glee club cornell

What Is A University Glee Club?

Ever since the release of the popular US TV program Glee in 2009 many people have become obsessed with musical choir groups. However, Glee clubs have been around a long time before the TV show was ever released. Although Glee shed some light on the modern Glee clubs in America, it didn’t explore the history of them and how they were created. When people think of university clubs they often think of students getting very, very drunk or sitting in their rooms playing on League of Legends accounts or the sailing club out building their new modular pontoons – but the reality these days is very different.


So what exactly is a University Glee Club?


A Glee club is a musical group that is historically made up of male voices and specialize in singing short songs, also known as “Glees.” Nevertheless, it is still possible to get female and mixed groups, don’t think it’s only for guys.


These “Glee” songs that they sing are short songs from the classical and early romantic periods.


Most of these songs are written for at least 3 voices and are intended to be sung unaccompanied like acappella. These Glee songs fall into a different musical category from traditional college songs and are not to be mistaken for classical music or opera.


Although many Glees were initially written to be sung by male-only singing clubs, many of them often include soprano parts which were sung by boys. Specifically, church choristers until recently when mixed groups were formed were ladies took over singing the parts.


History of Glee Clubs

cornell glee club

The first recorded Glee Club was founded at Harrow School, in London, in 1787.


Glee clubs were very popular in the UK until the mid-1850’s when they started to be gradually taken over by choral societies instead. Around this time many North American colleges and universities began to introduce their Glee clubs with Harvard introducing the first one in the US in 1858.


Many other universities followed shortly after with Yale, Cornell and Princeton all founding their Glee clubs in the 1860’s and 70’s.


Glee Clubs Today


Today many universities all over the world have Glee clubs, most notably in North America.


Many universities still have Glee clubs that anyone enrolled in a university course can join. The Glee clubs founded at Princeton, Cornell and Yale back in the 1800’s are still going strong with some clubs having over 100 active members. Most of these clubs perform on a weekly basis and have several groups included all male, all female and mixed groups.


Many Glee clubs nowadays have evolved over the years and have moved away from small groups and single sex groups.


Glee clubs regularly perform to the rest of the university and host special events where they perform to members of the public. Some clubs even do the events for charity and donate all the proceedings from the event.


Glee clubs aren’t just limited to Universities, though; there are several community-based Glee clubs all around the world. Many of them are open to people aged 16 or above and don’t require any auditions.


Now you know what a Glee club is and the history of them it’s time to take your singing to the next level. If you enjoy singing with friends and family, then there’s a high chance you could enjoy a glee club. No matter your age or skill level there’s a place for everyone in a Glee club – even those who traditionally sat in playing on their League of Legends accounts!


Check your local area for community Glee clubs; then there’s a good chance your institute will already have one.

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