Chimes Continue Late Founder's Legacy
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013 21:01
Rip Sewell, a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher in the 1940s, threw a special pitch called the Ephus pitch. In the 1946 All-Star game, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox became the first player to ever hit the Ephus pitch for a home run.
“Whereas other groups were calling their leaders ‘pitch,’ [Jones], this quirky, funny, off-the-wall guy, said ‘Hey, your leader might be called the pitch, but I’m calling myself the Ephus,’” Alleva said. “Because he is the Ephus pitch — the bizarre version of the pitch, the wacky version of the group’s leader.”
Alleva said that the sentiment of the Ephus as a “leader among equals” is accurate.
“The Chimes all consider themselves equals as part of the Chimes brotherhood,” Alleva said. “Even though the Ephus is the musical director of the group, he, at the same time, is still an equal.”
Some of the more visible Chimes traditions include the annual Cherry Tree Massacre, an a cappella festival organized by the Chimes, and the monthly Chimes nights at The Tombs. The 40th Cherry Tree Massacre will begin Feb. 1.
“I really love Chimes nights at the Tombs,” Holl said. “I think it’s my favorite [tradition] because it is a way for all of campus to see what the Chimes is all about. They can really see how much we love each other, how much we care about each other, how much fun we’re having with each other.”
The Chimes has many traditions and a strong history and the group is constantly adding new traditions.
O’Brien said that he couldn’t think of any traditions that have been lost.
“I think the things that have been developed over the years have pretty much worked,” O’Brien said. “They are carefully thought out, and most of the things we create pretty much stay the same. I really don’t think there are any; I think that’s one of the secrets to the group.”
Fellowship and Harmony
Anyone who walked into 3611 Prospect St. at the beginning of a Chimes practice on a Tuesday or Thursday night would likely hear the song “We Meet.”
“We meet again tonight, boys, with mirth and song, and melody flows wherever we go. We dwell in friendship ever so true and strong,” the Chimes sing at the start of every practice.
The song reflects the sentiment of The Chimes’ motto, “Fellowship and Harmony.”
“You make your best friends in this group because it is so attuned to harmony in its essence,” Luckey said. “The more you sing, the more you build trust, the more you build harmony, and that builds true friendship. As Chimes, we are always there for our brother Chimes.”
The Chimes is clearly much more than just a singing organization, but it is the music that brings the group together.
“We’ll spend hours and hours and hours singing with each other,” Holl said. “It’s really a brotherhood formed through music. Music is the common bond that we all share, and it’s really an interesting relationship that you don’t find with people very often.”
This brotherhood is not only for active Chimes. Through the neophyte process and annual reunions, all generations of Chimes have the opportunity to meet each other. It is commonplace for young active members of the group to socialize with alumni who graduated decades before they even arrived on campus.
“The alumni presence is one thing that is really cool about this group, and I think is pretty distinct and pretty unique as a Georgetown group,” Lyons said. “For example, when we had auditions for new neophytes last week, we had two alumni stop in — one from the class of 2009 and one from the class of 1984 — both D.C. locals, and no one thought twice about [it]. They just stopped in, we sang a few songs, we caught up and then they left.”
The 1984 alum who stopped by was Peacock. In his capacity as president of the Chimes, Peacock organizes the reunions and non-musical aspects of the group. He also serves as a contact for active Chimes and alumni.
“[Lyons], who is ‘Baby Chime’ right now, probably knows 50 songs that he could sing with anyone going back to 1950, so I think that tie is very important,” Peacock said. “I think it keeps all of us younger and in touch with the school, and it keeps the current undergraduates rooted in the tradition, too.”
Peacock described the close network of Chimes as “Georgetown on steroids.” Even though it may no longer be an official Georgetown organization, the Chimes and its alumni are very involved with the Georgetown community and give a lot back to the university.
“We think of ourselves as a close-knit group, but we also very much think of ourselves as part of Georgetown and part of a Georgetown tradition as well,” Peacock said.
The alumni will reunite again Feb. 23 for the last night of Cherry Tree Massacre, and they will sing with active members, as per tradition.
Continuing Jones’ Legacy
“When Chimes was founded in the ’40s, it was the only a cappella group on campus. A cappella at universities is obviously much larger than it was in Frank Jones’ time at Georgetown,” Alleva said. “I think that bodes well, not just for The Chimes, but for a cappella as an institution. I think that the future is bright for The Chimes.”