The Glee Club
The Glee Club is the oldest and largest choir at Princeton University, and has for generations served as the ‘hub’ for singers at Princeton – in which like-minded students come together to explore musical passions and make lifelong friendships. The choir tours internationally on alternate years (at no cost to the students!), and has recently added northern Spain and South Africa to the list of stamps in the Glee Club passport. There are six major performances this coming season, and numerous special appearances at functions and gatherings around campus. The choir embraces a vast array of repertoire, from Renaissance motets and madrigals, Romantic partsongs, large choral-orchestral masterworks, and 21st century choral commissions to the more traditional Glee Club fare of spirituals, folk music, and college songs. The spectrum of Glee Club members is perhaps even broader: undergraduates and graduate students, scientists and poets, philosophers and economists – all walks of academic life are represented, knit together by their belief in the nobility and joy of singing together.
AUDITIONS AND REHEARSALS
Auditions will be held between September 9th and 13th, 2019, morning and afternoon. These auditions consist of some vocal exercises and ear tests, which help determine which of our department’s choirs are the best fit for you. To learn more about all our choirs, click here.
The Glee Club rehearses three times each week beginning Monday September 16th, 2019. All rehearsals take place in the McAlpin Hall in the Woolworth Music Center, at the following times:
Monday | 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday | 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Friday | 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.
Members of the Glee Club and all of our faculty-led choral ensembles at Princeton are eligible for subsidized studio voice lessons. For information, click here or call the Music Department at (609) 258-6078.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE GLEE CLUB
Ulysses S. Grant was president, Verdi’s Requiem was premiered, and the Battle of Little Big Horn was still two years in the future when the Princeton University Glee Club was founded in 1874 by Andrew Fleming West, the first Dean of the Graduate College. In its early years, the group consisted of a few young men and was run entirely by its student members, but in 1907, Charles E. Burnham became the first of a long line of eminent professional musicians to lead the Glee Club. Since that time, the ensemble has established itself as the largest choral body on Princeton’s campus, and has distinguished itself both nationally and overseas.
The Glee Club first achieved national recognition under famed organist Alexander Russell, when it performed the American premiere of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1931. Further accolades saw performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1935, and with the Vassar College Choir, the first United States performance of Rameau’s Castor et Pollux in 1937. The custom of joining together with the women’s choirs of Vassar, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges continued until the advent of coeducation. In the 1950s, under the direction of its longest-serving conductor, Walter L. Nollner, the Glee club traveled outside the United States for the first time, establishing a pattern of international concert tours to Europe, Asia, South America, and the South Pacific. Two world tours followed, and most recently, PUGC has toured Hawai’i, Argentina, Paris, Germany, Prague, South Africa, and northern Spain.
Nowadays the Glee Club performs frequently on Princeton’s campus, enjoying the wonderful acoustic and aesthetic of Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. Perhaps the choir’s most celebrated performing tradition began in 1913, with the annual concerts presented jointly with the Glee Clubs of Harvard and Yale on the eve of the respective football games. A more recent tradition has seen the establishment of annual performances of choral masterworks with professional soloists and orchestra, now supported by an endowment fund to honor Walter Nollner. In the last few years these have included Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s St. Matthew and St. John Passions and Mass in B Minor, Mozart’s Requiem, Honneger’s Le Roi David, and Faure’s Requiem.
During Reunions each May, as decades of alumni flock back to campus to reminisce with classmates and relive their favorite Princeton memories, our Glee Club alumni gather in Richardson Auditorium to sing Thomas Tallis’ monumental 40-part motet Spem in Alium before running to the stage for a multi-generational rendition of our Football Medley. As PUGC grows and evolves, this tradition continues to unite its members, past and present, in their collective love of great music and Princeton spirit.