Miami University Men's Glee Club held their 111th annual Home Concert series over the weekend in Hall Auditorium. The concert, named because the Glee Club was the first group to perform in Hall Auditorium when it was built in 1908, is the culmination of a year's worth of work for the club.
Friday night's concert featured the Men's Chorus from nearby Lebanon High School under direction of Miami alumni Kristi Ross, while Saturday night showcased just the Glee Club, the only concert of the year to do so.
According to Jeremy Jones, conductor of the club since 2010, they have worked with the John C. "Doc" Wabrick Men's Glee Club Commission Series every year since 2012 to premiere 14 new works of male choral music.
"We collaborate with recognized composers to bring new male choral repertoire to the world of choral music," said Jones.
This concert featured seven of the pieces written for the Glee Club since then.
Seniors are traditionally recognized at the Home Concert since it is their last performance with the club. During the concert Jones calls the seniors' names and shakes each of their hands as they line the stage, their families and friends cheering them on.
According to graduating senior and current club president Alex Wortman, the event stirs up a lot of emotion.
"It's very sentimental to the seniors because this chapter of our life is coming to an end," said Wortman. "We're crying because this group means a lot to us, but seeing the young guys so eager to be part of the group is really great."
Wortman, a finance major with double minors in geography and urban planning, joined the group as a first year thanks to the advice of his older sister, a 2011 Miami alumna. He says the club has been a transformative experience.
"I've developed lifelong friends that I never knew coming into Miami," said Wortman. "We're so different with our backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities and academic interests, but we're all able to come together as one and celebrate our differences and share our music with everyone."
As Wortman prepares to graduate and take the next step in his life, junior American studies major Andrew McKnight is ready to fill his shoes as Glee Club president.
McKnight joined the glee club his sophomore year when he was a piano performance major looking to fill a class requirement. Now completing his fourth semester with the group, he says the club "turned into the happiest accident ever."
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"Club has helped me grow up and learn who I am as a man," said McKnight. "Coming into college freshman year I was very lost. I didn't have a solid friend group for a while, and Glee Club gave me that."
Each year the Home Concerts also feature Glee Club alumni. Visiting alumni are invited to the stage at the end of the concert, wearing signifying ribbons, for five traditional Glee Club pieces. According to junior economics major and incoming club vice president Brandon Klein, there tends to be around 40 alumni at the concerts each year.
Klein has been involved in the Glee Club since his first semester at Miami and has travelled with the group several times. Last summer he travelled around Europe with the club, performing 11 concerts over 17 days in Germany, Luxembourg, France, Czech Republic and Austria. He's also done several domestic trips with the group, travelling to Chicago, Florida and Michigan.
"Glee Club has really given me a home," said Klein. "It's given me a place to go to hang out with all my really close friends. I can't imagine college without being in this group."
Senior math and statistics major and current club treasurer Jimmy Dudley says he also feels the Glee Club has given him unique opportunities during his time at Miami.
Dudley joined the group his freshman year and has been involved every semester except a semester he spent studying abroad. For him, Glee Club was a whole new world.
"I'd never sang in a choir before, but I liked music a lot and wanted to continue it in a new and different way," said Dudley. "I met a guy at a fraternity get together and he told me to email Dr. Jones. I got an audition and I've been here ever since."
Dudley says the group has given him more than he could've imagined.
"To me Glee Club means brotherhood, life long friends and countless memories," said Dudley.
The concert featured several guest artists including Nicole Holman on cello, Doug Lindsay on trumpet and percussion by David Rim, Jordan Bicknell, Patrick Schoeppner, RJ Schaefer and Thomas Stanley. Solos were performed by several members of the glee club. The Cheezies, an a cappella group formed by club members, performed "Falling Slowly" from the musical "Once."
The group, accompanied by pianist Jon Sanford, kept the audience entertained throughout the duration of their two-hour concert as they danced and clapped along to most songs.
McKnight says he feels the concert was a big success.
"You can always do better with performing," he said. "But when you sink your heart and soul into it and it brings you to tears and you can see the audience react the same way, it means you're doing something right."
This year's Home Concerts were increasingly special as they served as a preview for live performances of the club's upcoming CD. According to McKnight, the club recorded a CD with Albany Records three years ago and were almost immediately asked to do another.
Beginning the week after finals, the club will be in Hall Auditorium for eight hours a day, four days a week. The process of recording is rigorous and involves turning off all air conditioning and lights in the auditorium to avoid unnecessary background noise. The CD is set to be released in August, but a specific date is not yet known.