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December 05, 2013 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-12-05

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8 - Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

BBowties and baritones
By Erin Kirkland

S
0

I'11 be the first to tell you that
I can't sing. So I set out to
explore the campus' a cappella
culture. It's no secret that in recent
years, as seen in movies such as
"Pitch Perfect," the depiction of
college a cappella culture stresses
the transition from stiff, straight-
laced chorale groups to loosened-
up groups singing mashups.
But what about the oldest
student organization on campus
- The Men's Glee Club? Founded
in 1859, the organization is known
as the roughly 100 men between
the ages of 18 and 22 who don
penguin-esque tuxedos and sport
boutonnieres. Since it incorporates
musical accompaniment they don't
quite fall underneath the a cappella
umbrella, but it still straddles
the line between tradition and
modernity.

"We want to honor the
traditions the 154 year old student
organization holds dear . . .
However it's important to think
critically about those traditions
and ensure that the club's culture
evolves with the times," said LSA
senior Chris Osborn.
In doing so, the group's set
list includes both classical and
contemporary selections, and a few
performances from the 8 person
comedic musical group known as
The Friars. Each year Glee Club
participates in their outreach
program known as Brothers in
Song, providing mentorship and
musical opportunity for a local
high school. And as far as loosening
up goes, you can hear them singing
at Cottage Inn after Thursday
practices.
While documenting the group as

they prepared for their fall concert,
I realized that the organization
stands asa musical reminder of the
University's historical tradition
and legacy. In fact, each spring the
club comes to a football practice
to teach the next team how to
properly sing "The Victors." For
me, what once stood as an image
of shiny shoes and neatly pressed
shirts, has been replaced by the
final act of the fall concert. In
the last 5 minutes the group sings
Michigan-specific, age-old songs
- "In College Days, The Victors,"
and "The University" -which echo
throughout Hill's rich-colored
ceiling.
The end result of my sociological,
photographic exploration? I
still can't sing. But I know of
an organization on campus that
certainly can.

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