Glee Clubs Go Down Under
The Occidental College Glee Clubs are going Down Under to celebrate a century of music making, traveling to Australia for a centennial tour that will feature masterworks by 16th- to 20th-century composers who include William Byrd, Johannes Brahms and Leonard Bernstein.
More than 30 members will take part in the tour, which is scheduled for May 26 through June 2. Two members – Elizabeth Acreman ’08 of Brisbane and Stephanie Kay ’10 of Melbourne – are native Aussies.
The Glee Clubs will perform at the Sunshine Coast Choral Festival, Sunshine Coast; St. John’s Cathedral, Brisbane; Fern Hill Village, Caboolture; Stella Maris Church, Beaumaris; and Melba Hall, University of Melbourne.
The federation of Australia – the unification of the six Australian colonies in 1901 – was just six years old when the Occidental Glee Clubs (then solely a men’s group) was born. The Glee Clubs’ choral legacy is reflected in the hundreds 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 Messiah, 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.