Morehouse College Glee Club
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Morehouse College Glee Club embraces a ninety-year tradition of musical excellence and achievement. The Glee Club has continued in this tradition through the dedication and commitment of its members and the leadership that our directors have provided throughout the years. It is a tradition that has bestowed upon the Glee Club a vast history of attainment and shall provide it with a secure future of even greater accomplishments. It is the mission of the Morehouse College Glee Club to keep its standard of excellence.
The origins of the Morehouse College Glee Club precede its official founding date of 1911. Morehouse College, which was then Atlanta Baptist College, had a music professor named Miss Georgia M. Starr. She served the College from 1903-1905 and again from 1908-1911. In Miss Starr's absence, Miss Lucy Z. Reynolds served for two years and Mrs. Grace D. Walsemann served for one year. Miss Starr directed the choral ensemble, which consisted of ten to twelve students, and the orchestra that consisted of five to six students. Edmund Jenkins, a brilliant music student, also led both groups.
Kemper Harreld assumed directorship of these two groups, officially founding the Glee Club when he joined the College's music faculty in the Fall of 1911. Mr. Harreld was born and raised in Muncie, Indiana. He was an accomplished violinist who graduated from the Chicago Music College. He also studied music in Berlin. Mr. Harreld originally planned to stay at Morehouse College (then Atlanta Baptist College) for one year, but ended up serving the College as Director of the Morehouse College Glee Club and Chairman of the Music Department for fourty-two years. He retired in 1953 and was responsible for initiating the Glee Club's strong tradition of excellence and passing it on to its members.
Wendell Phillips Whalum, Sr., '52, took the helm as the Glee Club's second director upon the retirement of Kemper Harreld. Dr. Whalum was a prized student of Kemper Harreld and had served as Student Director during his tenure in the Glee Club. Dr. Whalum assumed directorship shortly after earning ths Master's degree from Columbia University. For a period of two years, 1961-1963, Albert T. Perkins, '59, served as interim Director of the Glee Club while Dr. Whalum completed some of his doctoral requirements. Dr. Whalum went on to complete his doctorate at the University of Iowa in 1965. Dr. Whalum, more commonly known as "Doc", served Morehouse College and the Glee Club with the continued tradition of excellence until his untimely passing on June 9, 1987. Under the direction of Dr. Whalum, the Glee Club performed for the funeral services of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., '48, and for the Second International Choral Festival at Lincoln Center in New York. In March 1972, the Glee Club made a month-long tour of five African countries. The Glee Club sang for the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and in the East Room of the White House with Coretta Scott King in 1978. In the Spring of 1987, the Glee Club recorded "I'm Buildin' Me a Home", arranged by former Glee Club member Uzee Brown, Jr., '72, for the soundtrack of Spike Lee's movie "School Daze".
In the Fall semester of 1987, David E. Morrow, '80, assumed directorship of the Glee Club. David Morrow was a prized student of "Doc", just as "Doc" was of Kemper Harreld. He was also a scholar at Morehouse College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1980 as Valedictorian. He earned his Master's degree at the University of Michigan in 1981 and then returned to his alma mater as a part of the music faculty and as Assistant Director of the Glee Club. During the 1992-1993 school year, Harding Epps, '74, served as interim Director while Dr. Morrow finished the coursework for the doctoral degree. In 1995, Dr. Morrow received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
On January 18, 1993, the Glee Club, as part of the Spelman-Morehouse Chorus, sang at Atlanta's Symphony Hall with soprano Jessye Norman in a concert celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The Glee Club also performed, along with other choruses from the Atlanta University Center, the National Anthem with Natalie Cole for Super Bowl XXVIII. They participated with Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan and Trisha Yearwood in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games held in Atlanta. In the same Summer, the Glee Club toured cities along the Volga River in Russia. In 1998, the Glee Club toured Poland at the invitation of opera performer Maria Folton in celebration of her 50 years as a performer. In May of 2001, the Glee Club took a week-long performing tour of Bermuda and completed a west coast tour in May 2003. In February 2002, the Glee Club performed for the Witness Concert with the Plymouth Music Series and premiered the work Of Dreams and Other Possibilities written by Patrice Rushen.
The members of the Glee Club have earned such honors as the Merrill Travel Study Award for overseas experience, a listing in Who's Who Among American Colleges and Universities, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. The members do not receive academic credit, but sing as a labor of love. Their majors include all offered by the college, and the geographical residencies encompass the U.S., Africa, and the Caribbean. The Glee Club is the official singing organization of Morehouse College and is on duty to serve the president at all times throughout the year. Along with local concerts, there is an annual spring tour which averages ten to fifteen cities in two to three weeks.
The Glee Club's history is to be treasured by past and present accomplishments, but it cannot afford to become complacent with its tradition of excellence. The Glee Club's history inspires each member to reach higher heights as the tradition of excellence continues.
David Morrow is a native of Rochester, New York. He earned the Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in 1980. While at Morehouse, he became a member of Phi Beta Kappa, was awarded the Kemper Harreld Award for Excellence in Music, received departmental honors, and graduated Valedictorian of his class. He received the Master of Music degree from the University of Michigan in 1981 and was elected to Pi Kappa Lambda. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in 1995. He has studied conducting with Wendell Whalum, Thomas Hilbish, Elmer Thomas, John Leman, Earl Rivers, Elizabeth Green, Teri Murai, Fiora Contino and Donald Neuen. He has taken conducting master classes with Stephen Darlington, Jan Szyrocki, Dale Warland and Sir David Willcocks.
Dr. Morrow has been a member of the Music faculty at Morehouse College since 1981. He served as Assistant Director of the Morehouse College Glee Club until 1987, when he succeeded Dr. Wendell P. Whalum as Director of the Glee Club. He is also Director of the Wendell P. Whalum Community Chorus (formerly known as the Atlanta University Center Community Chorus), Co-Director of the Spelman-Morehouse Chorus, and Conductor for Onyx Opera Atlanta. In December 1991, Mr. Morrow conducted the Glee Club for the Kennedy Center Honors as part of the tribute to Robert Shaw, Conductor Laureate, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. On January 18, 1993, he conducted soprano Jessye Norman and the Spelman-Morehouse Chorus at Atlanta's Symphony Hall in a concert celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. In January of 1994, he conducted the combined choruses of the Atlanta University Center and Natalie Cole singing the National Anthem for Super Bowl XXVIII. In April of the same year, he conducted the Morehouse College Glee Club in a concert with the Black Music Repertory Ensemble at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Illinois. In 1996, Dr. Morrow conducted the Morehouse College Glee Club during a tour of Russia and for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games. Most recently, he conducted the Glee Club during a tour of Poland in 1998, Bermuda in May of 2001 and South Africa in March of 2008.
In June of 1990, Mr. Morrow conducted combined choirs and brass from the Atlanta University Center schools for the Academic Convocation for Nelson Mandela at Morehouse College. He was choral director for the film Trumpet of Conscience, which was produced by Turner Broadcasting in December of 1985. He lectured on "African-American Music: The Oral Tradition" for the 1992 and 1993 Choral Conducting Workshop at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Morrow has served as a clinician and/or lectured at the Hampton University Ministers/Musicians Conference, the Iowa Choral Directors Association Meeting, the University of Tennessee - Chattanooga, the South Carolina Choral Directors Association Meeting, the University of Cincinnati, the Detroit Public Schools Mid-Semester Music Workshop and the 1998 Intercollegiate Men's Choruses, Inc. National Seminar. In the fall of 1994, he read his paper entitled "The Choral Music of Wendell Whalum" for the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Inc. (ASALH). In August of 2002, he was guest conductor for the first Festival of Spirituals organized by the Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano in Guyaquil, Ecuador.
Dr. Morrow is a member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Musicians Association, and is the President of the National Association of Negro Musicians. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Intercollegiate Men's Choruses, Inc. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Georgia Music Educators Association, Sigma Alpha Iota and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.