The Brotherhood Chorus: 50 years of Cheerful Service
William Congreve, wrote in The Mourning Bride, that "Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." Contrary to popular legend, it is not "to soothe the savage beast." Regardless of what it actually soothes, music is a universal language. There is not a human that anyone knows that can say that music in some form does not touch his life on a daily basis, or maybe even on an hourly basis during waking hours. The rhythm of tires humming in a drone as we drive to and from work, the radio we play as background 'noise' while we do homework, the songs we dance to, the drums playing during halftime at the local football game as the band marches out in formation, the almost unnoticeable background in the TV shows and movies we watch that are meant to heighten emotion or create tension. Our founder, Dr. E. Urner Goodman, knew the power of music. He was an accomplished musician, often playing the organ at early National Conferences to the delight of the participants, and taking time to create music with his family in what was surely not drudgery that some parents now face when they ask their children to take part in "family time."
In 1952, just 4 years after the first time Arrowmen descended on Indiana University for a National Conference, the Brotherhood Chorus was organized enough to have a patch created just for them. One would hazard a guess to say that music had been a part of the previous Conferences so much so that they decided to organize it. At that time, Men's Glee Clubs were a popular form of entertainment on college campuses across the country. They probably gathered together to sing some of the Glee Club favorites as well as the Foundation Song. It grew enough to warrant attention, attach a name to it, and the tradition of creating music at National Conferences was started. Robert Travis was 25 years old at the time. He didn't realize that there would be a Chorus at the time. He just stumbled onto it, by reading about it in the newsletter. He loves music, and many would have the pleasure of working with him at several Conferences in the past 10 years.
Some Arrowmen arriving at the National OA Conferences will also be surprised to discover that there is a Chorus in which they can participate. Over the past 10 years that Dr. Alan Eggleston has been directing the Chorus, we have grown from 45 to over 240 Brothers, male and female, young and old. Singing is such a natural part of our lives that some people come to the Conference just to sing.
When Dr. Eggleston, attended his first Conference in 1975, he was happy to find out there was a Chorus. He remembers there were around 100 Arrowmen, rehearsing every day, and singing at the closing show. They sang with the Band and with a portable piano. Their performance was a highlight of the week for all, and they were as proud as they could be singing in front of everyone. They ordered an embroidered neckerchief and a metal neckerchief slide, that came to them many months after the Conference. It was kind of like a Christmas present to get it, and they all wore it proudly at the next Conference.
Now, the National OA Committee rewards participants with an official neckerchief, and the Chorus members are awarded the neckerchief at the end of the week with a few carrots being dangled before them, such as being able to wear it once or twice during the week at special occasions. Since the chorus have grown so large, they often cannot award it to everyone, but only to those who fulfill requirements of rehearsing every day and singing several times during the week, including the final performance.
In 2000, the Chorus performed fourteen times during the 5 days at the VIA luncheons, the Distinguished Service Award reception, the opening of the museum, the Professional Scouters Dinner, the Section Officers and Advisers Dinner, the Founder's Day, and more. It is hoped that every Arrowman will see and hear the Chorus at least once during the Conference.
In 1977, the National OA Conference had a theme, "A Thing of the Spirit." And, every Arrowman who attends a Conference is certainly moved by the friendship, fellowship and fun, as are most people moved by music. Music is a thing of the spirit, and we invite every Arrowman who attends any National OA Conference to participate in the Brotherhood Chorus, even if for only one day.