As the oldest club on campus, dating back to 1859, the Michigan Men’s Glee Club has had plenty of time over the years to perfect the countless traditions that have always been such a central aspect of the club’s presence on campus. The club’s traditions never fall short, no matter what aspect of the organization they are addressing. In their musical performance, director Dr. Eugene Rogers carefully selects a number of pieces that are traditional, both to the world of men’s choral performance and to the Wolverine community. While the men’s repertoire includes arrangements from a variety of genres, the Glee Club is best known around campus for performing some of the most popular campus songs that originated with the university itself. Because the Glee Club generally consists of an estimated 80-85% of students not majoring in music, the group has never been tailored exclusively to future professional vocalists. However, it is the passion these gentleman have for vocal performance outside of their regular academic lives that keeps the Glee Club so successful in carrying on it’s many traditions, while simultaneously forging new paths in expanding their repertoires.
Their performances are heightened as well by the gentlemen's presence on stage. Anyone who has ever watched the Glee Club perform will automatically recognize the uniform rows of men sporting their white tie concert attire. The Glee Club men value their chance to wear this elegant apparel for many reasons. Chief among these reasons is that their unique white-tie elegance is not the kind of thing most people encounter throughout the course of their everyday lives. “For the audience, the stark black-and-white contrast along with the distinctly military cut of the tailcoat suggest that this is a group of people who are doing something serious, and so are worth sitting forward and listening to,” reveals club parliamentarian Dan Walden. “For the performers, changing into something so very different is part of the passage from daily life into an artistic frame of mind: putting on the trousers and vest and tying the bow tie helps us remind ourselves that we’re about to do something special, and it’s time to let our everyday concerns rest so that we can focus on making music together.”
The Glee Club also gets the chance to share their traditions as they embark on national and international tours. This year, their tour will include stops in many major cities across America, from Chicago to St. Louis and Denver to Minneapolis. The club decided to travel domestically for this year’s tour in anticipation for the coming year’s international tour. Keeping the tour cost-sensitive will allow for a wider budget when the club jets off to South Africa to perform a sensational international tour.
Whether they are sharing their talents on tours that take them around the globe or performing right here at Hill Auditorium, the Glee Club consistently carries on their tradition of excellence, marching from one set to the next in their dapper ensembles. And as Walden said, “There’s no such thing as a man who doesn’t look absolutely smashing in a well-cut tailcoat and a white bow tie.”
The Men's Glee Club will be having their next concert, titled "Heartland" this Saturday at 8pm at Hill Auditorium.
Photos by Alex Holmes and Melissa Freeland
A big thanks to the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club and special thanks to our fabulous models, Alec Josaitis, Dan Walden, and Jake Meyers.