When Chris Kiver, director of the Penn State Glee Club, revealed his dreams for the club during its 125th anniversary celebration in 2014, he never thought those dreams would become a reality. But former Glee Clubber Mike Helms (’68 B.S., ’74 M.S. Business) was listening. Within a few months, Helms and his wife, Martha, made the decision to offer a dollar-for-dollar match of any gift made to the Glee Club Endowment up to $50,000 between January 1 and April 30, 2015, or until the total has been met.
“I was overwhelmed and humbled. It's a testament to the incredible experiences the Glee Club offers Penn State students,” said Kiver. “For many, these experiences provide life-long, cherished memories, which all generations of Glee Clubbers can relate to. Clearly Mike's experiences as a Glee Club member have inspired him and Martha to make this wonderful offer so that present and future Glee Clubbers will benefit from rich musical and fraternal experiences.”
Kiver’s dreams for the Glee Club include funding support in five areas: uniforms, tours, music compositions, retreats, and the Penn State Glee Club Men of Song Festival.
“Quite simply, this has the potential to transform how the Glee Club operates,” said Kiver, noting the funds generated will ease the financial burden on Glee Club members. “We will be able to help defray the significant expense of uniform purchase, as well as the cost of the annual spring break tour.”
The funds will also allow the Glee Club to continue to expand the Men of Song Festival, a daylong festival at University Park for middle and high school students, and to commission composers to write new music specifically for the Glee Club. “This not only expands our own music library, but those of other male choirs around the world. It's exciting to think this gift will have an impact well beyond University Park,” explained Kiver.
The Glee Club, founded in 1888, has performed across the United States and overseas, including state and divisional conventions of the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). Recent highlights include performances at the National Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., and Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh. The Glee Club has hosted the Men of Song festival since 2012. The oldest student organization at Penn State, the Glee Club’s members hail from all colleges and schools on the University Park campus.
Kiver and the Glee Club are preparing to embark upon their spring break tour though the Northeast, visiting Massachusetts and Connecticut. According to current Glee Club member Michael DePodwin, the announcement of the Dream Matching Challenge has boosted the group’s spirit and anticipation for the tour.
“The excitement throughout the Glee Club was palpable after Dr. Kiver announced the Dream Matching Challenge. In general, Glee Clubbers exude a natural passion for our group since we are aware of our rich history and our mutual love of making great music together. This fundraising campaign has increased that passion to a higher level,” said DePodwin, who is the group’s webmaster.
“After speaking to some of the guys, and knowing how much the Glee Club means to them, we will surely be donating to the cause—though perhaps more on a college budget. The Dream Matching Challenge has the potential to transform the way the Glee Club does business for the better, and my peers and I can't wait to see the results!” added DePodwin.
According to Kiver, donating to the campaign will allow Glee Club alumni to continue to feel connected to a group that was special to them as Penn State students.
“The alumni have already given us so much by singing while they were here at Penn State. The great thing about giving now is that they can continue to feel a part of the Penn State Glee Club family by helping us to become better, to grow, and to enable more people to experience the sounds of the Glee Club,” said Kiver.
For more information about the Dream Matching Challenge, visit the Penn State Glee Club website: http://www.pennstategleeclub.com/.
This news story was written by Stephanie Swindle, College of Arts and Architecture's enews coordinator.