* * * * * * *


       Yesterday I posted an article calling attention to the frequent cutting off of commercials on my favorite news channel, MSNBC. Their sponsors are getting short-changed!
       Now I have a beef on the other side of the coin. I resent the amount of time devoted to commercials! MSNBC is no worse than any other channel or station in this regard. I remember when half-hour programs were limited to three and a half minutes of commercial time. Those were the days! How different it is now!
        Way back in 1951 the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) adopted a code of practices for television broadcasters. It prescribed not only the amount time that should be devoted to commercials but also a set of ethical standards prohibiting such things as the use of inappropriate sex, profanity, and the disparagement of God and religion. Television broadcasters indicated their compliance with the Code by displaying a "Seal of Good Practice" in the closing credits.
       In 1979 the Justice Department brought suit against the NAB to discontinue the code on the grounds that “the NAB had violated Section 1 of the Sherman (Anti-Trust)Act by combining and conspiring to restrain trade. Specifically . . . the NAB had promulgated and enforced a television code, certain provisions of which restricted the quantity, placement, and format of television advertisements” (47 Fed. Reg. 32813, 29 July 1982). The suit led to the eventual dropping of the code by the NAB in 1983.
        The abolition of the code has in turn led to the increase of commercial time to 30% or more of the total, along with a proliferation of violence, sex, and obscene language that are of concern to many viewers. Their complaints are countered by First Amendment advocates, who are quick to attack anything that restricts freedom of speech, or smacks of censorship. But that’s another issue. My concern here is the high percentage of time now consumed by commercials, not to mention the growing practice of embedding sponsors’ products in the program itself.
        I don’t know how many people are as disturbed as I am about this, but if enough viewers complained about it, maybe the broadcasters would feel the pressure and cut back a bit. Or is that just wishful thinking?

* * * * * * *


       My channel of choice for watching the daily news and commentary is MSNBC. I wonder how many of their viewers have noticed, as I have, that many of their commercials are cut of before they finish. This is not an isolated occurrence. It happens frequently.
        When I saw first saw it happen many weeks ago, I thought it was a mistake that could and would be quickly corrected. I can understand how such a mistake could occur once in a great while. But when it kept happening day after day and week after week, I became more and more concerned and frankly annoyed. Not that I love watching TV commercials, but I was offended by what was at best sloppy programming and at worst deliberate  malpractice on somebody’s part.
"Chicken parm you taste so good!"
        One commercial I do enjoy watching is the one in which Payton Manning is singing his own words in various settings to the Nationwide Insurance Company’s theme song. At the very end he sits down to watch television and you hear the familiar voice of their young woman singing “Nationwide is on your side!,” after which Payton  hums the tune one more time.
        As a former advertising executive who used to produce commercials, I would give the Nationwide commercial a very high rating. In a low-key but interesting way it very effectively fixes the insurance company’s theme song/slogan in the viewer’s memory. Though the sponsor’s name is mentioned only once, the end result makes for excellent product identification. So the first time it was cut off before I heard the woman sing the Nationwide theme song followed by Payton’s humming the tune again at the end, I thought to myself, “Nationwide should get its money back!”
       The sponsors to whom this is happening have a legitimate beef . They are getting short changed. At first I thought that whoever monitors the programs would notice what was happening and put a stop to it immediately. When it kept happening day after day and week after week, I decided I should call it to my readers’ attention to see if anyone else has noticed.
        I’m hoping MSNBC will get my tweet about this. Maybe if enough people bring it to their attention, they’ll do something about it!

* * * * * * *


L to R: ABS Music Director Emeritus James Litton, 
Francois Girard, Dtin Hoffman, and Fernando Malvar-Riz.
       The world-renowned American Boychoir is featured in a new movie entitled Boychoir, directed by Francois Girard (The Red Violin) and starring Dustin Hoffman, Debra Winger, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, and a new young man, Garrett Wareing, who may be destined for stardom.
       The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 5 and received some rave reviews, including this one from Roger Friedman's "Showbiz."
        Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Music Director of the American Boychoir, was engaged to be the Music Director of the film, and coached Dustin Hoffman, who plays the role of the Music Director, in the art of conducting.
        With a star-studded cast, a heart-warming story, and exquisite music throughout, and judging from the reaction to its premier, Boychoir could well turn out to be a very popular film. It is due to be released sometime next spring.
        I can't wait to see it!

* * * * * * *


Time for a musical interlude.

I've been an admirer of the Dutch conductor André Rieu since before he became popular in the United States. He is also an accomplished violinist, as you will see and hear, if you click on the above video. It is taken from a 2012 DVD entitled "André Rieu - New York Memories- Live at Radio City Music Hall."

Even if you have seen it before, it's worth watching again. If you haven't seen it, I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as the audience did that night. You will see that Maestro Rieu touched their hearts, as he does mine and will yours, with his beautiful rendition of I Did It My Way, a song made popular by Frank Sinatra, another one of our famous "Jersey Boys."

Enlarge your screen.

* * * * * * *


     If you haven't, it's worth watching. If you have, it's worth watching again. Click here to see Bob Hope (52) and James Cagney (56) tap dancing at the famous Friars Club in New York City in 1955. It's great fun ---and for me nostalgic--- to watch these two old pros doing their routines. Turn up the volume, enlarge your screen, and enjoy the show!  

* * * * * * *

I enjoy watching flash mobs. Have you seen this one? Click here, turn up the volume, and enlarge 
your screen.

* * * * * * *


       I love this arrangement, and I think you will, too. It is sung by one of my favorite choruses, the Masters of Harmony, then under the direction of Jeff Oxley, who also sings the solo. It was their acceptance song, after winning the 1999 International Barbershop Chorus Championship. Click here, then turn up the volume, enlarge your screen, and sit back and enjoy an inspiring rendition of "This Is the Moment!"

* * * * * * *

"TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME" Sung by the American Boychoir

       In case you were not able to open the video in my previous post of the American Boychoir singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, try clicking on the song title below.
        As I explained in the earlier post, the boys had just learned this song and were singing it publicly for the first time. Tour Proctor Matt Caruso had written the creative arrangement just the day before!
        You will see boys raising their hands throughout the song. They were invited to do so by Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, whenever their favorite Major League team was mentioned.      Listen carefully and you may hear your favorite team, as well!
        Click here: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

* * * * * * *


        This weekend the world renowned American Boychoir is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. Established in Columbus, Ohio, in 1937 by Founding Director Herbert Hoffman, the Columbus Boychoir moved to Princeton, New Jersey, in 1950, where until the current school year it was located at Albemarle, the former Lambert family estate. It is now located on the expansive campus of the Princeton Center for the Arts and Education (PCAE), with two other schools as its sub-tenants.
        In 1980 under the enterprising leadership of  Board Chairman Herbert W. Hobler, who got a green light from the American Choral Directors Association, the name of  the school was officially changed to the American Boychoir School, which remains the nation’s only non-sectarian boarding school. The American Boychoir is America’s most widely touring and frequently performing choral ensemble.
        On their recent Spring tour they were the over-night guests of the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown, New York, where my daughter the Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes is pastor. With the help of Elsie's sister and brother-in-law Ellen and Mike Kanarek, who drove up from Princeton, New Jersey, for the event, some of the members of the church and other Cooperstown residents, were able to feed and billet the boys and their accompanying adults, and I was able to help arrange for them to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
        In return for the gracious welcome and hospitality they received at the famous baseball shrine, the boys sang a special arrangement of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which was written “on the road” by Tour Proctor Matt Caruso for the occasion and learned the day before by the boys. They sang in the actual Hall of Fame, sacred space to baseball fans, surrounded by the plaques of the legends of the game. They also sang their wonderful rendition of the National Anthem.
        The folks at the Hall of Fame were so impressed that they want to put the song on their web site. Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz is going to send them a more polished version of the song, but this was amazingly good for their having had practically no time to rehearse it beforehand. It was recorded on an I-Phone.
        Matt Caruso has written a really clever arrangement of what is surely one of America’s most familiar songs, with some of the boys singing the names of  Major League teams in sync and harmony with the melody. You will see boys raising their hands throughout the song. They were invited by their director to do so whenever they heard the name of their favorite team mentioned.
        The Boychoir also performed a mini-concert in the church sanctuary that evening for their delighted billet and dinner hosts, who were tremendously impressed.  
        To see the American Boychoir in the Baseball Hall of Fame, click on picture. They had arrived in their tour bus just a few minutes before and had been welcomed by one of the executives. To hear their first rendition ever of  “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” click on song.

* * * * * * *


        As I explained in a previous post, two of our fellow Nassoons, because of other obligations, did not feel they could participate in the Triangle Show. They would be sorely missed, but their absence did not dampen the enthusiasm of the remaining ten of us It was not that we didn't have other demands on our time as well. Everyone of us was heavily involved in other extracurricular activities. A few of us, of whom I was one, were also facing the daunting requirement of a senior thesis.
        But being in the Triangle Show was an experience we all felt we could not afford to miss. There would be many rewards, including our being inducted into the historic Triangle Club. So it was full speed ahead for "Clear the Track!" Learning the songs, rehearsing with the cast, the dress rehearsal ---it all went so fast. Opening night was upon us sooner than we ever could have imagined, when we first agreed to take part, and before we knew it winter break was over and we were on campus again, looking back on the tour and sharing stories with our friends.

The Princeton Nassoons in  the 1946-47 Triangle Show "Clear the Track!" - L to R: Bill Rogers '48,
Jack Pemberton '48, Jim Buck '46, Ed Knetzger '46,  Jeff Penfield '49, Og Tanner '48, Al Burr '49,
Don Elberfeld '47, Dick Armstrong' 46, Don Finnie '47

        “CLEAR THE TRACK A SMASHING SUCCESS IN SEVEN CITY TOUR” read the headline in the January 6, 1947, issue of  The Daily Princetonian.
        Indeed it was, and there were reasons for that. It was the Triangle Club’s first show since the 1942-43 production “Time and Again,” after which the University had shut down the Club’s activities for the duration of World War II. Triangle fans, especially Princeton alums, were eagerly awaiting the return of the popular student musical. In every city they greeted each actor’s arrival on stage with vigorous applause.
        But their warm reception was not gratuitous. The show had lots of humor, great music, and an incredibly talented cast. It also had a nostalgia-evoking story line, centering on the romance of a Princeton man and the sister of a Yale man. The Triangle show, like our student body, was all male in those days, and the producers of  “Clear the Track” made sure to include the perennial audience pleaser, the high-kicking and much too brawny  “girls” chorus line. Well, fairly high kicking!
        It all added up to make “Clear the Track” a sure-fire hit. Those with triskaidekaphobia might have been a bit anxious that we were scheduled to open on the night of Friday the thirteenth of  December. Their fears were ill-founded, however, as McCarter Theater was packed out and the audience’s reception was everything we could have hoped for and more.
        The response prompted this headline in the Princetonian the following Monday: CAPACITY CROWD SEES TRIANGLE SHOW BURST INTO SMASH HIT. In his very favorable review R. Case Morgan ‘49 predicted that “Clear the Track” would be hit on the road as well. He was right.
        Over the years some of the Triangle show tunes have become widely popular, a notable example being “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon),” written by Brooks Bowman ’36 for the 1934 production, “Stags at Bay.” I really thought two or three of the songs from “Clear the Track” could become hits with the wider public, including “I Want to Go on a Picnic,” a beautiful song written by my classmate John MacFayden. John also wrote “As I Remember You,” which was introduced  by the Nassoons in the 1942-43 Triangle show, “Time and Again.”
        Another great song from “Clear the Track!” was “You Gotta Have Me!” Don Finnie did a great arrangement of it, which we included in the album we recorded in March of 1947. One of my personal “Clear the Track!”favorites because of its unique chord changes, was “You’re More Like an Angel,” by Mark Lawrence ’42.
        “You Gotta Have Me” was written for the character Gil de Lilly, played masterfully by Don Durgin ‘46.  The Nassoons teamed with Don on that song, which we had introduced when we made our debut in Alexander Hall.
        The Nassoons sang the title song, “Clear the Track,” in the spectacular opening scene, and occasionally we were doing some choreography in the background, while others were performing. In one scene we were wearing white sweaters with a big orange “P” on the back, as we faced away from the audience. When the setting shifted to the New Haven campus, we turned and faced the surprised audience sporting a big blue "Y" on the front of our sweaters and proceeded to sing the widely familiar Whiffenpoofs song!
        Our expressions showed that we were really putting our hearts into it, as we sang a straight-forward, traditional arrangement —until the very end of the chorus, when we suddenly soared into some really wild chords to end the song “Nassoon style”! The audience went wild —all except the Yale alums, who were shocked by the liberty we had taken with their beloved song. I’m sure the reverberations reached all the way to “the tables down at Mory’s”!
        On a personal note, I must say that our seven-city tour was not quite as much fun for me as I had originally thought it would be, simply because I had fallen in love with a Wellesley lass named Margaret Childs. I loved the performances, but the rest of the time I was thinking about Margie. Oh, the parties were fun, but for me not because of the abundance of good-looking girls. The fun was in the informal singing in which we were constantly engaged. Rub any four Nassoons together and you’ll get a song every time!
        One of my indelible recollections is of a time when the cast was being entertained before the performance in Cleveland, Ohio. There was a Steinway grand piano in the room, and the show’s Music Director, Dave Betts ‘45, who was one of the best improvisational piano players I’ve ever known, was displaying his amazing talents at the keyboard. A number of admiring listeners had gathered around, as Dave drifted into “East of the Sun.” Two or three of us Nassoons started singing along, and very quickly, one by one the rest of the Nassoons pushed through the crowd and joined us.
        That had to be one of the best renditions of Jim Lotspeich’s wonderful arrangement of that song ever sung, and it was Dave Betz’s fabulous accompaniment that made it so. He made the piano sound like a one-man orchestra! The ten of us Nassoons never sounded better. I get goose pimples just thinking about it. We went through the song twice, and at the end everybody cheered.
        I have another not so pleasant memory of getting sick and having to miss the performance in Philadelphia. So there were only nine Nassoons on stage for the show that night, and I later learned that some of my friends in the audience who were trying to identify me were thoroughly confused. I went home to spend Christmas with my parents in Baltimore and was able to rejoin the cast for the performance in my home town, following our two-day break.
        After a great cast party to celebrate our triumphal tour, we all had a lot of catching up to do back on campus. We were scheduled to do one more show at McCarter Theater during Alumni Reunions, but that seemed a long way off, and we Nassoons had a busy performance schedule of our own lined up, and an album to produce and market as well. Steve Kurtz and Jack Taylor were back with us again, and we elected two new members that spring, basso profundo Dave Romig, and IB/2T Herb Spencer, who later rendered an incredible service to the Nassoons by putting together the treasured "Black Book," a collection of 210 favorite Nassoon arrangements spanning roughly the first two decades of the Nassoons' existence.
        The spring semester of 1947 was a hectic one for me, as I was deluged with my duties as Business Manager, while working on my senior thesis ("The Unionization of Baseball"), playing on the varsity baseball team, and trying to keep up with my academic program, Cottage Club activities, and personal correspondence.
        Nassoon rehearsals and functions claimed their share of my time, but they never added to the pressure. Rather they were always a relief from it.

* * * * * * *


       If this part of the Princeton Nassoons’ history is ever to be told, I realize that I’m the one who will have to tell it, as there are only two other living  members of the original twelve post-WWII Nassoons. I have spoken with my two fellow surviving ‘Soons, Jack Taylor ‘45 and Jack Pemberton ‘48, and while neither of them recalls too many details of that first year (1946-47), they do recall our having to face a major decision early that fall.
        We were proud of the fact that several of our members also had been or were currently in the Princeton Glee Club, including two stellar first tenors, Jack Pemberton and Steve Kurtz, who was President of the Glee Club that year. It was a tacit assumption that we would resume our affiliation with the Glee Club, and perform as a special added attraction at their concerts at home and on the road. This, of course, would work out well for those who were also in the Glee Club. We were already lined up to make our public debut at their joint concert with the Dartmouth Glee Club on November 22.

        We had hardly begun practicing, however, when we were invited to become the featured singing group in the Triangle Club’s first post-WWII production, “Clear the Track!” Having been involved in conversations with some good friends who were producing what sounded like a very exciting musical, with a great story-line and some wonderful songs, our Music Director Don Finnie and I were all for accepting the invitation, hoping our fellow Nassoons would agree. We realized, of course, that it would be a particularly tough decision for our Glee Club members, especially for Steve Kurtz, given his responsibilities with the Glee Club.
        So we faced a really touch choice between the Glee Club and the Triangle Show. There were strong feelings on both sides, and our newly organized singing group, which had gelled so nicely, was in danger of becoming divided over the issue. At the request of Steve Kurtz President Og Tanner called an “emergency” meeting to decide what to do. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be at that meeting, and I was most distressed when I was informed that the group had decided to go with the Glee Club.
        As Business Manager I felt there were important advantages to our joining the Triangle Club, but apparently no one had made the case sufficiently to persuade the entire group. While they recognized the opportunity presented by the Triangle Club, they were reluctant to sever ties with the Glee Club, especially after an impassioned plea by Steve Kurtz. Preparing for “Clear the Track” would demand extra rehearsal time and our availability to go on tour during the winter break. That would conflict with the Glee Club’s schedule. For those in the Glee Club, it was an either/or choice. There was no way they could do both. Steve ended his plea by telling the group he would have to drop out of the Nassoons, if they went with the Triangle show. That was the clincher.
        It was predictable which way the group would go. No one wanted to lose Steve or any of the other Glee Clubbers in our group, so they voted, a few somewhat reluctantly but unanimously, to go with the Glee Club. I pleaded with Og Tanner to call another special meeting and give me a chance to be heard. As Business Manager, I felt I deserved that opportunity, and Og agreed, though he warned me that the group had already made up its mind.
        Remembering how difficult it is to make a case in an open discussion, when everyone is interrupting and continually diverting the train of thought, I decided to write out my presentation. When you’re reading something, people usually are courteous enough to let you finish. That proved to be the case, as I presented all the reasons for our going with the Triangle Club. I wish I still had that hand-written speech, but I have no idea where it is. It could be somewhere in whatever files have been saved from that first year.  
        Be that as it may, I can remember the gist of my presentation. Everyone knew why I couldn’t attend the first meeting, and I began by thanking them for the opportunity to present my case and expressing my regret that Steve Kurtz, for a similar reason coincidentally, could not make this meeting. I acknowledged the difficulty of the choice with which they were faced and expressed my appreciation for their sensitivity to the conflicting obligations imposed upon Steve and the other Nassoon Glee Clubbers. I acknowledged the traditional relationship we had with the Glee Club and the enjoyment that the Nassoons had derived from that relationship.
        Then I proceeded to make the case for being in the Triangle show. The featured billing and the broad public exposure on tour would be tremendous assets in establishing ourselves as a separate and legitimate entity on campus. I and others had been working hard to obtain a charter from the University. I argued that going with the Glee Club was a step backward from becoming an independent organization. Before they were the Nassoons the original group had been a Glee Club octet. Such a relationship was quite different from being the featured singing group in a Triangle show.*
        I also appealed to their sense of obligation to those original Nassoons, who had selected us to carry on the tradition they had started, as the first close harmony, men’s a cappella singing group on campus. They had hoped we would be able to establish the Nassoons as a chartered organization. I acknowledged again the difficulty of their choice, but appealed to the Glee Clubbers to consider their relative value to the two organizations. The loss of three or four members would be much more devastating to the Nassoons than to the Glee Club. It would be hard enough to lose Steve, let alone anyone else.
        I didn’t have to tell them how much fun it would be to go on tour with the Triangle show. We had heard about the fabulous parties in the different cities —as one Triangle show veteran put it, "ten days of wine, women, and song!" I was appealing rather to their higher instincts! I urged them to rescind their previous decision and vote again. When I had finished speaking the group was quiet. I didn’t know what to think. Then someone broke the silence with words to this effect: “This puts a whole new light on the subject. I think we should rethink our decision.” Og Tanner, who ran our business meetings informally, invited comments.
       After some discussion someone said, “I think we should go with the Triangle show.”  Og said,”How do the rest of you feel?”  Everyone one agreed. They had done a complete turn around, and it was unanimous! There were eleven of us present. Only Steve Kurtz was missing. Someone asked, “Who’s gonna tell Steve?”
       “That’s my job,” responded Og immediately, “but I think you all should speak with him, when you get a chance, especially those of you in the Glee Club.”
        In my recent telephone conversation with Jack Pemberton he remembered having resigned from the Glee Club. Jack Taylor, though he had supported the decision to go with the Triangle show, recalled that he was under some pressure academically and felt that he could not afford the time to go on tour with the Triangle show.
       So we had lost a second bass soloist and a star tenor, but there would be ten Nassoons singing in the Triangle show, and the remaining voices were distributed evenly enough to get the blend we needed. Steve Kurtz was very gracious about our decision, and he and I had a chance to rehash the whole process together. Steve bore me no hard feelings for having persuaded the group to reverse their previous decision, and I certainly understood why he had to remain with the Glee Club of which he had been elected President. One especially good thing that came out of our conversation was Steve’s promise to return to the Nassoons after our winter tour.
        So now the way was clear for “Clear the Track!” Everyone was thrilled with the songs we would be singing and the part we would be playing in what we were sure would be one of most popular Triangle shows ever.
        I’ll share the reasons why, as I continue the story in my next post.

*   It should be noted, amazingly , that one of our most helpful allies in that effort was Assoc. Music Prof. J. Merrill Knapp, who happened to be Director of the Glee Club! A member of the Yale Whiffenpoofs in his undergraduate days, Prof. Knapp had helped the original Glee Club octet get started, and he had a special place in his heart for the Nassoons. As I remember, he was also a member of the University's committee responsible for granting charters to non-athletic organizations on campus.      

* * * * * * *

HOW WE GOT STARTED:, The Early Days of the 1946-47 Nassoons

        My article on the 1946-47 Princeton Nassoons attracted such interest that I decided to tell more of th
        I am sad to report that of the original twelve reconstituted Nassoons, only three of us are still living. Later in this article I have included links to obituaries for some of the deceased members.
        It has been hard to lose such good friends over the years, and each death has stirred wonderful memories of that first amazing year, when twelve men from several different classes, including mostly returning veterans, had to start from scratch and develop a repertoire in a few short weeks. 
       Along with our own new arrangements we wanted to include some of the favorite songs of the pre-WWII Nassoons, whose "modern" harmonization had distinguished them from other college men's a cappella groups like the Yale Whiffenpoofs, with their traditional four-part harmony. The accomplishment was all the more remarkable considering that we had never sung together as a group, and we had no members of the earlier Nassoons to serve as a nucleus to build upon.
        We practiced for an hour and half five days a week in a second floor room of the then First Presbyterian Church  (now Nassau Presbyterian Church), memorizing the words and music to a host of songs at once, and working hard to develop just the right blend. We would concentrate on singing to the focal point of our arc, melding our voices into one smooth sound on every chord. We would hold notes until we could feel the blend, nodding in delight to one another as we achieved just the right effect.With five-, six-, and even some seven-note chords each one of us had to be right on pitch!
        Our rehearsals were strictly private. We wanted no one to hear us until we were ready for our public debut. Some of our group had been chosen by a group of the original Nassoons, who returned I believe it was on Friday afternoon, May 17, 1946, to recruit a new group of Nassoons. I was still in the Navy at the time, having been made the Assistant Materiel Officer of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Philadelphia, after completing my duties as Supply Officer of the USS Chandeleur (AV10), which incidentally was the first ship to go into moth balls at the Philadelphia Naval Base.
        I had been back on campus a few times and had learned that the Nassoons were going to be holding tryouts. Knowing how important that was to me, my very obliging superior officer, Cdr. Frank Levy, gave me shore leave that afternoon, so I could be there for the tryouts. I took a train to Princeton Junction and caught the "Dinky" into Princeton in plenty of time. I was both pleased and somewhat intimidated by the large number of students who were there for the tryouts.
        Each of us was grilled by our Nassoon judges, who checked our pitch and range and interval accuracy, and then had us sing our appropriate part in a quartet with three of them. The song was "My Sweet," to which they had the sheet music for those who needed it. That song will always have a special place in my heart! You can imagine how thrilled I was at the end of the day to learn that I was one of the fortunate few to be chosen.
        The older Nassoons did not select a full complement that day, but charged the eight or nine of us who had been selected to hold tryouts at the beginning of the 1946 fall semester to round out our group. That we did, and again a surprising number of undergraduates showed up for the tryouts. I can't trust my memory as to who was selected at this time, but Jack Pemberton '48, a wonderful first tenor, told me that he was one of them.
        The other members of the "starting twelve" included first tenors Steve Kurtz '48 and Al Burr '49; second tenors Jim Buck '46, Og Tanner '48, and yours truly '46; first basses Don Finnie '47, Ed Knetzger '46, and Bill Rogers '48; and second basses Don Elberfeld '47, Jeff Pennfield '49, and Jack Taylor '45. 2B Dave Romig '48 and 2T/1B Herb Spencer joined us later in the year. Jack Pemberton, Jack Taylor, and I are the three surviving members of the original twelve, many of whom had accomplished amazing things in their lifetime. But that's another story.
        We also selected eight candidates, two for each part, as alternates. They were to be what we called a "feeder octet," who would practice our numbers and be available as needed. It was predictable that the feeder octet would enjoy singing together, so much so that they decided "Who needs the Nassoons?" So they formed their own group and called themselves "The Tigertones"! They continue to this day as another one of Princeton's premier singing groups and friendly rivals of the Nassoons. Of course, the Tigertones have long since chosen to ignore this part of their origin!
        There's still more I want to tell, but this is enough for now.

* * * * * * *


October, 1946, post WWII Nassoons make their debut in
Alexander Hall. Music Dir. Don Finnie gets the pitch for
the next song.
       If you read my earlier post and watched the video, you saw that Princeton University's premier men's a cappella singing group, the Nassoons, have made a most entertaining production of The Tigertown Blues, which has been one of their signature songs since it was introduced way back in the fall of 1946.
        While sticking with my original harmonization and basic arrangement, the Nassoons over the years have added some clever choreography and varied the original blues tempo. I was most impressed by the presentation of the current Nassoons, a
link to which was included in the previous post.
        For an interesting and I hope enjoyable contrast, you might like to hear the original version, as sung by the reorganized post-WWII Nassoons in the album they recorded in the spring of 1947. I don't know whether or not this is going to work, but I'm hoping if you click on The Tigertown Blues below you will be able to listen to the song, as it was sung sixty-six years ago! I first made a cassette tape from the old vinyl record, then last night was able to re-record that copy on to a disk, which in turn was copied into my storage cloud, Sugarsync.
        After listening again to the way I sounded doing the solo way back then, I wasn't sure I wanted to go public with this, but my wife Margie and sons Andy and Woody insisted, so here goes. Now let's hope it works! The link will take you to my storage cloud, Sugarsync, which will say "Richard S. has sent you a file." Right under that you will see "91 Track 1.wma." If you click on that, you should then be able to play The Tigertown Blues
        I hope you enjoy this brief musical relic from my college years. (If it doesn't work, we'll try something else.)

* * * * * * *


The Princeton Nassoons
        The Nassoons, Princeton University's oldest (and in my biased opinion best) men's a cappella singing group have a small part in the recently released movie "Admission," starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. They are singing one of their signature songs, The Tigertown Blues, in Blair Arch, when Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan, played by Fey, breaks through their ranks.
        In the movie you hear the Nassoons for only about twenty seconds. To listen to the same song in its entirety, click here, turn up the volume, and enlarge your screen. In this video they are singing at a recent performance at the Friends School in Moorestown, New Jersey. These young gentlemen of song and their predecessors of recent years have added lots of choreography to the arrangement, which makes it even more of an audience pleaser.
        The tempo and rhythm have varied over the years, but the words, melody, and harmonization are the same as when I wrote the song way back in 1946.
        Actually I had written the music and the arrangement two years earlier, while I was at the Naval Supply Corps School at Harvard, but I changed the words for the newly reorganized, post-WWII Nassoons. We introduced the song at our debut, as part of a joint Princeton and Dartmouth glee clubs concert in Princeton's Alexander the fall of 1946. The song was an immediate hit, even though I was chosen to sing the opening solo that first year. Later on it became a Nassoons' tradition for the current president to sing the solo.
        When I wrote the lyrics Princeton was an all-male college. After the University finally began admitting  women as undergraduates in 1969, I updated the words to reflect the fact that Princeton was now coeducational, but the Nassoons at that time decided they would stick with the original lyrics and treat The Tigertown Blues as a "period piece."
        It seemed to make no difference to their audiences, and the song has remained one of their perennial favorites with their admiring fans of all ages to this day. The original Nassoon arrangement is included in the Centennial Edition of the University's song book, Carmina Princetonia (G. Schirmer, Inc., 1968).
Still the Nassoons!
        Click on Princeton Nassoons for their home page. To see the above and lots of other photos, click photos   

* * * * * * *


Hello, friends!                                                                      

In the midst of all the terrible news we've been deluged with in recent days, here's something that
should make you feel good.

I'll be surprised if you don't love this video, which I've just seen this morning for the first time.

The world does have something in common ---dancing!

Share this with your friends.

* * * * * * *


        With all the disturbing news we have to listen to every day, including the outrageous responses of right-wing Republicans to President Obama's broad plan for reducing gun violence, it's easy to become quite bitter and cynical.
        In case you're feeling that way, here's something that's guaranteed to make you smile. I had forgotten all about this video, which I saw for the first time about twenty months ago. I enjoyed it so much I watched it over and over again.
        For some reason it came to mind today and I watched it again and enjoyed it just as much as ever. So I thought I should call attention to it on my blog for those whose spirits may need a momentary lift.
        Click on the following link, turn the volume up, and enlarge your screen: JA

* * * * * * *


        I live at Princeton Windrows, a community for independent seniors just outside of Princeton, New Jersey. Seven years ago I started a chorus, and we have been putting on a show for our staff and residents in mid-December every year. We call ourselves the Windrows Warblers. I write silly words to popular songs of the past and present, and we sing and dance and do some funny skits for everyone's enjoyment, but principally for the staff, who love to see us older folks make fools of ourselves.
        Last year for the first time I decided to do a rap incorporating the names of our entire staff, calling myself "The Rev," the granddaddy of all rappers. My disguise didn't fool anybody, of course, but the effect was hilarious. It went over so well that The Rev was pressed into making a return appearance this year. Our executive director decided to put it on YouTube, to show that life in a community like ours can be lots of fun, and we're not a bunch of old fogies, sad sacks, and stuffed shirts.
        So my secret career has been publicly disclosed! Don't worry, we're not about to take our show on the road!  But if you want to watch the oldest living rapper in action, here's the link to the YouTube video:

* * * * * * *


        Before discovering this newer video, I posted a link to a 2008 video, which I felt was still relevant and inspiring. It's still worth watching!
        In that post, which I have just cancelled. I suggested that as you listen to the stirring song from Les Miserables, imagine they were singing "one more term" instead of "one more day"! In this  newer version, featuring Broadway stars, they are doing just that, with contemporary lyrics and a powerful political message!
       The 2012 presidential election is just as important as the historic 2008 election, even more so, for it is a test of our American values. Truth itself is on the line. We can't let the dream die! There's too much at stake. We've come too far, accomplished too much.
        Click on this LINK, turn up the volume, click on your full screen, and be inspired!

* * * * * * *


        Do you remember the 2008 video? It's still relevant and inspiring!

        As you listen to this stirring song from Les Miserables, just imagine they are singing
"one more term" instead of "one more day"!

       The 2012 presidential election is just as important as the historic 2008 election, even
more so, for it is a test of our American values. Truth itself is on the line. We can't let the
dream die! There's too much at stake. We've come too far, accomplished too much.

        Click on this LINK, turn up your volume, and click on full screen.

* * * * * * *


If you like the big band sound, click on the link below. You'll be surprised by what you see and hear! Even if you've seen it before, it's worth watching and hearing again.

* * * * * * *


The Ambassadors of Harmony, a 160-member chorus from St. Charles, Missouri, won the International Barbershop Chorus Championship in 2009. All of the competing choruses were excellent, but if you watch this video, you'll know why the Ambassadors, under the direction of Dr. Jim Henry, took top honors this time with two spectacular arrangements by Dr. David Wright, this being one of them. Turn the sound up, click on the link below, then click on the full screen button at the bottom of the YouTube picture. Be sure to watch the entire video, because the ending is spectacular! 

No comments:

Post a Comment