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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

Glee Club Shows Startling Versatility

Author: Laura Rockefeller

Thunderous applause filled Mead Chapel on Saturday night as members of the renowned singing group, the Morehouse Glee Club, jogged down the center isle two by two to take their places in front of the audience. The tuxedo-clad singers stood in their elegant rows for minutes before the clapping and stomping from the enthusiastic audience finally abated, and the concert could begin.

It was clear from the excitement of the audience that the impressive reputation of the Glee Club had preceded the men to Middlebury College. The all-male ensemble, which was established in 1911, is composed of students from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. Over its 90-year history, the Glee Club has performed at such prestigious events as the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., concerts at Lincoln Center and President Jimmy Carter's inauguration and has taken several European tours. Members of the all-African-American group hail from across the country and are pursuing various fields of study.

In the final moments of the concert, all the singers introduced themselves and stated their hometown and major. Singers hailed from states as far apart as Georgia and Washington, and the majors mentioned included nearly every possibility from music to chemistry.

The range of repertoire that the Glee Club presented in this concert was truly staggering. They performed Brant Adams' formal contemporary piece "Exultate Justi in Domino" and Wendell Whalum's arrangement of the traditional spiritual "My Lord What a Morning" with equal ease. Although both performances shared a beautiful, deep sound, the ensemble was able to adapt their presentation to the different styles of the pieces.

After intermission and the presentation of the Angel Award to Crystal Belle '04 by Associate Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry, the Morehouse College Quartet performed several pieces. The performance by these four members of the ensemble displayed the versitility of the group. They began their section with a spiritual, but then moved on to the barbershop quartet sound of "My Coney Island Baby."

The singers changed out of tuxedos into their school blazers for the livelier second half of the concert. Although when it began with the Glee Club singing Jamison Marvin's arrangement of "Danny Boy" there were a number of teary eyes in the audience, the group soon moved to more upbeat songs. Their performance of two traditional African pieces with drums, tambourines and choreography had many audience members tapping their feet, clapping their hands and swaying along with the performers. For the second piece, "Osen Mawu Do," the Glee Club moved down the side aisles, surrounding the audience with their deep sound and strong rhythm. The conclusion of this set of pieces was greeted with cheering and with the first of many standing ovations.

Although not uniform in strength, the caliber of the featured soloists was overall very impressive. Cotrell Qualls' tenor solo in "Stars," a musical setting of a poem by Langston Hughes, was particularly beautiful. His voice had a clear quality that made it seem as though it was soaring up to join the stars about which he was singing.

The Glee Club's dynamic and skilled performance proved a winning complement to the ceremony for this year's Angel Award nominees.


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