Notre Dame’s Glee Club has been an important part of campus for 107 years. And after all of these years, they have some specific traditions that they continue to carry out. One of these traditions is their fall concert, happening Friday night at 8 p.m. in DPAC. The club has about 60 students, all of whom have been working toward their fall concert for nearly a full semester.
Director of the club Daniel Stowe explained the amount of time and energy expected by each student that gets involved in this club. They must not perfect their musical talent but memorize the music that they are composing. Hours of work are put into practicing, but that is not the only time the club spends together. Students within the Glee Club travel across the country and world to perform their acapella music, resulting in a lot of time spent together as a group.
“It’s a brotherhood you can’t really make anywhere else, because instead of just hanging out, we go on these tours and these trips and we’re spending all this time together,” Mike Hanisch, co-president of the Glee Club, said. “Nor is it like normal college students. We’re also in this process of creating really high-quality music and putting on concerts at insane venues. It’s a really unique relationship with all these guys that you can’t really find anywhere else.”
Students start auditions early in the year. Stowe has recognized an increasing number of students with past musical experience, however, that is not required to be a part of the club. After these auditions, the students quickly move into preparing for their many performances. The first few weeks, students focus on the classics that they always perform, such as the Notre Dame Fight Song, then they move into more individualized pieces. This leaves students with a little less than two months to get their pieces to the level they are expected to perform at.
“They pick it up pretty fast and we want to do everything from memory, so that is another level of rehearsal commitment,” Stowe said.
Stowe ensures that the music is not simple and easy for the students of the Glee Club. Their performances consist of literature that spans across geographic locations and time periods. It is intentional that they work on diverse musical arrangements, Stowe says.
“It’s as wide a range of music as we have ever done and they are doing it beautifully,” Stowe said. “From Renaissance music, to Sting and Phil Collins, and they are doing great. I think people will be really impressed by the range of musical experience.”
The students are also able to recognize the difficulty level of the music they are working on. Hanisch expressed excitement about the music they will be playing this Friday, while also acknowledging that the work was not easy for them to pick up.
“It’s been the most difficult set I would say that we’ve done since I’ve been here and it’s been a difficult process and we’ve grown so much and it’s just very exciting to be at a level now where it is ready to be performed,” he said.
Considering the club’s importance on travel and being together, these past few years have not always been easy for them. During COVID, there were a lot of setbacks for the club. Travel and the tight-knit community were impeded on. This year, Stowe has noticed that among the upperclassmen there is more positive energy as they celebrate their time to travel and perform, free of COVID protocols.
“They were freshmen when everything shut down during COVID, so they still realize how precious the experience is,” he said. “They’re very good at conserving the experience and making sure that it moves on.”
This observation is not just apparent to Stowe. The upperclassmen themselves recognize that they are cherishing every moment of this experience, Hanisch says.
“We really need to make the most of every concert because we don’t know when this could be taken away again,” Hanisch said.
Hanisch was able to partake in a normal year of Glee Club his first year. He said that the year has helped him have a greater appreciation for this year.
“Now we’ve kind of realized every show is a privilege to be able to put on and I think that has changed the vibe for this year,” Hanisch said.
Hanisch added that he thinks the rest of the student body can take away just as much from the concert as club members.
“It’s really a way to connect with other members of the student body and just really see what kind of talents people have to bring to the table,” Hanisch said. “And also, just to enjoy the music in itself. It’s really beautiful music that we’re performing.”
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