Ringing Far and Near: Student Music and Song at the College of William and Mary

October 1, 2008 to February 9, 2009


Digital Companions to the Exhibit

Digital companions to the exhibit are available online and on Swem Library's iPods. Swem Library's iPods are available for check-out from Circulation on the first floor of the library. The companion tour is available from the SCRC on YouTube, and Flickr. Images of some of the William and Mary Choir material being installed for the exhibit are available from the SCRC on Flickr. A few photographs used in the exhibit and audio from the Choir were used to make a brief online video during the exhibit's preparation.

Homecoming Events at Swem Library on Friday, October 24

Stop by Swem Library Homecoming weekend for a tour, an exhibit, visit your old study carrel, or enjoy some Ben & Jerry's ice cream! In conjunction with the exhibit there will be live music from The Wham Bam Big Band from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at Swem Library. Ben & Jerry's ice cream will be available at the same location and refreshments will also be available in the SCRC. Check out the event on Facebook or see the complete list of Homecoming events at the Alumni Association's website

Open House and Exhibit Opening on Tuesday, October 7, 3-5 p.m.

Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center held an open house and exhibition opening in celebration of October as Archives Month on October 7, 2008. The open house included live music with performances by a cappella groups Reveille and The Accidentals, highlights of new collections in the SCRC, and of course refreshments. For additional information about the Open House, contact SCRC Director Bea Hardy (757-221-3054). You can also check out the event on Facebook. Update: Photographs and a brief video from the event are available from the SCRC on Flickr.

About the Exhibit

Swem Library at the College of William and Mary presented the exhibit, “Ringing Far and Near: Student Music and Song at the College of William and Mary.”  Using programs, posters, photographs, uniforms and clothing, artifacts, audio recordings, publications, and other materials from Swem’s Special Collections Research Center, the exhibit provided a general overview of music at the College of William and Mary, with a major emphasis on student groups. 

The exhibit began with an introduction to music at the College through early student groups and the establishment of academic music instruction in the early 20th century in an exhibit case near the front door of Swem Library. Among items on display were photographs of glee clubs and the music clubs. The establishment of the Department of Fine Arts in 1918, which included courses in musicianship and musical theory among its offerings, and the growth in music as an academic discipline Department of Music in 1952 were recalled through course catalogs and class schedules.

The exhibit continued in Swem Library’s Nancy Marshall Gallery with sections exploring a variety of formal and informal student groups and ensembles. The College’s former Department of Music sponsored Marching Band was recalled through photographs from half-time shows and parades. The highlight of this portion of the exhibit was undoubtedly the uniforms of the marching and pep bands on display. The exhibit also included photographs and diagrams for the “scramble band” field shows of the College’s current Pep Band, which is an entirely student-run organization.

The next section explored student-run vocal groups including choirs and the variety of a cappella groups currently singing their way across campus. Photos and a scrapbook showed students performing formally and more casually at the College, while posters testified to the variety of performances produced each year. The longevity of one of the oldest a cappella groups at the College, The Gentlemen of the College, was illuminated through a t-shirt from one of its alumni reunions as well as the group’s many albums and other material. 

The fourth section demonstrated the way in which ensembles and bands allowed students to explore musicianship in a variety of genres and traditions. Some ensembles, such as the Wind Symphony and William and Mary Symphony Orchestra have long histories at the College of William and Mary going back to the early 20th century while others such as the William and Mary Early Music Ensemble and Middle Eastern Music Ensemble are relatively young ensembles founded in 1994. The case included instruments used by the Early Music Ensemble and Middle Eastern Music Ensemble as well as photographs, programs, and posters from a variety of other ensembles.

The next section focused on the always changing world of bands formed by students at the College from rock to folk to swing and everything in between. Most student bands pass through the College without leaving behind a great deal of information about their members or music. This case included some of the few photographs in the collection of student bands from the late 1980s. Radio station WCWM’s role in the musical life of campus was demonstrated through publications and stations logs kept by DJs. CDs, posters, instruments, and clothing served to highlight just a few of the bands more recently performing on campus.

The exhibit concluded in the Special Collections Research Center showcasing the William and Mary Choir with particular attention to the tenure of long-time director Dr. Carl “Pappy” Fehr whose papers are held by the library. Dr. Fehr’s tenure as a professor and director of the choral program from 1945 through 1974 who set high standards for organization and rigid discipline was documented in a model used to demonstrate choral groups, correspondence, and other items. The fellowship and appreciation of Choir and Chorus alumni can be seen in some of the retirement gifts bestowed on Dr. Fehr including a quilt made by his students and a portion of his office door that was given to him. The varied performances and travels of the Choir in the 1980s and 1990s were also on display in photographs and scrapbooks.

Curators: Amy Schindler, University Archivist, and Maria Booth, Summer 2008 Presson Fellow; Exhibit design and installation: Chandi Singer, Burger Archives Assistant; Graphics: Karen McCluney, Swem Graphic Artist.