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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Once a Singing Cadet, always a Singing Cadet

‘The Voice of Aggieland’ hosts 130th Anniversary Reunion Concert
Members+of+the+Singing+Cadets+practice+at+the+John+D.+White+70+-+Robert+L.+Walker+58+Music+Activities+Center+on+Tuesday%2C+April+2%2C+2024.+%28Kyle+Heise%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Kyle Heise
Members of the Singing Cadets practice at the John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)

“I saw the people gather / I heard the music start / The song that they were singing / Is ringing in my heart.”

Words from “No Man is an Island” and other classic songs will fill Rudder Auditorium as the famous Singing Cadets hosts its second-ever reunion concert this weekend. Almost 250 current and former members will take part in its flagship spring choir performance, celebrating the group’s lengthy history in Aggieland — and beyond.

The choir’s 130th Annual Reunion Concert starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. Reserved seating is available online for $10 per seat; however, current Texas A&M students can claim a free ticket with their student ID.

The nine-member glee club founded in 1893 now boasts 60 members in its ranks, and the “Voice of Aggieland” serves as one of the oldest student organizations on campus.

Eleven of the founding members of the Singing Cadets pose for a group photo in 1895. (Photo provided by the Singing Cadets.)

But even old-school organizations can create new traditions. After all, as they say in Aggieland, “Do it twice, and it’s tradition.”

While the group typically holds its flagship concert every spring, the Singing Cadets asked former members to join the group for a 125th-anniversary performance in 2019. The event was a major success, inspiring many former students to return for the next iteration. This year’s attendees will hear over 175 more voices onstage.

Former student Aaron Daniel, Class of 2019, currently serves as vice president of the Association of Former Singing Cadets Board. As a senior, Daniel performed in the first-ever reunion concert.

“It’s really about getting together with the groups of guys that you don’t know, singing the songs that we all remember from our time at A&M,” Daniel said. “Current students are learning about their experiences. I think that’s probably what folks look forward to the most.”

At a casual fall reunion during his freshman year, Daniel witnessed the camaraderie that sticks with alumni long after their time in the choir.

“You first experience that in the group, when you see folks come back and reminisce on good times and make an effort to maintain those strong bonds, relationships and friendships,” Daniel said. “Not only between members of the group and their contemporaries but also start new friendships between guys who may have been decades apart.”

Political science junior Mark Jonah Snyder currently serves as the group’s vice president and was elected as next year’s president. Originally from Pennsylvania, Snyder said the choir made him feel at home in an unfamiliar city.

“A big thing that Singing Cadets has done for me is kind of set my heart on fire for A&M, in a very metaphorical sense,” Snyder said. “Whether it’s the funeral of a former student, or on Muster Day, or just simply doing concerts all around the state, around the country, around the world, being able to represent what it means to be an Aggie to so many other people and being that first impression for people — this is what it means to be an Aggie.”

The group sings in venues all across Texas and the nation, and, occasionally, internationally. But even in settings thousands of miles away, the Singing Cadets still manage to find an Aggie in every city, as Snyder put it.

President George Bush, left, pats the shoulder of Singing Cadets Director David Kipp, center, at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Bush wears his varsity letters blazer he received as an honorary member of the Singing Cadets. (Photo provided by the Singing Cadets)

“We were in the city of Heraklion on the island of Crete, and our hosts were worried that we wouldn’t be able to bring in as much of a crowd as they promised,” Snyder said. “We were inside this theater. It was the middle of the day, and they’re like, ‘No one’s really gonna be here.’”

Seasoned choir director David Kipp noticed a bustling town center outside of the venue, and, undeterred, suggested the Cadets perform outdoors instead. Before long, tourists began stopping, pausing and listening to their music.

“It’s a really, really, really cool experience seeing these random American tourists pass by,” Snyder said. “There were a couple [of] Aggies by chance that happened to be there. They’re like, ‘Man, I’m in a foreign country, but that’s something that I recognize.’”

Public relations manager and communication junior Colby Brown said the Singing Cadets have paved their way as a campus tradition, and the group tours to spread the Aggie Spirit because their performances are highly sought-after.

“When we’re doing those performances, our main goal is to push this idea of what A&M can bring to a person’s life and how it can enrich them,” Brown said.

Brown said performing with the current members is a life-changing experience, but he’s excited to mingle with alumni onstage as well. He and other Singing Cadet officers hope to “enrich” members and alumni alike this weekend.

The 2023-2024 members of the Singing Cadets pose for a group photo on the steps of the Jack K. Williams Administration Building. (Photo provided by the Singing Cadets.)

Engineering freshman Lausen Ost spends his time coordinating activities for first-year members as a freshman representative; while not involved in planning the reunion concert, he’s been a part of every rehearsal and has been working together with current members to prepare.

“I think it will be a very enjoyable and unique time to perform with so many people like me, who enjoy music and voluntarily gave up their time — or for a lot of them, all four years of their college careers — just because they enjoy singing and love Texas A&M,” Ost said. “I can’t wait to perform this upcoming Saturday.”

For one day, alumni will be able to relive their time as a Singing Cadet. Daniel said experiencing the multi-generational camaraderie he first saw as a student means even more to him now that he’s on the other side.

“When I think about what all these years of history mean, I think it’s really about service to the university,” Daniel said. “It’s about the continued relationships that will always live on. I may not know all the guys that were around in the 1930s or 1920s, [but] the work that they did, and the work they put in for the university and for the group — it’s carried through to today, even 100 years later.”

The group has faced challenges in the past, but it’s still standing strong, Snyder said. The Singing Cadets feels tight-knit even after growing from its nine-person start to the multitude of members today, including choralists from all majors and backgrounds, as well as outside the Corp.

“I hope that we’ll make it another 130 years,” Snyder said. “I’m hoping I live long enough to see 200 years of the same cadets — even if I’m one of those old guys who’s onstage sitting in a wheelchair — that I can come back and there’s still this vibrant community of cadets who care very deeply about A&M and care about each other.”

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About the Contributors
Ana Renfroe
Ana Renfroe, Head News Editor
Ana Renfroe, Class of 2025, is a journalism junior with a minor in professional writing from Bryan, Texas. Ana has served as The Battalion's head news editor from May 2023 to May 2024. Previously, she was the assistant news editor for the spring 2023 semester. Ana has covered breaking news, politics, and more. She typically covered the Texas A&M System and university administration, Texas and Bryan-College Station politics, student government and more. Ana previously hosted and produced episodes of The Batt Signal, The Battalion's news podcast. Additionally, she was a copyeditor and feature writer for Maroon Life magazine, and helped contribute to the Aggieland Yearbook.
Amy Leigh Steward
Amy Leigh Steward, Assistant Life & Arts Editor
Amy Leigh Steward is a neuroscience student from Boerne, Texas. She joined the Life & Arts desk as a writer in Fall 2023 and has been the assistant Life & Arts editor since January 2024. Outside of The Battalion, she's involved in MSC Aggie Leaders of Tomorrow, TAMIN Building Researchers and Innovators in Neuroscience and Society, and the Society of Undergraduate Biology Students. After graduation, Amy plans to pursue an MD-PhD in neuroscience and go into research, academia and scientific communication.
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    Tony GiardinaApr 6, 2024 at 9:01 pm

    One of my two closest friends from my class of 1961 at Aggieland and over the many years since then, C. Barrett Monday, was a four year member of the Singing Cadets. In 2014 he joined the heavenly choir of angels, but oh how he would’ve loved to have been singing with the group in each of the two reunion concerts. Interestingly coincidence is that today’s reunion concert happens to be on his birthday. What a great birthday gift!

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