At his first FallFest three years ago, senior Philip Guadagno found a home in the UNC Men's Glee Club.
“I was wandering around at FallFest and I was walking by some tables, and I heard someone literally scream at me ‘Do you like singing?’" Guadango said. "And I’ve been there ever since.”
UNC is home to a variety of music clubs, including A cappella and musical theater programs, so musically-inclined students are overloaded with options.
“Students have a lot of choices for music organizations when they get here, and it’s hard to really stand out from the crowd,” said Grady Moomaw, outreach chair of the Carolina Jams club.
Men’s Glee Club has the distinction of being UNC’s oldest continually existing choral organization. The group has existed since 1892, and in the years since, has remained central to both the UNC music community and the larger student population. The group’s alumni include actor Andy Griffith and William Myers, a second tenor for the club who is credited with writing “Hark the Sound,” which was first performed by the Glee Club in 1897.
Today, the group is known for its large, diverse repertoire of songs. Daniel Huff, the longtime director of the group, said that this is partly due to the versatility of the male choral form.
“The idea is we can do almost anything from a period of 500 or 600 years, and there will be original music written for a male chorus in that style,” Huff said.
Each year, the club puts on a fall and spring concert with the UNC Women’s Glee Club, as well as a regional tour along the East Coast. This December, however, the club will embark on a trip to Europe, where they will perform in Vienna, Prague and Budapest.
“We’ll be singing in churches that are kind of at the heart of the men’s choral tradition, at least in Central Europe," Huff said. "They’re all linked together because of their status as imperial centers of the Holy Roman Empire at varying points in time."
The group will also be visiting Terezin, a World War II concentration camp north of Prague. Guadagno said that this location has a special significance to the group, as it is central to Vivaldi’s "Defiant Requiem," which the group has performed parts of in the past.
Guadagno hopes that while the group will surely gain historical understanding from the trip, they will also be able to bring their own unique perspective and sound to audiences in Europe.
“They’re looking for a more American sound, so we’re using that to our advantage," Guadagno said. "We’re pulling things that we’re more familiar with, but also that they won’t be familiar with to create a more captivating set for them to listen to."
Whether they’re singing in European cathedrals or college auditoriums, the members take pride in the tradition that they’re a part of. After each practice, they end with a rendition of “Hark the Sound,” a song that has been part of the club’s fabric for over one hundred years.
“We’re just a bunch of guys, singing a bunch of music, and it’s really fun,” Guadagno said. “We really try to bring the Carolina experience into what we do.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.