Ohio State University Men's Glee Club
The Ohio State University Men's Glee Club
The OSUMGC Crest
|Origin||Columbus, Ohio, US|
The Ohio State University Men's Glee Club is an all-male choral ensemble at The Ohio State University. Officially founded in 1875, the Men's Glee Club is one of the oldest student organizations on Ohio State's campus and is the 12th oldest collegiate glee club in the United States. The group has garnered many accolades, most notably winning Choir of the World 1990 from the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. They were the first all-male choir and the first choir from the United States to do so since modern competition began in 1987.
Membership consists of Ohio State Students auditioned from all academic colleges within the university. The current director is Robert J. Ward, who is also the Director of Choral Activities at Ohio State. He has held the position since 2004, before which he was a member of the music faculty at Oklahoma State University for sixteen years.
- 1 History
- 2 The Glee Club Today
- 3 Leadership
- 4 Current Discography
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The informal beginnings of the Men's Glee Club date back to 1873, the first year the university was open to students. At the time, the group was little more than a social club, but by 1875, with the opening of the North Dorms, Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern, began making significant references to an organized chorus operating within the dorms. Since the dorms would have been occupied solely by men, it is likely that the membership of this chorus significantly overlapped with the Glee Club. Although dates listed on early recorded albums corroborate the Men's Glee Club's founding date of 1873, the official date is listed as 1875 due to the foundation of the North Dorms chorus. Thus, the Men's Glee Club is the second-oldest currently active student organization on Ohio State's campus, the oldest being the Agricultural Education Society.
Throughout the 1880s, the Glee Club failed to reorganize many times due to apathy from the student body, despite the popular sentiment that a Glee Club was one of the most important aspects of collegiate social life. However, the arrival of football on Ohio State's campus revitalized interest in the choral arts as a means of raising school spirit at sporting events. Specifically, the growing collection of school songs and yells demanded a Glee Club to sing them. By 1890, the Glee Club was reorganized and began writing and performing many school songs, including the oldest college yell still in use at Ohio State:
The Glee Club quickly gained esteem and was called on to perform for the Secretary of State during the summer of 1890. Such widespread support for the Glee Club directly inspired the assembly of the first University Orchestra during the next school year. The Glee Club's support for other extracurricular endeavors continued into 1891 when Kate E. Morhart became the first woman, first freshman, and first Ohio State student to win the state oratory competition, thanks in part to a Glee Club performance that put Kate's audience into a more receptive and jovial mindset.
Continued apathy toward organized musical groups, combined with a membership that was struggling academically, promised to doom Men's Glee Club to obscurity by the end of the century. Luckily, an initiative headed by professor William Lloyd Evans, Walter Von Steck Snyder, and Charles Herbert sought to permanently re-form the Glee Club on October 13, 1895. Evans became the group's first official director, and under his leadership, the group began giving performances that were said to be "in every way particular all that could be desired…a success from start to finish" and were said to attract "the best culture of city and University".
Word of the Men's Glee Club's fame continued to spread. By the end of 1896, their musical superiority caused visiting members of the Yale Men's Glee Club to ask the men from Ohio State to postpone a concert that was scheduled for the same night as a concert from the Yale Men's Glee Club "for fear they [would] prove too much of a counter-attraction". The second official director of the Glee Club, Charles Welton Gayman, became the first truly prominent director of the club. His focus on community outreach led him to take the club on their first multi-stop tour around the state of Ohio during the 1898-1899 school year. He also introduced the (currently defunct) tradition of the Glee Club taking part in musical theater productions by having them put on a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore.
Perhaps most important, in 1900, Gayman pushed the Glee Club to compile and publish Songs of the Scarlet and Gray, the first official songbook of The Ohio State University. Although it initially proved to be commercially unsuccessful, it was nonetheless reprised in 1904 with a second edition containing additional material. The need for a school songbook can best be summed up by the book's preface:
- Of the one hundred and two songs in the present edition, forty-two belong distinctly to the Ohio State University, which is an unusually large percentage of Alma Mater songs in such works, and which is noteworthy, considering the actual and the traditional status of college music at O.S.U. More than a dozen of these songs have never before been published. Several national hymns and patriotic songs have been included among the songs which every loyal college student knows and loves to sing. While this edition might be greatly improved, it is still hoped that it will fulfill the purpose for which it is designed: —the purpose of affording a means of increasing the pleasures of our college life, and perhaps, a means of enlivening and ennobling the college spirit which prevails among the hundreds who proudly affirm their allegiance to the Scarlet and Gray.
One of the most monumental improvements to Songs of the Scarlet and Gray came in 1903. On December 11, the Men's Glee Club gave a joint concert with the Women's Glee Club, the first of its kind since the formation of the Women's Glee Club earlier that year. The performance ended with the debut of Ohio State's Alma Mater, "Carmen Ohio". The circumstances surrounding the concert were far more dubious than the eventual outcome. Continued apathy from students caused Glee Club membership to dwindle by 1901, eventually forcing them to combine with the Guitar and Mandolin Club. However, the merger, along with support from Alfred Rogerson Barrington, the first official professor of music and eventual inaugural head of the music department, eventually brought the Men's Glee Club back into a place of prominence. The collaboration with the Women's Glee Club was out of necessity since their newly formed group did not yet have enough material prepared to allow the women to put on their own full concert. In particular, the music, which was adapted from the well-known "Spanish Hymn," was carefully chosen:
- Now, 20 years later, I cannot recall just where and when, with pencil and pen, at home or on the campus, the text was composed…The ease of singing the Spanish Hymn accounts for much of its use…Other music was considered and discharged, both original and adapted; all of us know the hymn;…There is a real and lasting quality about such simple harmonies that lends dignity to the phrases.
Although initially well received, the song was lost for a few years. Eventually, The Lantern re-published it before the 1906 football game against Michigan, solidifying its significance and leading to its adoption as Ohio State's official Alma Mater. In fact, the Men's Glee Club premiered two songs in the concert about their Alma Mater, though only one would make a lasting impression:
- Two compositions written for this concert found place on the program, a Hymn to Ohio, used as the opening number, and Carmen Ohio, with words and music by F. A. Cornell, ’06, the closing song. This last song might well be made a part of every glee club program, as it has all the elements of a good college chorus, easily sung and easily remembered words, and a simple, catching air. We have too few songs to call our own.
Early to Mid 1900's
Under the direction of A.R. Barrington, the Men's Glee Club became a regular fixture on Ohio State's campus. Their notoriety inspired both John Philip Sousa and Victor Herbert to serve as guest directors in 1910. As the Glee Club continued to contribute to the growing collection of Ohio State songs, the Ohio State University Association (currently known as the Ohio State University Alumni Association) would continue where Songs of the Scarlet and Gray left off by publishing Ohio State's second official songbook, Songs of Ohio State University, in 1916. Later given a second edition in 1923, this book included modern Ohio State fight songs such as "Across the Field" and "Buckeye Battle Cry".
World War I forced the Glee Club to temporarily disband in 1918 (as World War II would also force it to do in 1945), but the ensemble eventually reorganized by February 1919. The Glee Club's earliest known recording was made in 1926 at the Victor laboratory during a tour to Camden, New Jersey. In 1929, the Glee Club participated in their first series of choral competitions. They won Ohio’s statewide intercollegiate contest, going on the next week to participate in the National Intercollegiate Contest held in Carnegie Hall. Dartmouth won the competition, but the men from Ohio State placed third, finishing ahead of Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. The next year, they placed second, after a recount of the score left them trailing George Washington University by 0.4 points.
During the 1930’s, the Men’s Glee Club often had no formal director. Instead, the group was divided into two subgroups, one for underclassmen and one for upperclassmen. The subgroups were often led by student directors, much as the Glee Club had been during its formative years in the late 1800’s. When Ohio State’s department of music became the School of Music in 1945, it reorganized the Men’s Glee Club into an official School of Music choral ensemble. This meant that the group was now a credit-granting class and students who wished to join now had to register for it as they would any other class. The group also retained its registration with the Ohio Union as a student organization. This dual registration granted the Men’s Glee Club a unique position that is shared by only a few other student organizations, such as the Women’s Glee Club.
On March 24, 1957, the Men’s Glee Club made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The next year, they appeared on The Voice of Firestone. In 1965, shortly after the premier of The Ohio State University Marching Band's arrangement of "Hang On Sloopy", the Men’s Glee Club joined the Marching Band on the football field to perform a choral arrangement of "Hang On Sloopy" during a halftime show. This performance was the first of only four collaborations between the Marching Band and the Men's Glee Club; the second would not happen for more than 40 years. Other notable performances from this era include singing at the United States Capitol in 1969 and 1977, as well as singing for the Rose Bowl and National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame banquet in 1970.
Late 1900's to Present
The Men's Glee Club performed under the baton of Robert Shaw in 1984, 1993, and 1994. They also performed in the Washington National Cathedral in 1988. Overseas trips to England and Wales occurred in 1990, and again in 1995, to compete in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. In 1991, the Glee Club performed on the Hour of Power television program, based out of Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. In 1994, they shared the stage with theater greats like Lauren Bacall and Tommy Tune in a television tribute to Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Two more international tours occurred in 1999 and 2002, when the group traveled to Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Italy. The Men's Glee Club often shares the stage with other local choruses as well, including the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, the Bowling Green Men's Chorus, and the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus. When touring locally, the Glee Club makes a point to travel to middle schools, high schools, and churches within the area to promote singing and musicianship.
The Men's Glee Club has been chosen to sing at various musical conferences throughout the years. They have sung at: regional American Choral Directors Association conventions in 1986, 1988, 1990, 1994, 2010, and 2014; the national American Choral Directors Association convention in 1985 and 1999; the Music Educators National Conference in 1988 and 1994; the Ohio Music Education Association conference in 2012; the Ohio Choral Directors Association conference in 2007; and the national seminars of the Intercollegiate Male Choruses in 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2014.
These trips have taken them all over the United States, to locations including Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Hilton Head, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Glee Club returned to Ohio Stadium to sing with the Marching Band for a halftime show in 2006, their first collaboration in over 40 years. They also sang with the Marching Band for a halftime show in 2010 commemorating the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and another halftime show in 2013 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.
The most distinguished of the Men's Glee Club's achievements is winning Choir of the World 1990 from the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales under the direction of Professor James Gallagher. They were the first all-male choir and the first choir from the United States to do so since modern competition began in 1987. During the competition, the Glee Club won the male chorus division by 20 points, then went on to win the overall competition through a unanimous secret ballot by nine judges from eight different countries. The Men's Glee Club also competed in the competition in 1995, placing second in the male chorus division that year.
List of Directors
(Note: an asterisk* by a name indicates a temporary, unofficial, interim, or guest director)
|1891-1892||Eugene E. Davis*|
|1895-1897||William Lloyd Evans|
|1897||George K. Dowd*|
|1898-1901||Charles Welton Gayman|
|1901||Roscoe C. Skiles*|
|1910||John Phillip Sousa*|
|1919-1928||Karl H. Hoenig|
|1977-1981||J. Eugene McKinley*|
|2004–present||Robert J. Ward|
The Glee Club Today
Today, the Men's Glee Club consists of approximately 75 singers. The majority of the singers are undergraduates, but the Glee Club is open to graduate students. The Men's Glee Club describes itself as a "brotherhood that commits itself to excellence through artistry, achievement in academics, and outreach to the community." They have also taken part in School of Music masterwork performances. These large-scale works combine both choral and instrumental ensembles in order to put on famous pieces such as Mozart's Requiem or Verdi's Requiem.
Weigel Hall on Ohio State's campus is where the Men's Glee Club both practices and performs. Rehearsal consists of one 55-minute class three times a week. This semester-long class is taken for variable credit hours and participants receive a letter grade. Like all other School of Music ensembles, the course fulfills no degree requirements other than an ensemble participation requirement for music majors. Occasionally, extra rehearsals will be scheduled in order to introduce new members to Glee Club traditions or to do a dress rehearsal of upcoming concerts. 
Performance attire consists of: a scarlet-colored blazer with the Men's Glee Club crest emblazoned on the front; medium heather gray slacks; a long-sleeved white button-up dress shirt without buttons on the collar; a white undershirt; the Men's Glee Club tie, which is cut from scarlet and grey striped fabric that features the crest; a black belt; black socks; and black shoes. All attire is purchased by members except for the blazers, which are owned by the club. At the end of their first year, members are given a pin to wear on the lapel of their blazer, which signifies their continuing contribution to the club.
Travel attire is often worn on long bus trips or for less formal performances, and consists of: a black polo with the crest emblazoned on the front; medium heather gray slacks; a white undershirt; a black belt; black socks; and black shoes. A new crest was introduced in 2014 as part of the Decade of Distinction concert that celebrated Dr. Ward's tenth year at Ohio State.
From within the Glee Club, the Statesmen are a small a cappella ensemble that are auditioned separately from the rest of the Glee Club. Their repertoire usually consists of moderate to difficult modern tunes or songs with a generally "lighter" tone compared to the more classical repertoire of the Glee Club. The Statesmen consists of 13 to 18 singers, and in addition to participating in all Glee Club rehearsals, they also hold their own rehearsals outside of class for 2 to 3 hours per week.
The Statesmen are often hired to perform at venues that are too small to hold the entire Glee Club or cannot afford to transport the entire Glee Club. They are also usually featured during Glee Club concerts. The director for the Statesmen varies from year to year, and could be a professor or accompanist from the School of Music, a guest lecturer from another school, or current undergraduate or graduate students within the School of Music.
The Ohio State University Men's Glee Club Alumni Society is an active choir based out of Columbus, Ohio. With membership consisting of community members who were in the Men's Glee Club during their time at Ohio State, the Alumni Society presents regular reunion concerts and sings at various run-outs in the Columbus area, sometimes joining up with the current membership of the Men's Glee Club. The Alumni Society also maintains various endowments in order to provide scholarships to current Glee Club members.
The Men's Glee Club has collected many traditions throughout its history. The most long-lived tradition is that of singing the Buckeye Tunes to end every performance. The Buckeye Tunes consist of four Ohio State songs that have been written at various points in Ohio State's history: "Buckeye Battle Cry", "Campus Echoes", "Carmen Ohio", and "Hang On Sloopy". "Campus Echoes" is a medley that was written in 1952 specifically for the Glee Club by then-director Norman Staiger and Ohio State Marching Band composer Richard "Dick" Heine.
"Campus Echoes" contains many of the school songs that had been made popular by the marching band over the previous few decades, including "Round on the End and High in the Middle", "I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State", and "Across the Field". Most notably, "Campus Echoes" opens with an arrangement of "Wahoo! Wahoo!", a yell written around 1889. Since "Campus Echoes" is still being performed today, that makes the over-125-year-old "Wahoo! Wahoo!" the oldest school song/yell still in use.
In addition to being performed in concerts, the Buckeye Tunes are also used for many less-formal run-outs. The most common type of run-out involves tailgating during football season. During every home game, the Men's Glee Club meets together around three hours before kick-off and then travels around campus, stopping at various spots to perform the Buckeye Tunes. Common stops include the Ohio Union, the Faculty Club, Thompson Library, Tuttle Parking Garage, Ohio Stadium, and the Blackwell Inn. At many of these stops, CD's containing the Glee Club's various recordings are sold, making tailgating a major Men's Glee Club fundraiser.
Another common use of the Buckeye Tunes is for Oval Singing. When weather permits, after Friday rehearsals, the Men's Glee Club heads out onto the Oval to perform the Buckeye Tunes for passers-by. When weather does not permit, such as during the winter, the Glee Club will occasionally head instead to the Ohio Union to perform. In particular, "Carmen Ohio" is performed on its own for other occasions. One such occasion in upon returning from a tour or bus trip. After unloading the buses, all the men gather in Mortar Board Court outside of Weigel Hall and sing Carmen.
Another occasion for the performance of Carmen is at the end-of-year Glee Club banquet. The banquet itself involves the handing out of many awards and superlatives, statements from the conductor and outgoing student officers, and ends with singing all three verses of "Carmen Ohio". This rendition of Carmen is often significant for many Glee Club members because it is both their last chance to sing with the group for the year, and it is also one of the few opportunities to sing all three verses of Carmen at once.
One non-musical tradition upheld by members is that of snapping their fingers instead of clapping to show approval or commendation. This tradition started when the Glee Club performed at a Catholic girls’ school where clapping was prohibited. In response to the Glee Club's performance, the girls instead wildly snapped their fingers. The Glee Club was so moved by the response, they immediately appropriated the tradition and have since continued to uphold it.
The most prestigious award given to a Glee Club member is the James Gallagher Spirit Award. According to the official student handbook:
- The award is given, by a vote of the membership, to an individual with at least three years of service to the group. The winner should be the member who best demonstrates a devotion to excellence, who exudes the pride associated with being a Buckeye, and moreover a member of the OSU Men’s Glee Club. Their commitment to the love and betterment of the organization should have been evident in all his actions.
The following is a list of all Spirit Award winners:
|2007-2008||Nicholas G. Marconi|
The current musical director and conductor of the Men's Glee Club is Robert J. Ward. Dr. Ward came to Ohio State in 2004, prior to which he was a member of the music faculty at Oklahoma State University for 16 years. He also serves as the Director of Choral Activities at Ohio State, conducts the Ohio State Chorale, and teaches courses in conducting and choral literature.
Additionally, Dr. Ward serves as the editor of both a children's choral music series and a men's choral music series published by Santa Barbara Music Publishers. The Robert J. Ward Choral Series contains over 30 pieces for men's, women's, and mixed choirs. Currently, 10 pieces in the series have been dedicated to, recorded by, or commissioned for the Men's Glee Club:
- "And Draw Her Home with Music", by Nancy Hill Cobb
- "Bright Morning Stars", arranged by Shawn Kirchner
- "Down by the Riverside", arranged by Brant Adams
- "In Exitu Israel", edited by Martin Banner
- "Invictus", by Nancy Hill Cobb
- "Musica!", by Brant Adams
- "Ose Shalom", arranged by Brant Adams
- "Prayer of Black Elk", by Karen P. Thomas
- "Solstice", by Tim Sarsany
- "Terminus", by Nancy Hill Cobb
Notably, Dr. Ward has ties to three of the above composers: Brant Adams, who was a colleague of Dr. Ward's at Oklahoma State; Nancy Hill Cobb, who was a peer of Dr. Ward's during his time at Michigan State University; and Tim Sarsany, who was a student of Dr. Ward's at Ohio State.
The School of Music employs full-time accompanists for all choral ensembles. The current accompanist for the Men's Glee Club is Casey L. Cook, principal accompanist for the School of Music choral program. Ms. Cook was educated at the Eastman School of Music and also currently serves as the pianist for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra Chorus, a position she has held since 2000. She is also currently an associate member of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
As a student organization, the Men's Glee Club maintains a group of student officers who perform various duties and are responsible for much of the day-to-day operation of the Glee Club. The Executive Board consists of the President, the Vice President of Musicianship, the Vice President of Finance, the Vice President of Operations, and the Vice President of Communications. All Executive Board officers are elected by popular vote at the end of the current school year for the upcoming one. To run for President, a Men's Glee Club member must be entering at least his third year with the group. Each Executive Board member selects a committee to aid them in carrying out their duties. The following are the officer duties as outlined in the student handbook:
Executive Board Positions
- President: The President is responsible for organizing and facilitating all executive meetings. He serves as the primary contact for the conductor and the university at large, particularly concerning MGC's Student Organization status through the Ohio Union. He holds a de facto position on all committees, assists in appointing committee members, and manages large-scale projects and trips alongside the conductor.
- Vice President of Musicianship: The VP of Musicianship raises the musicality and artfulness of the ensemble as a whole. He manages section leaders and their daily attendance, and he oversees all aspects of autumn tailgates. The VP of Musicianship serves as the primary contact for the Statesmen, graduate student leadership, and the music library. He is responsible for posting translations and other music to the Carmen webpage, assisting the conductor with recording procedures, and managing the bell choir along with the VP of Operations.
- Vice President of Finance: The VP of Finance funds the initiatives of MGC through the accounts he manages alongside the conductor. He is responsible for all money flowing into and out of the organization, especially for matters of apparel, wardrobe, awards, and recording sales, working with the VP of Musicianship for the latter-most. He represents the MGC on all financial considerations after the conductor and reports the status of all MGC accounts to the conductor and Executive Board.
- Vice President of Operations: The VP of Operations supervises behind-the-scenes logistics to provide a seamless and meaningful MGC experience for members. He oversees all equipment related to rehearsals and performances with the conductor as well as its transportation, and he supervises all events and parties associated with MGC. The VP of Operations over-sees planning and execution of the annual Spring Banquet along with the VP of Finance, and directs the First Year Member Experience, particularly through the Brothers in Song Program.
- Vice President of Communications: The VP of Communications furthers the reach and impact of MGC on the world stage. He operates all social media platforms affiliated with MGC, receiving event-specific help from the VP of Operations, and upkeeps its website. The VP of Communications crafts all emails representing MGC under the conductor's supervision. Serving as MGC Historian (supervising any work with University Archives), he also oversees Alumni relations and all photography related to MGC.
- Section Leaders: Responsible for recording attendance at rehearsals and concerts.
- Social Chair: Expected to aid Vice President and Executive Board in planning social events for the group. With help of the Executive Board, the Social Chair may form a committee to aid in event planning. The social chair may request funds from the Treasurer to offset the cost of club events.
- Wardrobe Manager: Responsible for the distribution, collection, and maintenance of uniform components not purchased by group members. Also manages purchased uniform components with assistance of the Treasurer.
- Property Manager: Assists the conductor in planning the movement of performance equipment on campus and on the road. The Property Manager also assigns individuals to assist with logistics.
- Alumni Representative: The primary conduit of communication between the current club and the Alumni Society. The Alumni Representative attends Alumni Glee Club meetings and, in conjunction with the conductor, should communicate with the Alumni Glee Club and invite Alumni to Glee Club events.
- CD Manager: Directs the sale and distribution of the Glee Club CD's. The CD manager shall be appointed an assistant by the Executive Board to aid in his responsibilities. The CD manager may appoint additional members to assist in the sale of CDs during tailgates and concerts.
- Recruitment and Retention Chair: Responsible for the membership experience of the group for both joining and returning members. Responsibilities include organizing the Glee Club's presence at the Student Involvement Fair and coordinating the subsequent cookout. A committee may be formed to aid in the chair's duties.
- Historian: Responsible for maintaining the written history of the Glee Club and to continue to document the group's activity. He should take pictures at Glee Club events in order to preserve the history of the club. The Historian should work closely with the Women's Glee Club Historian to create an all-encompassing history of the two groups.
- Webmaster/Social Media Chair: Responsible for keeping the Glee Club website up to date at all times throughout the year (including summer). He should work closely with the Executive Board and the conductor to keep information as up to date as possible. He should also work closely with the Historian to keep pictures on the website current.
- Librarian: Responsible for distributing music at the beginning of the season and collecting and filing music at the end of the season.
The Men's Glee Club currently offers a selection of recent recordings available to purchase on CD. All of these recordings can be found on their website's store and certain recordings can be found for digital download on iTunes. Current recordings available for sale include:
|2016||How Can I Keep From Singing?|
|2014||A Decade of Distinction|
|2006||Brothers In Song|
|2000||125th Anniversary Celebration|
|1996||How Firm Thy Friendship|
|1993||With One Voice|
|1990||Choir of the World|
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