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December 02, 2010 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-12-02

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0 The Michigan Daily I michigandaily.com I Thursday, December 2, 2010

B y Joe Cada gin, D aily Arts Wri t,, r
Photos and de sign by Marissa McCl i{n

n a crisp, quiet
fall, a group of
students gath-
ers beneath an
enormous oak tree near the
center of campus. The year is
1904, and these fresh-faced
young people have returned
to the sleepy little town of
Ann Arbor for another year
of classes, parties and foot-
ball games. The Wolverines
would finish 10-0 that year,
capping the season off with
a decisive victory over the
University of Chicago.
As the students light a
bonfire, they begin to sing
the University's alma mater,
"The Yellow and Blue."
Splitting into four-part har-
mony, their voices rise with
the smoke of the fire into
the highest branches of the
mighty oak tree above them.
As the last chord fades away,
a feeling of optimism and
good cheer spreads through
the group as its members
eagerly look forward to the
coming school year.
Today, this lonely oak
tree is no longer the site of
such gatherings. Dubbed the
Tappan Oak after the Uni-
versity's first president, the
tree still towers over cam-
pus on a small strip of grass
on the west side of Hatcher
Graduate Library. Though
thousands of students pass
beneath it every year, none
stop to sing the University's
alma mater as in days of old.
The Tappan Oak is tes-
tament to a time without
iPods, when singing was
an integral part of campus
life. In the early 19th cen-
tury, faculty and students
started composing school
songs to honor the Univer-
sity. What began as a hand-
ful of pieces grew into an
enormous repertoire of Uni-
versity fight songs, hymns,
nostalgic songs and comic
ditties collected in a series of
songbooks that continued to
expand into the post-World
War II era.
The Original
Like the Tappan Oak,
this treasure trove of songs
lies all but forgotten to the
larger student body. Yet the
music has managed to live
on, thanks to a few groups
devoted to performing
* Michigan songs and pre-
servingthem for posterity.
"We think of ourselves in
the Men's and Women's Glee
Clubs as sort of the custo-
dians of these pieces," said
Paul Rardin, the director of
the Men's Glee Club and an
associate professor of choral
conducting in the School of
Music, Theatre & Dance.
Series of Michigan song-
books serve as relics of a

bygone era. The earliest of
these books, "Songs of the
Yellow and Blue," was first
published in 1889. The small,
teal-colored volume con-
tains the earliest Michigan
songs, including the Univer-
sity's alma mater.
Two other important
songs contained in this first
songbook are a pair of Glee
Club favorites. The valiant
"Laudes Atque Carmina"
("Songs and Praises"), which
opens every Men's Glee Club
concert, is a Latin hymn of
praise to the University. The
reverent "Goddess of the
Inland Seas" places the Uni-
versity on par with ancient
"'Goddess of the Inland
Seas' was composed in the
late 1880s by a faculty mem-
ber, and of course the faculty
members back then were all
well versed in the classics,"
said Carl Smith, a retired
CPA who serves as faculty
adviser for the Men's Glee
Club. "You have to remem-
ber that this university was
founded on the classics, and
it just added and expanded
from that."
In 1904, the University
released a new, expanded
songbook titled simply "The
Michigan University Song
Book." Among the songs
included was a four-part
arrangement of Louis Elbel's
famous march, "The Vic-
tors." Composed for the 1898
football team, Elbel's iconic
piece was given lyrics in
1904 when the Men's Glee
Club added it to its reper-
"Michigan's Favorite Col-
lege Songs," the most com-
prehensive volume to date
and the last of the three main
volumes, was published in
1913. The new songbook was
the first to feature the fight
song "Varsity," which the
Michigan Marching Band
still performs at football
games. The book also fea-
tured new numbers from the
Michigan Union Operas.
Beginning in 1908, an all-
male group known as the
Mimes began writing and
performing comic operas in
order to raise money to build
the Michigan Union. The
group continued perform-
ing new works through the
mid-'50s, when the Mimes
opened up to women and
became the campus Broad-
way musical troupe known
as "Michigan Union Shows,
Ko-Eds, Too," or MUSKET.
"Those were big events
on campus," Smith said of
the Michigan Union Operas.
"Some of them were large
enough that they toured
to New York, Chicago and
Detroit. ... They were, in
many cases, farces or plays
on current (events regard-
ing) faculty, students, activi-

Dec. 2 to Dec. 5
You want to see a con-
cert; your friends want
a dance show. Compro-
mise and go to "By the
Way: Music In Plural-
ism" at the Duderstadt
Video Studio Friday or
Saturday. Made by five
'U' students, it's a one-
of-a-kind multimedia
exhibit, incorporating
everything from diverse
music and live video
processing to choreo-
graphed modern dance.
Doors open at 7:30
p.m. Admission is free.
Today through Satur-
day, Basement Arts
will be performing
"Dorothy," directed by
School of Music, The-
atre & Dance student
Porscha Kazmierczak,
at the Walgreen Drama
Center. Written by Gra-
ham Reid, "Dorothy"
contrasts the "inner"
and "external" worlds
and deals with choices
and consequences.
The show will be per-
formed at 7 p.m. tonight
through Saturday and at
11 p.m. tomorrow. Free.
No holiday season
is complete without
watching little Ralphie's
adventures with Scut
Farkus, Chinese turkey

and a leg lamp during
his quest for an official
Red Ryder carbine-
action 200-shot range
model air rifle with a
compass in the stock
and the thing that tells
time. The 1983 classic
"A Christmas Story" is
playing this Sunday at
4 p.m. at the Michigan
Theater. Just make sure
you don't shoot your
eye out before then.
Admission is free.
Got those pre-finals
blues? Head to the
Blind Pig tonight to
hear Frontier Ruckus
bring the noise and
let loose. Since the
release of the band's
2007 EP lAm the
Water You Are Pump-
ing, University alum
David Winston Jones
and co. have been
going strong, releas-
ing bluegrass folk-
rock tunes that would
make any Americana
aficionado swoon.
Doors open at 9 p.m.
Tickets from $12.

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