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Public Affairs : Glee Club Graduation Concert

Glee Club bids farewell to its senior members 

Story and photos by Mike Strasser
Assistant Editor
WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 21, 2013) —The West Point Glee Club presented a Graduation Concert at Eisenhower Hall Theatre May 21 in support of Graduation Week activities and as a farewell to its eight senior members.

This was the final performance for Class of 2013 Cadets Kaitlyn Anderson, John Asbach, Nina Fiore, Joshua Pcsolyar, David Poole, Paul Rogers, Maighdlin Shea and Scott Silvester as they will receive their diplomas Saturday at Michie Stadium and take their commissioning oath as second lieutenants.

But before that, there were songs to be sung by the Glee Club and they performed such numbers as “Let the River Run,” and “Go Where I Send Thee!” with an Armed Forces medley for a finale. The Knight Caps, an all-male a cappella ensemble, also performed several songs and two new groups, RIF and The Knightingales, made their premiere concert appearances. The Glee Club is comprised of about 60 members representing each of the four classes in the Corps of Cadets. The club’s director is Constance Chase and Lt. Col. Bruce Floersheim is the officer-in-charge.

During the concert, the Lt. Frank A. Rybicki Award for Leadership was presented to the club’s commander, Cadet Maighdlin Shea, and the John McKillop Award for Musical Excellence was awarded to Class of 2014 Cadet Holland Gibson.

The Rybicki Award is named in honor of the Class of 1966 graduate who was the first in his class killed in Vietnam. Rybicki was a former Glee Club cadet commander and also a Rabble Rouser, Debate Club and Domestic Affairs Club member and in the Protestant Chapel Choir. The award is presented annually to the cadet who demonstrates outstanding leadership in the club.

In presenting her the award, Floersheim commended Shea for serving as the cadet-in-charge during a time of severe budget cuts that affected cadet clubs as it did many Army support organizations like the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels.

“Maddy has done an excellent job in keeping a positive attitude and helping the Glee Club adjust to a slightly new reality and looking for new opportunities for us to continue to serve the community, West Point and the Army,” Floersheim said.

First organized in 1903, the West Point Glee Club is a mixed chorus which serves as the academy’s musical ambassador and ranks among the nation’s most prestigious choirs. In the past academic year the club has performed in such events like the homecoming alumni exercises to the Army-Yankees exhibition baseball game.

It was announced at this concert that recently the Glee Club was informed of an opportunity to make a guest appearance on the “The Sing-Off,” an a cappella singing competition on NBC. Club members went to the broadcast studios in New York City last week to demonstrate their talents before the show’s executive producer and director for a chance to earn a non-competitive role in one of the episodes.

“It was a pretty big deal for us,” Holland told the audience. “It was the first time actually singing in front of mics and with camera everywhere. We had a really great time and I know The Knight Caps did a really good job. And if we did well, maybe you will see us on TV in September.” 

Holland, cadet-in-charge of The Knight Caps, said it was also the first time the group sat down together for an interview in front of a camera. 

"I think West Point is all about creating well-rounded officers with broad experiences and I can say that I have definitely gotten a lot out of being able to do something like this," Holland said. "Nowhere else would I have been able to work with Special Forces one summer, and the NSA, then the next, audition for a show on NBC."

Class of 2015 Cadet Danny Trainor thought he would have to give up performing when he came to West Point, but found that was hardly the case.

"In general, being a part of The Knight Caps has opened up so many amazing performance opportunities, but this one definitely tops them all," Trainor said.  "Even if we are not chosen to appear on the show, just being asked to audition is a huge accomplishment for the group."

The Knight Caps was organized in 2003, continuing a long tradition of Glee Club specialty groups like barbershop quartets and chamber ensembles. The group performs as a highlight of Glee Club concerts at significant occasions at West Point and throughout the United States.

Class of 2014 Cadet John Lee said they've had rough patches along the way but have grown strong as musical group.

"For every high-demand performance, we've  always pulled through and pulled off performances we could be proud of," Lee said. "We all love what we do, and doing that audition just brought us that much closer."

Gibson said the group is only able to practice a couple hours each week and Class of 2015 Cadet Sebastian Sakarapanee thought the preparation for this one audition did a lot to not only improve their musicianship but also deliver a confidence performance.

"...we also were able to interact with other groups whol held a high caliber of expertise," Sakarapanee said. "Now we have a goal with which to work toward in order to further improve our performances and capabilities."

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The West Point Glee Club assembled on the stage at Eisenhower Hall Theatre May 21 for a Graduation Concert, marking the final performance for its eight senior members.

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Class of 2013 Cadet Maighdlin Shea, the Glee Club's cadet in charge, was presented with the Lt. Frank A. Rybicki Award for Leadership during the Graduation Concert May 21 at Eisenhower Hall Theatre.

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The Knight Caps performed several numbers during the Graduation Concert May 21 and it was announced that they may make a guest appearance in next season's "The Sing-Off" on NBC.

The Knight Caps perform inside an NBC studio in hopes of making a guest appearance on "The Sing-Off."

Part of the audition process was a group interview in front of the camera. The Knight Caps described this as a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience they'll never forget. If all goes well, the a cappella group will make a guest appearance on "The Sing-Off" next season.