escalatum musicum

Sitting here listening to the CDs in the BOCA–Best of College A Cappella (shouldn’t it be BOCAC, though?)–Box set that just arrived today. I ordered it a few days ago after coming across a reference to some humorous a capella pieces and the resultant trip down memory lane to my own college glee club and a capella days (interestingly, right about the same time as Jeff’s entry about his college theatre group).

A quick search with Gr*kster this weekend even turned up a recording (which I already own on vinyl, so it’s not like I was stealing it) of the Franz Biebl Ave Maria from one of the concerts during my own Glee Club days. Ah, the Harvard Glee Club, that all-male chorus, seemingly at least 25 percent gay, that eased my coming out–publicly first announced at a college choral convention in New Orleans right after Mardi Gras–my freshman year. In fact, I had my first sexual experience with one of the graduate students in the chorus; the smell of Camels still can take me back to riding in his car one crisp autumn Cambridge night, inhaling the stale cigarette aroma permeating his sweater as I leaned against him while he drove us back to his place. Mmmmm.

In addition to the Glee Club my freshman and sophomore years, I sang with the mixed-sex Collegium Musicum my senior year, with a barbershop quartet throughout, and with a close harmony group. And a small group of us used to gather and sing in the North House stairwells, for the great acoustics; we jokingly called ourselves Escalatum Musicum (yes, I know that the Latin for stairwell really is scalae, but escalatum just had the right pidgin-Latin ring to it).

There are some great tracks on these CDs, including some fantastic and well-arranged renditions, among many others, of Madonna’s “Ray of Light,” Loreena McKennit’s “Mummer’s Dance” (who’d have thought you could do such a credible a capella job on a richly orchestrated piece like that?), ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” (the first 45 I bought as a teenager, along with Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”–how could my parents not have known I was gay?), and the song that always makes me cry, and which I played over and over when JJ and I broke up a dozen years ago, Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

I miss singing.