Music at Wesleyan
From Glee Club to Gamelan
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Wesleyan University Press
Series: Garnet Books
MUSIC AT WESLEYAN
Table of Contents
This book, through its materials and energy, unleashes a remarkable panorama, just as music itself has done throughout Wesleyan’s history. Prior to the unfolding of Indian and Javanese and Japanese and Ghanaian and Afro-American musics at Wesleyan in the 1960s, the..
Part I: The Early Decades of the “Singing College”
What a scene! A mere thirty years after the founding of Wesleyan, the elegantly-clad Glee Club is seen wandering on foot to the White Mountains, before the construction of Interstate 91 or the production of automobiles. Everywhere the singers stopped, people were glad to offer them...
The Glee Club World
What were the boys singing, when not atop Mt. Washington but back in the Chapel? The program for November 19, 1869, illustrates three kinds of pieces: college songs, classical music favorites—often from opera—and light fare. In a wry Wesleyan way, the composer of “Viva la Wesleyan” is given—misspelled—as “unbekannt,” German for “anonymous,” just as Pat Molloy’s solo...
The “singing college” was also the strumming, bowing, and blowing college. Among the earliest data we have of music at Wesleyan is the 1838 music book of the Speirachordeon band. Marches were common at social events and dances, not just athletic contests in those days. While 1838 is a shade early for photographs, by 1870 we have a fi ne picture of the band, sporting a varied assortment...
The Ceremonial Music World
Old Wesleyan, with its small, homogeneous student body, favored a variety of ceremonial moments that have long gone out of fashion. Class Day, held around the time of commencement, was one of those, and both the ritual and musical moments it sparked seem far from today’s idea of campus life, as for...
Part II: The World Music Era: 1960 and Beyond
Something very surprising happened in the world of music at Wesleyan, beginning in the late 1940s, when David McAllester and Richard Winslow were hired (1947 and 1949 respectively). McAllester was the leading authority on the music of the Navajo people, and one of the four founders of...
World Music Takes Root and Flourishes
Cage’s appearance was not the only new departure for the emerging campus music scene. In the early 1960s, the legendary Indian musician, Ravi Shankar, stopped at Wesleyan on one of his earliest tours to the United States. His visit marked an important milestone on the road to Wesleyan’s future World...
The Experimental Music Tradition Expands
The Wesleyan music vision of the new era was not just about world music. As his 1966 report to the Trustees shows, Richard Winslow had made it clear that the new experimental music forms pioneered by John Cage and others had to have a significant presence on campus. In 1969, Alvin...
Newer World Music Traditions
With new waves of faculty and student interest, music at Wesleyan keeps expanding and morphing over time. For example, African music has expanded from West African drumming to include the string kora tradition under the guidance of Eric...