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Men of Newton Spreading The Gift of Song

By Kristen Bosse

While there is always something magical about a group of people united in song, a four-part men's chorus really has a distinctive sound. Mixed and all-female choruses also produce amazing music, but there's something about the tones of an all-male chorus that is very appealing those in the audience. Perhaps it is the fact that a chorus full of just men is somewhat of a rare occurrence nowadays. Society has produced certain norms that define appropriate behavior for each gender group. It is because of this that boys are usually encouraged to engage in sports, while the arts is seen as more of a woman's activity. The increase in the number of entertainment options, as well as a decreased emphasis on music programs in some schools has led to a decline in the number of men who seek out singing groups.

Highland Glee Club

However, a chorus in Newton is defying this trend by continuing to have a strong presence in the Greater Boston area after 100 years of existence! Originally known as the Highland Glee Club of Newton Highlands, the group was formed by a small group of men who loved to sing and fellowship together. As the popularity of the chorus grew all over Massachusetts, the Newton was dropped from their name and they officially became The Highland Glee Club. They now rehearse in Needham and have an annual performance in Needham. There is of course, a performance in Newton annually as well.

Over the span of their existence, hundreds of men have sung in their chorus and spread the joy of their performances. On Sunday, February 24, 2008 in the War Memorial Auditorium at the Newton City Hall located on famous Commonwealth Avenue, the Glee Club presented its 100th Anniversary concert, celebrating each decade they have been together with songs from their first, last and intermediate concert programs. The chorus now currently has twenty-five members and is more popular than ever in the Newton community.

Marketing and Publicity Chair, Aaron Todd was nice enough to share what he loves most about participating in the chorus.
"Personally, I've enjoyed getting to know some of the history around the music we sing; what the lives of the composers were like, where the songs were popular, etc. Our director, David Tiedman, does an amazing job teaching us little tidbits about the music as we learn it. In our fall 2014 concert, we sang songs of the Civil War to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the conflict, and it was fascinating to hear the difference in the music from the beginning of the war, when the music consisted of upbeat marches, to the end of the war, when songs were morose and people were mourning those who had been lost in battle. "

Nowadays, the chorus tries to do everything they can to encourage those who hope to pursue a life in music. Each year, the Highland Glee Club awards provide a $1,500 scholarship to a local high school senior who plans to continue the study of music after graduation. The winner of the scholarship (which will be determined this weekend) also performs at their annual spring concert, scheduled for April 19th of this year.

Those interested in seeing them in concert should attend, or consider attending their Holiday concert in early December. This year the chorus also did something special with their "Singing Valentines" program. Residents in the Greater Boston area were invited to book a four-person quartet to go and sing three songs for their Valentine. It ended up being extremely popular and will be done again next year. If you're interested be sure to book them in early February to secure a spot.

Those interested in learning more about the chorus, or simply want to take a listen to some of their performances, check out their Facebook page here: www.highlandgleeclub.com.

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