An ensemble of tenor and bass voices, the Harvard Glee Club is the oldest collegiate choir in the United States. Since our founding in 1858, we have sought to cultivate and sustain the art of tenor-bass—traditionally men’s—choral music through regular concerts at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre as well as performances on the road at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Disney Concert Hall in LA, and the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria. Keeping with this tradition, our most recent international tour took us to East Asia, where we had the privilege of performing in Taipei’s National Concert Hall, Tokyo’s Kioi Hall, and in Gunsan’s City Hall.
The Glee Club’s membership is comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students, with interests and concentrations ranging from Applied Mathematics to Sociology. This diverse group of students interfaces with the organization in a variety of ways—the Glee Club is a bridge for many types of participation and shared expression of the love of music. All members are eligible for subsidized voice lessons and those with compositional training enjoy opportunities to create their own pieces for the group to perform.
The choir’s status as a student-run 501(c)(3) non-profit provides members opportunities for leadership and arts management, including planning and executing multi-week international tours, organizing concerts with collaborating universities, and marketing the Glee Club’s concerts and merchandise. The Glee Club’s a cappella subset, Glee Club Lite, allows students to arrange, conduct, and perform their own pieces. This smaller pop-driven ensemble expands our normal repertoire with performances that include everything from Disney tunes to jazz.
Our repertoire has historically drawn from the collegiate, folk, and sacred music of Europe and North America, incorporating pieces dating from the Renaissance onward. To foster the growth and vitality of tenor-bass choral repertoire, the Glee Club has commissioned pieces from composers such as Bongani Magatyana, Molly Joyce, Morten Lauridsen, Robert Kyr, and Sir John Tavener. In 2018, the group performed Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with Boston’s Emmanuel Music. In 2019, the Glee Club commemorated W.E.B. Du Bois—who was excluded from the group because he was Black—with guest conductor Tesfa Wondemagegnehu. In 2020, they premiered Molly Joyce’s “Wall of Mirrors” and persisted through the COVID-19 pandemic, using Zoom to collaborate with artists around the world to engage with Chinese, South African, Russian, and Italian choral music traditions.
Recognized together as the Harvard Choruses, the Harvard Glee Club (tenor and bass chorus), Radcliffe Choral Society (soprano and alto chorus), Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum (mixed chorus), and the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus (mixed symphonic chorus) annually perform with professional orchestras and soloists, regularly present world premieres, and collaborate with community and campus organizations.
The Glee Club strives to provide a unique musical experience for all members through excellence in performance, student management, education, and community. As both the bearers of Harvard’s beloved football songs and the authors of new traditions, the Glee Club seeks each year to strike a balance between preservation, innovation, and justice. Bound together in song, the Harvard Glee Club is committed to our music and our four cardinal virtues: glee, good humor, unity, and joy.