Whither the Concert on the Lawn?

Today’s Virginia Glee Club history moment is a look at the Concert on the Lawn. The Glee Club’s entry in the collegiate tradition of “step singing,” the Concert on the Lawn was inaugurated in 1936 as a community sing with an announcement in College Topics, featuring this trenchant quotation from conductor Harry Rogers Pratt:

Ability to sing is not a pre-requisite. Those who think they can sing are wanted especially. Tenors will be protected by Beta and Captain Mack. Baying, bellowing, and booing will be allowed. ‘Sweet Adeline’ will be sung as often as demand warrants.

The concert was a roaring success, with the review reporting:

With beer in front of them, beer in back of them, beer inside of them, “Pratt’s Boys” went to town last night and lifted the skies from the steps of the Rotunda.Some say the interlude was caused by a shortage of foaming brew, but whatever it was, either the Lure of the Lawn or the Radiance of the Rotunda, it was good!

Over the next sixty years, Club continued to mount free performances on the Lawn in spring afternoons, and surprises–whether community sing-alongs of Old MacDonald or four-voice performances of “Freebird”–abounded.

And then… the tradition died out. Reports are mixed on the cause: some say that a new Glee Club conductor feared his men couldn’t be properly heard in an outdoor venue (as if that were ever the point). Whatever the case, sometime in the late nineties was the last time there was a free Concert on the Lawn by the Glee Club. Here’s hoping that we will see another one sometime soon.

Grab bag: two phase commits and magic trackpads

Grab bag: revivals afoot

New mixes: your scary 80s 7 and 8

We call this “unclogging the pipes.” I have probably 20 mixes in various partial states of repair, and it’s high time I start publishing them so that I can make room for the real stuff.

So here are two—maybe, dare I hope, my last two—80s mixes. As always, the first one is the stuff I’m ashamed (and secretly happy) to remember, while the second one is stuff I would have been proud to listen to had I known about it while I was growing up.

Your Scary 80s 7

  1. Be near MeABC (How to Be a Zillionaire)
  2. Always Something There to Remind MeNaked Eyes (The Best of Naked Eyes)
  3. She Blinded Me With ScienceThomas Dolby (The Golden Age of Wireless)
  4. Your LoveThe Outfield (Play Deep)
  5. Spies Like UsPaul McCartney (Press to Play)
  6. Your Wildest DreamsThe Moody Blues (Anthology: the Moody Blues)
  7. Rain In the SummertimeThe Alarm (Eye of the Hurricane (Remastered))
  8. AfricaToto (Toto IV)
  9. No One Is To BlameHoward Jones (Dream Into Action)
  10. The Captain of Her HeartDouble (The Captain of Her Heart)
  11. Life In a Northern TownThe Dream Academy (Rhino Hi-Five: The Dream Academy – EP)
  12. Tonight, Tonight, TonightGenesis (Genesis: The Hits – Turn It On Again)
  13. Sanctify YourselfSimple Minds (Once Upon a Time)
  14. Higher Love (Full)Steve Winwood (Back in the High Life)
  15. I Wanna Be a CowboyBoys Don’t Cry (Boys Don’t Cry)
  16. Pump Up the Volume (USA 12)Colourbox (Best of Colourbox: 1982-1987)
  17. The ReflexDuran Duran (Duran Duran: Greatest)

Your Scary 80s 8

  1. Gardening At NightR.E.M. (Dead Letter Office)
  2. Alive and KickingSimple Minds (Once Upon a Time)
  3. You Be Illin’Run-DMC (Raising Hell)
  4. Do You Really Want 2 Hurt MeCulture Club (Culture Club (Box Set))
  5. West End GirlsPet Shop Boys (Please)
  6. Moments in LoveArt of Noise ((Who’s Afraid Of) The Art Of Noise?)
  7. Let the Day BeginMichael Been AKA The Call (The Best of the Call)
  8. The Perfect KissNew Order (Low-Life)
  9. Fire WomanThe Cult (Sonic Temple)
  10. One Thing Leads to AnotherThe Fixx (20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Fixx (Remastered))
  11. Banned in D.C.Bad Brains (Bad Brains)
  12. Rise AboveBlack Flag (Damaged)
  13. Small Man, Big MouthMinor Threat (First Two 7″s)
  14. Kinky Sex Makes the World Go ‘RoundDead Kennedys (Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death)
  15. I Want You BackHoodoo Gurus (Stoneage Romeo)
  16. RedMission Of Burma (Signals, Calls, And Marches)
  17. You Are My FriendThe Rain Parade (Emergency Third Rail Power Trip: Explosions In The Glass Palace)
  18. JetfighterThree O’Clock (Sixteen Tambourines/Baroque Hoedown)
  19. I Love Rock N’ RollJoan Jett and the Blackhearts (I Love Rock N’ Roll)
  20. Beat BoxArt of Noise (Into Battle with the Art of Noise)

Grab bag: AT&T network down, MacPaint source opened

Grab bag: moonscapes, zero days, fiddling

Remembering Angelo F. Lucadamo

My father-in-law died late on Wednesday night. He was 90 and lived every one of those years with passion. I remember meeting him for the first time 15 years ago, and being struck initially by his age but also by his energy and drive. The man could charm anyone: I remember him deep in conversation with my Uncle Forrest, swapping stories, and being struck by how natural it was for this son of Italian immigrants from Pennsylvania coal country to converse with my very Southern uncle.

Al always engaged everything he came across with curiosity and humor. I remember hearing the story about his first drive through the south–it was the middle of World War II, and he, as a petroleum engineer, was heading to the Gulf to contribute to the war effort by working at a refinery. He stopped somewhere in the deep south for breakfast and placed an order. The waitress asked if he wanted grits. Of course, he had no idea what grits were, but didn’t want to be impolite, so said, “Yeah, I guess I’ll have one or two.” There were many stories that he told over and over again, but I never tired of that one–it said a lot about his sense of adventure.

Most of all, I remember sitting around a lot of tables with him. Even to the end, he loved food and drink, and would always ask for his wine glass to be refilled– “Poco, poco“–look and wink, and say, “Quando festa, festa.” I think those are some pretty good words to live by.

The online condolences book is here.

John Oliver on memorization

John Oliver, founding director of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, was on a great roundtable on WAMC about the chorus, memorization, Michael Tilson Thomas, his garden, and a bunch of other topics.


It makes me want to head off to Tanglewood right now.

In other news, I am heading to Tanglewood. Tomorrow, actually, to sing the Mozart Requiem and Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms with Michael Tilson Thomas. I’ve never sung with him before, but based on how the performances of the Mahler went last week, we should be in for an exciting ride.

New MacBook Pro time

I suppose it was inevitable. My last MacBook Pro was Apple’s first, the 1.83 GHz 15″ model that was the first to bear the name back in 2006. That was one in a series of upgrades that saw me getting a new machine every few years, thanks to a series of good product launches by Apple and a series of appalling product failures (power supply failures on the G3, the stuck hinge on the G4…) As I noted back then, the first generation MacBook Pro had case damage that rendered the battery unchargeable.

What happened afterwards was the trackpad button started sticking. And suddenly every time I tried to select text or files, the mouse got stuck in drag mode. It finally got to the point, yesterday, where I couldn’t even type. And Lisa said, “It’s time for a new laptop.”

It was time. Four years and four months, the longest time between machine refreshes that I’ve ever had since the year 2000. A testament as much to our financial priorities as to the quality of the machine.

And now, the new MacBook Pro is here. Most everything has been migrated to the new machine, a 13″ Pro model, which has, for the record, 4 GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard disk, and a 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor. Twice the RAM, thrice the hard disk, and about 32% more CPU clock cycles doesn’t seem like it should make the computer a lot faster, but it does, oh it does.

And I am absolutely in love with the small form factor. The screen has about the same pixel dimensions as my old one but in a smaller form factor, and it’s a nice lightweight machine, rock solid, with a million nice features. We should have done this a lot sooner.

New features at the Glee Club wiki

Malcolm W. Gannaway

This weekend as a bunch of Tanglewood Festival Chorus members and I recouped our strength after the July 4 concert, we got to talking. One of the women was a Wellesley College alum from the mid-1980s who, upon learning that my friend and I were both from UVA, said, “I remember UVA, especially the Glee Club. The men were almost as nice as the cadets who would come sometimes, only they didn’t feel compelled to offer an arm to the women they found walking about campus.” She proceeded to say some highly complimentary things to the men of the Glee Club; they must have made quite an impression, over 25 years ago. The encounter gave me the motivation to dig into the Virginia Glee Club Wiki with renewed energy over the weekend.

The outcome: I added a bunch of new ways to look at the information on the Glee Club wiki. First, a milestone: we now have season pages for 70 years of Glee Club history; that’s half the Glee Club’s chronological age and more than half of the active seasons of the group’s history (given the hiatuses in the early part of the century). After last week’s president search, we now have pages for 49 Glee Club presidents, as well. (Next horizon there: the 1980s.)

I’ve also added some categorization to the wiki. You can browse the history by chronology, with sub-categories for every decade. There’s also a category (as yet incomplete) for Glee Club members who were Lawn residents, with a special focus on 5 West Lawn. You can also browse the available photographs (still working on clarifying the names of some of these).

And in the middle of all this organization, there’s still room for discovery. Today I found, in the Holsinger archive at the UVA library, a photograph of Malcolm W. Gannaway (see above), famous for serving as president in two discontinuous years and for providing the student leadership necessary to get the dormant Club up and running again in the Hall-Quest years. I would never have found him without the research already in the wiki, as his Glee Club affiliation is not mentioned in the archives. My hope is that as we continue to build out the records that have been begun in the wiki, we can continue to deepen our understanding of this group that affects lives so deeply.