegiate music making. Over the past few years this event has grown to include more and more middle and high school students every year.

Directors[edit]

Name Years of Service
Dr. George C. Butz 1888
F.P. Atherton 1889
E. F. Davis 1890–1893
Charles M.H. Atherton 1893–1912
Clarence C. Robinson 1912–1922
Richard W. Grant 1922–1940
Frank Gullo 1940–1967
Lewis Spratlan 1967–1969
Douglas Miller 1969–1970
Bruce Trinkley 1970–2005
Dr. Christopher Kiver 2005 -

Hi-Lo's[edit]

Formed in 1934, the Hi-Los are a small subset of the Glee Club. The Hi-Los perform for many special occasions across the University. The group performs a cappella with light hearted and often comedic tunes. The Hi-Los have provided entertainment for University Presidents, alumni, donors, and others for more than 80 years. Many pieces performed by the Hi-Los have been arranged either by members of the Hi-Los or the Glee Club at large.

External links[edit]