The Pomona College Glee Club (MUS 32, half-credit course) is Pomona’s elite chamber choir; the late Robert Shaw ’38, the most influential American choral conductor of the 20th century, is its most distinguished alumnus. This ensemble attracts members from all the Claremont Colleges and Claremont Graduate University, including students whose majors are drawn from all parts of the curriculum, from chemistry to neuroscience, English literature to French, politics to computer science and technology.
Each spring semester 23-28 of the colleges’ most gifted singers come together to explore a challenging classical repertoire spanning the 16th century to the present, focusing especially on works for unaccompanied voices. In addition to its normal concert schedule, the ensemble is regularly featured at major college functions, including at special alumni events, and at commencement. It also tours annually (with the full financial support of the College) immediately following commencement.
The Glee Club has had the honor of representing Pomona College both internationally and at home for over 100 years. The group traveled to Germany and the Czech Republic in 2006 (including Dresden, Leipzig, and Prague), and to Poland, England, and Germany in 2012 (including Kraków, Warsaw, London, and Berlin), where they sang in small chapels and castles as well as in major venues of historical significance, including the famous Thomaskirche in Leipzig (Bach’s home church for nearly 30 years), St. James’s Piccadilly in London, and the Berliner Dom in Berlin. In 2016, they traveled to Italy, singing by invitation at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, as well as other locations in northern and central Italy. Their planned trip to southern and central Spain in 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19.
On its domestic tours, the ensemble has sung in some of the most spectacular ecclesiastical spaces in the United States, including Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, as well as the impressive collegiate spaces of Stanford University’s Memorial Chapel and the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Other memorable appearances in inspiring venues include those at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Honolulu, St. Joseph’s Church in New York City, Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg (VA), and Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. The tour also regularly includes outreach performances at senior retirement communities, where students and residents can engage with each other through the gift of music. (For a list of past tour destinations since 1999.)
Recent Glee Club repertoire has included such varied works as William Byrd’s contemplative Ave verum, Eric Whitacre’s mesmerizing Sleep, and Moses Hogan’s stunning spiritual arrangement, The Battle of Jericho. The group frequently takes on larger projects but the bulk of its repertoire is focused on smaller works for chamber choir; occasionally, it has been honored to offer the world, U.S. or West Coast premieres of new music, including Tom Flaherty’s A Timbered Choir (2001) and Shakespeare Sonnets (2004). The ensemble regularly sings music in a wide range of languages including French, German, Italian, Hebrew, Russian, Czech, Polish, Spanish, English, and Latin. (For a list of a past repertoire since 1999.)
Membership in the Glee Club is open to all students enrolled at any of the Claremont Colleges or Claremont Graduate University who are also active, reliable, and strong members of the Pomona College Choir or the Pomona College Orchestra. Singers selected for the ensemble have successfully passed rigorous auditions evaluating their individual strengths in singing and sight reading, their abilities to learn a great deal of music quickly, and their readiness to work within a small ensemble, where blend and musical sensitivity are essential.
The group rehearses in the spring semester: Tuesdays 11:10 a.m.-12:40 p.m. and Thursdays 4:10-5:40 p.m. plus a weekly one-hour sectional. For information on auditions.