Past and present of glee harmonies at EwhaThe word “glee,” which was once used to describe one’s feeling of satisfaction, seems to be more familiar in its musical meaning these days, thanks to the popularity of the teen crooning TV show and its weekly display of rookie singers.
The glee club trend arrived in America during the mid-19th century then made its way to Korea or more precisely, to Ewha around the year 1900.
Korea’s first choir dates back to 1897, according to the historical book “Ewha Old and New.” One of the teachers who were volunteering at Ewha Hak-dang suggested initiating a choral education.
Back then, missionaries at Ewha thought a certain level of piano playing skills, music talent, and speech skills were necessary to become a national leader, and Ms. Nellie Miller, the first instructor of Ewha Glee Club, took the first steps in nurturing those kinds of leaders.
Since then, the Glee Club has held performances throughout the country, singing not only internationally famous hymns and chorus, but also arranged pieces of Korean folk songs.
Singing Korean folk songs was the Glee Club’s bold challenge against the prejudice that Korean folk songs were of little value during the Japanese colonial era.
A flock of girls dressed in white Korean traditional dresses traveled throughout the country for performances. Their classical and elegant beauty combined with the appeal of the young women singing choral music was woven together into a national sensation.
Ewha Glee Club’s fame quickly spread across the country provided a chance to perform at the White House under the baton of Professor Lee Kyoo-soon (Vocal), who was the director of the group for 26 years.
The Glee Club was also invited to the International College Choir Competition to compete with participants from all over the world at the Lincoln Center in New York in 1972. They presented many challenging choral pieces and received international acclaim for their diversity from the foreign news as the versatile Korean cultural delegation that absorbed all kinds of music, from classic European choral music to Korean traditional folk music played with gayageum (Korean zither), janggu (traditional Korean drum) and other instruments.
According to Professor Yoon Myung-ja (Vocal) the status of the group changed from an extracurricular activity to a regular part of the curriculum in 2000.
Under the direction of professor Yoon, the Glee Club now performs concerts during chapel, and at outside stages as well. The Glee Club is comprised of roughly 35 students from a wide variety of majors and minors. Choir members are selected by an audition that is held before the start of the semester. As a school course, it is mandatory for students to take Glee Club for a minimum of two semesters.
“During my sophomore year, I started to suffer from depression because of overloading stress,” Kim Soo-jung (`09, Philosophy) said. “Singing in the choir played a big role in recovering. The mesmerizing experience of making vocal music together naturally healed and helped me crawl out of my shell.”
Throughout the recent performances, the Glee Club has been striving to provide contemporary relevance through performances while also showcasing its rich history of connection and innovation.
“Being a part of the Ewha Glee Club, being attuned with students majoring in music is an extraordinary experience,” Kim Hee-jung (’08, Pharmacy) said. “Since Professor Yoon also hopes to share this with students from other majors, including foreign exchange students, I wish students wouldn’t be too scared about auditions and try out because I think it is worth it.”
저작권자 © Ewha Voice 무단전재 및 재배포 금지