Sigma Zeta has traditionally been a singing chapter. In fact, when the house at 1601 Washtenaw was built in 1926 the room now known as the George W. Spasyk Chapter Room was called the Music Room and in one corner was a baby grand piano. Following World War II, the piano was to be found in the “Big Living Room” at the north end of the first floor.
For decades thereafter, members would frequently be seen gathered around the piano before and after dinner running through their extensive repertoire of songs, which included just about all of the ΛΧ and Michigan songs ever written, most sorority sweetheart songs, many other fraternity songs (or parodies thereof), all of the Big Ten and Notre Dame fight songs (and dirty parodies thereof), and a host of party songs, some appropriate in mixed company, most appropriate only for stag parties.
One of the highlights of the year was the fierce competition among fraternities known as IFC Sing, held every spring. Tryouts were held during the year and the finalists, about ten fraternities, competed in Hill Auditorium before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 4,000. For most of his long tenure as Director of the Michigan Men’s Glee Club, Dr. Phillip Duey served as the Master of Ceremonies, and his voice is heard announcing most of the performances presented here.
Sigma’s finest period of singing supremacy occurred during the mid-50s to early 60s, when over a span of six years, we placed third, second, and an unprecedented run of four first place finishes! This didn’t “just happen.” It took weeks of rehearsals, each voice part perfecting its part before all four were brought together in 4-part harmony. The beauty of it all was that very few of the brothers could read music—it was all done by memorizing the parts. Even those who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket wanted to be on stage to represent ΛΧΑ. They were put in the back row and silently mouthed the words, but their very presence and enthusiasm inspired the singers, perhaps to a higher level of performance. At the conclusion of the 1962 performance (“Student Prince Medley”), Dr. Duey told this writer that the Sigma chorus could give his Glee Club a run for its money.
Each IFC Sing performance was recorded by a professional firm in Ann Arbor, using the latest state-of-the-art equipment and technology available at the time. These recordings were made available to the groups in the form of 33⅓ rpm 10-inch vinyl records. The five performances presented here were combined on a single record and given out as a souvenir at our 50th anniversary banquet in 1963. Later, when “tape” replaced “record”, cassette tapes of these performances were given out as souvenirs at our 75th anniversary banquet in 1988.