Glee Club Gala is Oct. 21
It was an auspicious start for the Occidental Glee Club, which on Oct. 26, 1906, made its first appearance at the inauguration of College President John Willis Baer.
The group "won great applause and so much appreciation," the Los Angeles Times reported. "This is a promising band of young musicians." Among the eight charter members was Clarence Spaulding '07, Occidental's first Rhodes Scholar.
A century later, the College will celebrate the Glee Club's centennial with a gala celebration, highlighted by a Saturday, Oct. 21 dinner at the Johnson Student Center's Gresham Dining Room. Expected attendees include past Glee Club directors Henry Gibbons (1971-77) and Thomas Somerville (1977-97). Former music faculty member Alan Chapman, now a classical music host at KUSC-FM, will lead an auction in which bidders can vie for private performances by the Glee Club and two other Oxy musical groups - the Accidentals and Cadence.
Tickets for the dinner, which coincides with Homecoming and Family Weekend, are $100 per person. A 5 p.m. reception will precede the meal, which will be served an hour later. Dress is black tie optional. Seating is limited, so please reserve your ticket by calling Gail Scanlan at (323) 259-2559 or Heidi Davis at (323) 259-1465. Reservations must be made by Oct. 18.
Attendees will be able to take part in a sing-along in which Gibbons, Somerville and Shirley Nute '53 - who sang during the Howard Swan era - will lead alumni in performing selections representing the various Glee Club epochs. A rehearsal is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Lower Herrick Chapel.
Festivities kick off on Friday, Oct. 20 with the Glee Club Homecoming Concert. The performance takes place on the actual anniversary of the first Men's Glee Club rehearsal. The concert will feature Oxy songs, Americana, a cappella, folk songs and sacred pieces. Admission is $15 for adults (free for students and staff with Oxy identification). Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by visiting the bookstore Web page at http://www.oxybookstore.com. A CD of historical Glee Club performances casn be purchased online or at the bookstore.
Occidental's choral legacy is reflected in the hundreds, or thousands, of alumni who have made some aspect of choral music their career or significant avocation. It was during the mid-20th century that Robert Shaw stated that Occidental's Glee Clubs are "one of the finest collegiate choral ensembles in America." The organization has toured nationally and internationally and, under director Howard Swan (1934-71), frequently took first-place honors at musical competitions. Under current director Jeffrey Bernstein, the repertoire has included works such as Bach's St. John's Passion and Handel's Messia, performed with Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra and professional soloists. In 2004, the Glee Clubs joined the Pasadena Symphony in a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Jorge Mester at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. In 2005, they sang Beethoven's Ninth with the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra, and in February 2006 performed the work four times in four days with the Naples, Florida, Symphony Orchestra, also under conductor Jorge Mester.