“Fraternity, history, musicality, commitment to OBU, commitment to the kingdom of God. The foundations of our singing are the friendships and work for the kingdom.” – Dr. Christopher Mathews
Historically created by just three men with a passion for singing, the Bison Glee Club has been praising the Lord since 1938. The club was founded as a singing group for those who enjoy it as a hobby and has turned into one of the most well-known clubs on campus.
Initially, the club grew from those three members to boasting a whole team. The club surged in popularity especially in the 1950s, as soldiers returned home and took up new past times. The Bison Glee Club on campus today may not have the same members, but they have the same traditions.
The tradition and values of the club are best summarized in the personal mission statement of the Bison Glee Club: “The purpose of the Bison Glee Club shall be to promote brotherhood, to develop musicianship, to be of service to OBU, and to further the ministry of Jesus Christ through the study, rehearsal and performance of outstanding sacred and secular choral music.”
Today, Andrew Hill leads the club as president with Kyle Daughabaugh assisting as vice-president. Together, they assist in leading the group with anything from rehearsals to special events.
Beginning rehearsal, the group first warms up through a variety of vocal exercises. Some of these exercises are traditional warm-ups that originate from the very beginning of the club, passed down to the present day. Then, they enter into the first song on their line up to rehearse.
Dean of Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts Dr Christopher Mathews leads, orchestrates, accompanies and conducts the singing group to sharpen their singing skills for the group. The rehearsal songs are planned in advance with emphasis on variety in order to intertwine learning historic melodies as well as strengthening and challenging the singing skills of the group.
While normally the group would be singing with all voices present, due to COVID they have temporarily split according to vocal range in order to make rehearsal pandemic friendly.
The virus has also spoilt several retreats that the group would normally do, leaving many saddened about how little they are able to do this year.
Similarly, during this time of year, the Bison Glee Club would be touring the states, singing in a variety of churches in order to accomplish the spreading of the gospel and their musical talents. Unfortunately, that will not be the case this year.
Despite this, members of the group still look back to the past adventures of the Bison Glee Club and tell the stories with pride.
Caleb Gray, senior physics and mathematics major said, “Despite COVID, I still think of the good times I’ve spent with the Glee Club. A Brotherhood.”
In a similar fashion, Casey Cox, senior natural science major summarized it as “Brotherhood.” He said, “Our visits to Falls Creek was nice to be in a big group singing music, and it was nice being in this great big friend group.”
The experienced singers assure the newer members that there are lots of laughs to be had, even without those fancy trips, as well as promising them they will likely have a turn for adventures with the group next year.
Mathews said despite all the uncertainty with most organizational planning, the Bison Glee Club will still perform publicly on campus.
“All are welcome to attend. Our Fall Chorale concert is open and welcome to all. The Bison Glee Club will be performing on November 3rd, at 7:30 p.m.,” Mathews said.
Despite COVID, this is one age-old club here at home that will continue doing the Lord’s work.