During Reunion Weekend 2011, on Saturday, June 4, some 70+ alumni assembled in Lerner Hall to rehearse and perform a number of musical pieces. Registrations came from alumni of Bacchantae, Barnard-Columbia Chorus, Barnard Gilbert & Sullivan Society, Clefhangers, Columbia University Glee Club, Gospel Choir, Jubilation, Kingsmen, Metrotones, Non Sequitur and the (current, independent) Notes and Keys.
Our oldest singing alumnus was Bill Grote CC 1951, an original King's Man. The youngest, still a student and a rising second-year with the Glee Club, was Janet Lee, BC 2014. When the baton came down and voices lifted up in song, age made no difference at all.
While rehearsal space and time on the program was offered to alumni of any ensemble that got together a big enough group to do its repertoire, none did. So we used repertory that is probably most closely associated with the Glee Club (which had the majority of registrants).
For a look at the program, click here.
Initially, the program surprised Richard Plotkin CC 2001, a baritone and Clefhangers a cappella alumnus. "This isn't what I'm used to singing," he said. But he quickly warmed to the larger, choral sound and said he really enjoyed the experience. He left determined to recruit other Clefs alumni for future Columbia Alumni Singers events. Jim Marsen, SEAS 1972, a more recent Kingsman (the group lost the white space when they re-formed in 1983), also seemed to blend right in.
Last-minute registrant and Glee Clubber Jon Mueser CC 1971 brought his daughter along to take pictures. After the concert, he traded reminiscences with Katie Cangelosi BC 1972 about their experiences singing with the Barnard Gilbert & Sullivan Society. The call to rehearse and perform surprised several of the Barnard women, like Odette Wilkins BC 1976, since their registration materials didn't include that information. Both Odette and Katie did enjoy the concert, though!
Two other Gilbert & Sullivan alumni singing are a married couple who met while singing at Columbia. Abby Kurnit BC 1968 and Jeff Kurnit CC 1968 relished the idea of singing together for a change, since Jeff gets to do Glee Club things, including a stellar solo on Ride the Chariot, both this year and last.
Susan Shapiro Metz BC 1971 did not meet her husband while singing with the Barnard-Columbia Chorus. But she married a singer anyway, and Jerry Metz - an excellent bass - registered to sing as a Friend. All singers are encouraged to report any further engagements, marriages or similar pairings as a result of this event.
Mas Taketomo CC 1978 had sung at last year's Glee Club Reunion 2010 event. But since brother Toshi CC 1981 was having his reunion this year, he decided to sign up again. Then a minor accident to his wife kept Toshi away at the last minute. The best laid plans...
Richard Neel CC 1961 also sang without his brother, Hartley CC 1963. But then again, it was Dick's reunion year. Both the Taketomos and the Neels will have to look to next year's tour for a chance to sing together again.
Sam Rofman CC 1961, a bass and former President of the Glee Club, got to sing with Angela Kelichner GS 2012, the current President and the other student who joined the alumni for the event. Today's club has more women than men, so Angela enjoyed singing on top of the solid foundation the alumni provided. Bob Bilenker CC 1963, another bass, joined Sam in the back row, the first time the two doctors had sung together in nearly 50 years.
Peggy Anne Gilcher Siegmund BC 1956, who sang with the University Chorus, anchored the soprano contingent, while Bob Klipstein CC 1957 and Paul Zola CC 1957, Glee Clubbers both, did the same for the tenors. Paul also made some impromptu remarks about his and Bob's continuing involvement in the University Glee Club in New York, which, he was proud to point out is an outgrowth of the original Columbia Alumni Glee Club, founded 125 years ago and open to (male) alumni who want to keep on singing during the year.
Paul also sang the tenor solo in Set Down Servant, pairing with bass Jon Bauman CC 1968, who split his time between the Glee Club and the Kingsmen-who-became-Sha-Na-Na in 1969. Singing regularly as "Bowzer" for many years before moving on in his show business career certainly kept Jon's voice in the lower register.
Former Glee Club accompanist Paul Kimmel CC 1963, Peter Thall CC 1964, Eric Hansen CC 1984 and Stanley Nachamie CC 1988 joined Columbia Alumni Singer committee members Jeff Krulwich CC 1964, Michael Garrett CC 1966 and David Tilman CC 1966 among the basses and baritones, while committee members Ari Brose BC 1984 and Premila Reddy BC 1999, both Bacchantae and Glee Club alumnae, sang soprano. Cantor Tilman stepped out of the chorus for a dynamite solo in This Train in the Fenno Heath arrangement.
Tybe Brett BC 1976 and Patty O'Sullivan BC 1981 both sang with the Glee Club despite their matriculation before co-education. What is commonplace in today's SATB ensemble was not then. But they sure made the tenor section sound better back in the day. On Saturday, they went back and forth between tenor and alto.
Demetria Gallegos CC 1987 fared better as an alto in the reconfigured SATB Glee Club during her years on campus. She expressed interest in finding other ways for alumni singers to keep on singing between big events like the reunion.
During rehearsal, we had drop-by visits from the current director of the Barnard-Columbia Chorus, Professor Gail Archer, and the current director of the Glee Club, David Harris. A nice connection between past and present.
Milton Erman CC 1971 got so excited by the opportunity to sing again that he left his music in the rehearsal room after the performance. Better that than before the show! A kind Reunion staffer promised to find Milt and return the goods.
d Sans Souci. Among those heeding the call were George Souls CC 1961 and Robert Gurland CC 1966. There were a couple of nostalgic tears shed as non-singing alumni started to stand up as the opening strains of Sans Souci began to echo through the auditorium.
Congratulations from Bruce!
Dear members of the Columbia Alumni Singers,
Congratulations on a splendid Reunion, rehearsal and performance last Saturday in Lerner Hall. Jerry Weale and I were delighted with your energy and enthusiasm – and how did you manage to muster equal numbers of sopranos and altos, and equal numbers of tenor and basses?!?
Please put the first week-end in June 2013 on your calendar to join us in celebrating the 140th Anniversary of the founding of the Glee Club in 1873.
Thank you all again for making this Reunion a success and all best wishes for a great summer.
Very fond regards,
Though most of the repertory came from Glee Club files, Tom Kovach CC 1971, who sang with the Barnard-Columbia Chorus, was glad to do the Lacrymosa movement from the Mozart Requiem. Both the Chorus and the Glee Club have performed the piece, and it seemed a natural cross-over.
In consultation with the committee, Columbia Alumni Singers decided to maintain the Glee Club tradition of inviting former singers to join the chorus at the end of the performance for the singing of Stand Columbia an
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