Same old song

The Interfraternity Sing celebrates a harmonious century.

By Rachel Cromidas, ’11
Photography courtesy of University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center

Some groups work harder than others to be harmonious for the Interfraternity Sing, a competition celebrating its 100th anniversary in June during Alumni Weekend.

A grave and reverend senior,
                  I soothed my fevered brain
By dreaming of Commencement Day,
                  Pipes, ladies, and champagne!
And when in happy years to come
                  I sport my children three,
I’ll mark them each with a stencil plate,
                  One D! one K! one E!

It takes Greg Miarecki, AB’94, JD’97, only a moment to recall the final verse of his favorite fraternity song, “Son of a DKE.” It’s the subject of at least one inside joke between him and his fellow Delta Kappa Epsilon brothers (Having a baby? Time to take out the stencil.) from years of singing that last verse in Hutchinson Courtyard during the annual Interfraternity Sing.

The Panhellenic singing competition, which celebrates its 100th anniversary during Alumni Weekend in June, has been built on such traditions. In recent years Miarecki and the scores of alumni who return to campus for the open-air performance can be sure the Mitchell Tower bells will be rung, the sorority sisters will wear semimatching black dresses, and each of the dozen teams will vie for the distinction of winning the Best Overall Cup.

The event, Miarecki says, is awe-inspiring. “When you go into Hutch Court at night, everything’s lit up, there’s a stage, a spotlight. ... The ivy, the Gothic architecture—all mixed with the jovial nature of a singing competition.”

Bernie DelGiorno, AB’54, AB’55, MBA’55, has been serenading the UChicago community with his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, in the Sing since the 1950s. In a tradition still practiced today, the Greek organizations would begin the ceremony by marching in while singing their song “and line up on the stage in their singing arrangement,” says DelGiorno. “If, in fact, they had a singing arrangement.”

Phi Gamma Delta’s preparation, which begins in early spring, has become a point of lasting pride for DelGiorno: “We have tenors, leads, baritones, and basses. We sing in four-part harmony—others don’t seem to have any harmony.”

Fiona Malone, ’12, of Alpha Omicron Pi, has been digging through archives and rewriting pop songs for her sisters to harmonize, in honor of the sorority’s 25th anniversary on campus. “Everyone comes prepared,” Malone says.

Sounding good may be important, but the Sing is also noteworthy for uniting alumni, Miarecki says. At the height of its popularity in the early 1920s, the event drew more than 18,000 students and alumni representing 27 fraternities during the annual reunion, according to the Cap and Gown, the University’s yearbook at the time. Today the event can draw more than 1,000.

Sororities joined the Sing in the 1980s, and several years later they were competing with the fraternities for the event’s four awards: the Quality Cup, the Quantity Cup, the Spirit Cup, and the Best Overall Cup.

Around 1990 the event was moved to different locations and rescheduled to afternoon to eliminate occasional nighttime rowdiness. Miarecki, DelGiorno, and other Greeks formed a council that restored its evening setting in Hutchinson Court in 2000. “Those of us who had attended the Sing in the era when it was held at night strongly encouraged the young members of the council to restore it to the evening timeframe,” said Jessie Wang-Grimm, AB’90, another committee member. “When you are trying to bring back the old guard, you want to bring them back to the familiar.”


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