In celebration of the Down Town Glee Club’s 90th Anniversary, our concert will take a musical tour of the world, honoring the diversity and richness of its abundant cultures, and the rhythms and influence they’ve contributed to the world of song and the human spirit. Throughout its nine decades, the Down Town Glee Club has promoted brotherhood through music with its continued spirit of inclusion, love and tolerance, regardless of race, creed or religion. It’s a quality we are proud of and one we intend to continue for the next 90 years and beyond.
Our concert will feature the following:
More than eighty years ago, a group of men came together on a wintry February evening on Vesey Street to form a new cultural organization which they called the Down Town Glee Club. The meeting had been arranged by two young men who had served aboard the same ship while in the U.S. Navy.
Channing Lefebvre and Arthur Schwartz would later recall talking about forming such an enterprise while standing at the ship’s starboard rail somewhere in the cold North Atlantic. Channing became the club’s first conductor, and Arthur its first president. Over a period of several weeks, the singers met every Wednesday night, rehearsing a varied program with the help of a twenty-four year old accompanist, George Mead. By the date of the concert, May 12, 1927, more than one-hundred men joined to perform in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Roosevelt. The concert was a huge success by all accounts, and the Down Town Glee Club was well on its way to becoming a well respected member of New York’s music community.
The club continues to present two concerts each year - one in the winter and one in the spring. In addition, it has always performed other special concerts. In recent years the concerts have been held in St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway, not more than a block from where it all began. There are very few male glee clubs performing today. They represent a somewhat unique sound compared to the most mixed groups that abound. Popular music changed a good deal beginning in the second half of the last century. Glee club music will typically include a wide array of songs - Broadway, sacred, folk, standards, as well as more traditional choral music that’s been around for a long time.
After a lapse of some years, composers and arrangers have again begun to pay more attention to four-part male harmony. The Down Town Glee Club, having survived thus far in its long fight for survival, is now enjoying a modest resurgence and is attracting new singers and a broader audience for the first time in years.
Grant Mech holds degrees from Westminster Choir College, where he studied with Margaret Cusack. An alumnus of Opera New Jersey’s young artist program, Grant has appeared in numerous operatic productions, including Alcina (Melisso) with The Cantanti Project, La Clemenza di Tito (Publio) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Bartolo) with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, the title role in Don Giovanni with Delaware Valley Opera, Turandot (Mandarin) with New Rochelle Opera, La Serva Padrona (Uberto) and The Pirates of Penzance (Police Sergeant) with Boheme Opera NJ, and La Belle Hélène (Agamemnon) with Opéra du Périgord in France, and La Cambiale di matrimonio (Tobias Mill) with Garden State Opera.
He has appeared in concerts and recitals, singing works such as Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Schubert’s Schwanengesang. He has appeared in concerts with the early music ensemble La Fiocco from Bucks County Pennsylvania. Grant is the director of music at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in New York and the choral director at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Mount Holly, NJ.
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The Down Town Glee Club
P.O. Box 1494
Bowling Green Station
New York, NY 10274