College Songs

Like many American colleges and universities, Pomona’s college songs have a rich and somewhat controversial history. However, few institutions can boast what Pomona has long held: that the words and music of all of its most cherished and long-lasting songs were written by its own faculty or students.[1] For years, the college songs were regular fixtures at a wide range of College functions and were thus well-known and treasured by the student body. They were most commonly performed by Pomona’s Glee Clubs during the Ralph Lyman and William F. Russell eras (1917–48 and 1951–82 respectively), although the Pomona College Choir also performed some of the songs during Lyman’s tenure. When Jon Bailey arrived and combined the Glee Clubs in 1982, “The Picture,” “Loyalty,” and “Chivalry,” were retired in an effort to shift the focus of concerts away from the college songs. However, the Glee Club continued to sing “Hail Pomona, Hail!,” “Torchbearers,” “Primavera,” and “Over the Years.”[2] Upon inheriting the choral program in 1998, Donna M. Di Grazia renewed the practice of singing these songs during the Glee Club concerts on Reunion Weekend and on tour. In recent years, however, shifting concerns within the current Pomona community have caused the College to reconsider their appropriateness given the issues several of them raise.

— by Matthew Cook ’20 and Professor Donna M. Di Grazia
(January 2020)


Footnotes

[1] William F. Russell, “Pomona’s Original College Songs.” Presentation given at the Claremont Rotary Club, Claremont, CA, October 28, 1977. Music Department Archives: Russell files. We note that Professor Ramsay Harris was still at the University of Rochester when he initially wrote the music for what would become Pomona’s “Over the Years.” [back]

[2] Graydon Beeks, in conversation with Matthew Cook, Claremont, CA, December 12, 2019. [back]

 


Select Bibliography

Barrows, David P. The Ethno-Botany of the Coahuilla [sic] Indians of Southern California Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1900.

Mahar, William J., Behind the Burnt Cork Mask: Early Blackface Minstrelsy and Antebellum American Popular Culture. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Mooney, James. The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890. The Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Part 2, 1892–1893. Government Printing Office, 1896.

Olson, Carl, and William G. Blanchard, eds. The Songs We Sing at Pomona. 2nd edition. Claremont, CA: Associated Students of Pomona College, 1968.

Pomona College Music Department Archives.

Russell, William F. “Pomona’s Original College Songs.” Presentation given at the Claremont Rotary Club, Claremont, CA, October 28, 1977.

The Claremont Colleges Special Collections: Honnold/Mudd Library, Claremont, CA.

The Student Life. The Claremont Colleges Special Collections: Honnold/Mudd Library, Claremont, CA.

Waterman, T. T. The Religious Practices of the Diegueño Indians. Berkeley: The University Press, 1910.

Winston, Cyrus. “Uncovering a History of Performance at Pomona College.” c. 2008. https://cs.pomona.edu/~kim/CollegeSongs/discovery.htm