Sunday, October 28, 2007

W&M Weekend

This weekend we headed to Williamsburg for a little getaway, which happened to coincide with William & Mary’s homecoming. Although I’m an alum, we weren’t there to re-une with anyone, we just wanted to see our son play in the Wind Symphony and pep band (which also means catching a football game). So we headed down right after work on Friday, and got there just in time to go to the Wind Symphony concert. I think the term “wind symphony” sounds very elegant and classical and sophisticated. This weekend I discovered that it’s just a synonym for concert band, except that "concert band" sounds high schoolish, and "wind symphony" sounds college-y. While we were there, we also caught a few other performances, including a men’s a capella group, a women’s a capella group, and the William and Mary Choir (the big guns).

I've mentioned my opinion about unwarranted standing ovations before, and I was wondering how that would be handled at these college performances. Very cleverly, it turns out. Most W&M groups end their concerts with the Alma Mater, during which students and alumni are all supposed to stand. And of course everyone else in the audience, not wanting to feel left out, stands too (kind of like the National Anthem). Which leaves the whole room standing, and then clapping, at the end of the performance. Tricky, no?

A word about the William and Mary alma mater. In the four years in the mid-1970’s that I was at the school, I don’t remember ever singing the alma mater. I may not have even heard it played...if I did, I don’t remember. I certainly couldn’t have told you the words or hummed a few bars (my husband has the same recollection of the Duke alma mater, which is essentially none). Back in those days, we were all a bit anti-establishment, and college spirit seemed pretty low. Nowadays, things have certainly turned around, the college seems to be oozing with “Tribe Pride,” and they seem to play the alma mater at the drop of a hat. For the first two years that I visited the college as the parent of a student, I heard it many times, but could never remember much more than the line “hark upon the gale.” Please don’t ask me what that means. But this weekend, I sang it four times. So now I at least have the chorus (which is decidedly catchy) memorized. Listen to a snippet of it here.

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