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Harvard Glee Club and USF Chamber Singers in Concert

Performance at St. John’s Episcopal Church March 19 is one of five stops on southern tour.

The Harvard Glee Club is the oldest men's collegiate choir in the U.S.

By Barbara Melendez
      USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (March 9, 2015) –The USF Chamber Singers will share the bill with the Harvard University Glee Club (HGC) during its spring tour through the southeast United States.

The 54-voice, all-male chorus will perform in a joint concert with the USF Chamber Singers at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 906 S. Orleans Avenue in Tampa, March 19, 7:30 p.m., sponsored by the Harvard Club of the West Coast of Florida. Tickets are $25 and $100 for premium reserved seats and free for USF students with ID at the door.

USF's Director of Choral Studies James K. Bass.

A chance meeting is behind USF’s participation in the tour. James K. Bass, director of choral studies in the School of Music at USF and HGC Conductor Andrew Clark ran into each other at the American Choral Directors Association Conference in Baltimore.

“Last February I was singing with the professional vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire and was able to chat with Andy,” Bass said. “He asked if we – USF – might be interested in having an event with the Harvard Glee Club. Of course, I said, ‘Yes!’”

The audience can expect to hear the best of what both groups have to offer.

The USF Chamber Singers is a coed ensemble.

“Both ensembles will be singing repertoire from their own respective seasons,” Bass said. “I’m sure Harvard will be touring with exciting and varied repertoire. The USF Chamber Singers will be singing a selection of works representing some of their work this year which includes two works by living composers.

“One of the pieces on this program will be sung entirely in German so we have been coaching diction and language as well as making musical decisions. The Chamber Singers have been rehearsing several times a week in preparation for our portion of the concert.”

The two singing groups will join together for shared learning during the day at the USF campus in Tampa before the concert.

“Harvard is one of the oldest and most respected institutions in the United States,” Bass noted. “USF is the youngest of the large universities to be entirely planned in the 20th century. I think it will be wonderful and fascinating to hear both of the choral traditions at these schools side-by-side. Singing and making music has been important to both institutions for a long time and I think it is important for the community to see and hear that!”

One of the concert organizers, Bruce Himelstein, MD, has ties to both USF and HGC. Currently a graduate student in the College of Business, he is a Harvard University and HGC alumnus (Class of ’83). He also served as a manager of HGC in his senior year. The current manager reached out to him for assistance when it was time to schedule the southern tour.

“There is an informal group of alums and Harvard Clubs collaborating as well, as the group will be in Naples and Orlando as well,” Dr. Himelstein said. HGC is also traveling to Savannah, GA. and Charleston, SC.

This rare event promises a unique opportunity to USF’s students.

“I’m hoping it will allow our singers to develop contacts within the musical community and will instill a sense of pride and purpose within them,” said Bass. “Harvard sought us out and I think it will be a wonderful accolade to add to the accomplishments of the USF School of Music.”

The USF School of Music offers numerous performance opportunities through ensembles, including choral groups, bands, jazz ensembles, orchestra, percussion ensembles, electronic music groups, as well as a host of chamber ensembles.

HGC is the oldest men’s collegiate chorus in the United States. The spring tour is an annual event when the HGC combines with other university groups to perform major choral-orchestra works. The club tours within the U.S. and goes on a foreign tour every four to five years. It went from social club in 1858 and performances of college songs and glees accompanied by banjos and mandolins to a full repertoire of the best in choral music in 1912. By 1917 HGC began performing with the Boston Symphony and took its first tour to Europe in 1921.

For additional information and tickets, visit or call ArtsNaples World Festival (239) 390-2788.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563

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