The Fairfield University Glee Club celebrates its 60th anniversary April 14 with a concert and world premiere


Sixty years ago, when Fairfield University first opened its doors to students, the first club on campus was organized, the Fairfield University Glee Club. On Saturday, April 14 at 8 p.m., Dr. Carole Ann Maxwell, conductor, will take the podium and lead current members of The Glee Club who will be joined by 85 alumni of the university's former Glee Clubs in a gala 60th anniversary concert that blends sacred and secular music. The event features a world premiere, commissioned by the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University for this celebration and composed by the renowned American composer, Gwyneth Walker. The concert will be held at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on the university campus. The recorded concert will be accessible through iTunes U at Fairfield University, http://www.fairfield.edu/itunesu.

In a campus community with so many diverse interests, Fairfield University's current students and those from the past have been drawn to The Glee Club because, though they may come from a variety of disciplines, they share a deep and abiding love of music and a common desire to achieve excellence in it. Such is the legacy of the "Ambassadors of Song," as the original club was named in 1947.

The name was especially appropriate at that time because the original group truly were ambassadors, spreading the word about the new Jesuit university that had opened and was thriving on the Fairfield, Conn. campus. Under the direction of Simon G. Harak, and moderated by Rev. John P. Murray, S.J., the group traveled throughout the Northeast and Midwest performing on local radio stations, at parishes and even Carnegie Hall. The verve of the early days is still on display and is apparent in the varied choices of songs that make up the evening's program.

The world premiere of Gwyneth Walker's “Songs to the Lord of Peace” is a synchronicity of celebrations; not only is it the Fairfield University Glee Club's 60th anniversary, it is also Dr. Walker's 60th birthday. The Connecticut native composed this work with the words of acclaimed Catholic theologian, poet, author, social activist and pacifist, Thomas Merton, in mind. As a Quaker commissioned to compose for a Catholic university, Dr. Walker sought to blend her beliefs in a universal context by seizing the work of, as she describes him, her "favorite Catholic author" and express their shared philosophy in the unifying themes of faith, equality and peace.

In addition, The Glee Club will perform selections from the choral work of composers Antonio Vivaldi, Daniel E. Gawthrop, Daniel Pinkham, Marvin Curtis and Claude Debussy.

Dr. Maxwell is one of America's preeminent conductors of collegiate, community and professional choral ensembles and has served as director of choral and liturgical music for Fairfield University since 1980.

Tickets for the gala 60th anniversary concert are now available online at www.quickcenter.com or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. For further information, visit the website at www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 19, 2007

Vol. 39, No. 174