Grab bag: Gurls, H1N1, and Fantastique

The Virginia Glee Club disbands — in 1912


This week’s Virginia Glee Club history post comes a little late, but better late than never because it sheds light on an interesting chapter of the Club’s history—its apparent, and apparently intermittent, disappearance in the years between 1905 and 1915. Thanks to a new item that has turned up in Google Books, and which I finally got a photocopy of today, I think we can piece together a fairly decent timeline.

We can piece together the history from a few scraps of evidence. First, UVA historian Philip A. Bruce, who wrote the history of the University’s first hundred years, alluded to the Club’s troubles between 1905 and 1915:

…no play was offered in 1910-11. This fact led to the revival of the Glee Club, an association which had disbanded in 1905. A mass-meeting of all the students interested in music was held; a new vocal and instrumental club organized; and rehearsals at once began. This club was composed of twenty members. It gave two concerts in Cabell Hall and four beyond the precincts. Choruses, quartets, and vocal and instrumental solos, were skilfully rendered. This association failed to re-form in 1912-13 and 1913-14, as the result of the absence of an experienced and attentive director and manager.

We know that the group was still active in the fall of 1905. A letter written on October 29, 1905 by Sue Whitmore, the mother of a University of Virginia student, mentions her enjoyment of hearing the Glee Club perform.

We also know that the Club was around in January 1914, from photographic evidence (above). Then, in 1915, the group was “reorganized” and “trained scientifically” by Professor A. L. Hall-Quest.

But what happened to the group between 1905 and 1914? What did Bruce mean that it “failed to reform”? He laid its failure to succeed on poor leadership, but on what evidence? Here’s where the new discovery sheds some light.

In early October of 1912, the following notice appeared (and was reproduced in the Alumni Bulletin, series 3, vol, 5):

We, the officers of the University of Virginia Glee Club, in consideration of the disadvantageous circumstances under which the afore-mentioned club has operated within the past three years, do officially declare said club disbanded, believing that by so doing an ultimate success may be achieved along another line. (Signed): Roger M. Bone, president, Robert V. Funsten, vice-president, Vaughan Camp, secretary, C.A. McKean, treasurer.

(Thanks to the fine folks at Special Collections for sending me a photocopy of the bulletin.)

So now we have a timeline:

  • In late 1905 or maybe early 1906, the Glee Club disbands.
  • In 1910, the Club reforms, responding to a musical vacuum left by the demise of the Arcadians, a musical theatre group, and struggles for a few years with inexperienced musical and logistical leadership.
  • At the beginning of the third season, in October 1912, the officers of the time disband the group temporarily.
  • At the beginning of the fall 1913 semester, the group re-forms (though the photo is dated January 1914, the re-formation must have happened in the fall—the odds of getting so many young men into matching suits for an official portrait in less than a month are probably no better then than they are today).
  • In 1915, the students connect with a professor, A. L. Hall-Quest, who has connections to the Princeton Glee Club tradition and who sets them on a sturdier footing.

Bruce overstated the hiatus by a year, based on the photographic evidence, but otherwise he was right on. The timeline speaks of an organization that was making it, or not, year-to-year, with little to no institutional support. That sort of existence resonates with my memory of the group between 1990 and 1994, with one difference: we had alumni who cared about the group enough to keep it afloat, and the Club guys of the early 20th century did not. There wasn’t a real alumni association, to speak of, until the first World War.

The next question, which will have to wait for another post, is: what happened after Hall-Quest left? He resigned in 1918, and Arthur Fickénscher didn’t take his job at UVa, and the directorship of the group, until sometime in the 1920s. But this answer might have to wait until I can get back to Charlottesville to do some real research.

New mix: september grrls

My latest mix, “september grrls,” did not start out to be (almost) all women artists, but it ended up that way. After strong releases this year from Shannon Worrell, PJ Harvey, Neko Case, and others, plus Kim Gordon’s contributions to the latest Sonic Youth… well, I couldn’t resist. Add to that a few songs that have been kicking around my library forever, waiting for a home, and you’ve got yourself a mix.

  1. This Is What You DoGemma Hayes (Hollow of Morning)
  2. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)Kate Bush (Hounds of Love)
  3. Black Hearted LovePJ Harvey & John Parish (A Woman a Man Walked By)
  4. IamundernodisguiseSchool of Seven Bells (Alpinisms)
  5. Song To BobbyCat Power (Jukebox)
  6. JerichoGreta Gaines (Greta Gaines)
  7. Lake Charles BoogieNellie Lutcher (Oxford American 2003 Southern Music CD No. 6)
  8. If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)The Staple Singers (The Stax Story: Finger-Snappin’ Good [Disc 3])
  9. When the Other Foot Drops, UncleSharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (100 Days, 100 Nights)
  10. Diamond HeartMarissa Nadler (Songs III: Bird On the Water)
  11. If I Can Make You CryShannon Worrell (The Honey Guide)
  12. For Today I Am A BoyAntony and the Johnsons (I Am A Bird Now)
  13. Massage the HistorySonic Youth (The Eternal)
  14. Crater LakeLiz Phair (Whip-Smart)
  15. I’m an AnimalNeko Case (Middle Cyclone (Bonus Track Version))
  16. Who Is It (Carry My Joy On the Left, Carry My Pain On the Right)Björk (Medulla)
  17. The Way I Am (Recorded Live on WERS)Ingrid Michaelson (Be OK)
  18. Sweet Like YouShannon Worrell (The Honey Guide)
  19. At Constant SpeedGemma Hayes (Hollow of Morning)
  20. September GurlsBig Star (#1 Record – Radio City)

Grab bag: Music and passion

Improving iPod FM adapter reception in a VW Passat

This one was counter-intuitive, but it worked. I’ve been suffering through static and interference ever since my Monster iPod FM adapter burned out and I replaced it with a different model. My Passat has the rear-roof-mounted antenna, and it’s apparently too far away from the FM adapter that I use for my iPod. It’s great at pulling in distant radio stations, which tend to swamp the empty channels that I’d normally listen to the iPod on.

So I removed it.

Yep, just unscrewed the antenna and now the reception for the iPod is crystal clear. Smart but totally counter-intuitive.

Credit goes to this anonymous poster on MacOSXHints. I read this a while ago and just today had the nerve to try it. No more static for me!

Grab bag: Brackbill research edition

Grab bag: Outlook, RepRap, drop shadows

Recovering from an iTunes 13001 error

I hesitate to write this post, but since I found very few reliable aids for surviving this error, I’m writing it up in the hope that it will help someone else.

My MacBook Pro (first generation, dented side resulting in unreliable power cord connection, weak battery) shut off sometime overnight. Unfortunately, when I booted it back up, iTunes told me that the library file was corrupt. Given the size of my library and the fact that I’ve got somewhere close to 100 playlists, and that I just spent about two years going through and listening to everything at least once after the last library deletion, I freaked out.

Then I quit iTunes and started thinking. There are now quite a few files that constitute the “iTunes library,” including iTunes Music Library.xml, iTunes Library Extras.itdb, iTunes Library Genius.itdb, and iTunes Library itself. I knew from past experience that it was iTunes Library that held the playcounts and playlists, so I crossed my fingers, moved everything else out of the folder, and started iTunes. Now it started up, but when it tried to rebuild the Genius data, it told me that it couldn’t save it because of a 13001 error.

I did a lot of research, and through some trial and error I hit upon the following steps:

  1. I moved all my non-Apple codecs out of the Library/Quicktime folder. In my case, this was a DivX decoder and encoder, and three component files from Flip4Mac WMV. (This was nonintuitive; thanks to this Apple support discussion post for suggesting it.)
  2. I deleted the ~/Library/Preferences/ file. (This is iTunes preferences, including your default settings for importing and your library location. You’ll want to reset these at the end of the process.)
  3. I re-deleted the the iTunes Library Extras.itdb and iTunes Library Genius.itdb files.
  4. I temporarily moved my external music hard drive from my AirPort Extreme and attached it directly to my Mac. (This might not have been a factor, but I figured it would be a lot faster to get through the Genius rebuild if it didn’t have to do it over an 802.11g network connection. Yes, the MacBook Pro 1st gen only has an 802.11 card, alas.)
  5. I restarted iTunes and let it rebuild the Genius database all day.

When I came home, it had succeeded.

I don’t know if all these steps were necessary, but I do know that when I didn’t delete the preferences file or the codecs, rebuilding was not successful. Whatever: it worked.

Grab bag: Economy hits home edition

Grab bag: Mennonite spies

Songs of the University of Virginia: the 1906 songbook

It’s Friday, so it must be time for some Virginia Glee Club history.

Before the first Songs of the University of Virginia album, there was the songbook. Compiled by A. Frederick Wilson in 1906 and featuring a combination of the still familiar (“The Good Old Song,” “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes”) and the unfamiliar (“The Orange and the Blue”, “Upidee,” just about anything else), there are some fascinating trends in the music. Certainly lots of drinking songs, two sung fully in Latin, and lots of fight songs where “old Eli” (Yale) and “the tiger” (Princeton) are the opponents.

And there is much that is destined to remain obscure: certainly I can’t imagine how to interpret the song “The Man Who Has Plenty of Good Peanuts,” with its verse “The man who has plenty of Pomp’s peculiar patent perpetual pocket panoramic ponies for passing examinations/And giveth his neighbor none /He shan’t have any of my Pomp’s peculiar patent perpetual pocket panoramic ponies for passing examinations/When his Pomp’s peculiar patent perpetual pocket panoramic ponies for passing examinations are gone.” But with the majority of songs containing four part harmony, and with many fight songs that could be revived, the book is definitely worth a download.

Yes, download–you can get the PDF from Google Books, since the book is out of copyright. So while you’re waiting to purchase the Glee Club‘s new album Songs of the University of Virginia, check out some of the historical precedents.

For incentive, here’s the foreward, in which credit is given to the Virginia Glee Club of the time for keeping the songs alive:

P.S.: This is one of the only sources I’ve seen for sheet music for “Upidee,” one of three songs mentioned as a Virginia favorite in 1871 just before the first appearance of the Glee Club.

Grab bag: Books, iPhones, beer, and other good things

Grab bag: iPhone 3.0 edition, plus valuable prizes