The Princeton University Glee Club, Princeton's oldest and most prestigious choir, was founded in 1874 by Andrew Fleming West '74, the first Dean of the Graduate College, and continues to be the premier vocal ensemble at Princeton University.
Why is it called a 'Glee Club'?
The name "Glee Club" comes from 18th Century England - specifically from Harrow School (where the Glee Club's current director was educated!). The term referred then to a small group of men singing parlor songs, folk songs and other ditties in close harmony, normally without accompaniment. The early American Glee Clubs were based on this model but have since exploded into the large ensembles we now find at many Ivy League schools. At Princeton we keep the name "Glee Club" out of reverence for this tradition.
Who is the Director?
Gabriel Crouch has been the director of musical and choral performance at Princeton University and the director of the Princeton University Glee Club since 2010. Before his current post, Mr. Crouch was a member of the world renowned British vocal ensemble, The King’s Singers. In 2005, he left the King’s Singers to accept the position as head of the choral program at DePauw University, which he held until joining the faculty at Princeton. Mr. Crouch holds a degree from the University of Cambridge where he completed a choral scholarship at Trinity College.
How large is the Glee Club?
The precise size of the Glee Club fluctuates between 60 and 80 members. Currently, there are approximately 70 students who are current members, as well as a piano accompanist who is also a student.
Are all members 'musicians'?
Yes, although the vast majority of Glee Club singers have courses of study in other departments at Princeton. Our students come to the ensemble from all backgrounds, all corners of the globe, and all academic departments on campus.
What kind of music does the Glee Club sing?
The Glee Club sings music ranging from the 15th to the 21st Century, from the most solemnly sacred to the most provocatively profane, and from the most revered choral masterworks to the Princeton fight songs of which we are proud to be the keepers. Highlights from the 2011-12 include such choral standards as the Faure Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, as well as works from contemporary composer Ola Gjeilo and folk songs from Bulgaria, Estonia, and Romania.
Are only undergraduates members?
No, we have several graduate students currently serving in the choir. Competition for places is high though, so sadly we are not able to welcome community members except on special occasions.
Where has the Glee Club been performing?
In addition to regular performances on the Princeton University campus, and annual performances at either Harvard or Yale for a joint concert with their Glee Clubs, the Glee Club tours internationally on alternate years. Recent tours have taken the Glee Club to Paris, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and Germany, where the choir has sung for such diverse audiences as community members in Chartres Cathedral to foreign diplomats at UNESCO, all the while sharing our passion for music with audiences all around the world. In 2016, the Glee Club toured South Africa - read more about it here!
Who's in charge?
The students and the director run the choir jointly. The student officers are each responsible for a different aspect of the Glee Club's life, and together ensure that the Glee Club is smartly dressed, well publicized, strongly connected to its alumni and financially solvent. The director is responsible for the choir's musical excellence, from the music and member selection to creating the superb sound our audiences love. In addition, the generosity of our audiences and alumni community keep the rich tradition of the Glee Club alive!
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