August 22, 2009
Contact: University Relations
Restarting a tradition that goes back decades, the University of Baltimore has brought back its official school song, the "UB Alma Mater," and is teaching it to the newly entering Class of 2013 as well as other undergraduate and graduate students.
The song—a handful of lyrics and sheet music discovered in its Langsdale Library archives by Robert Pool, now a reference librarian and faculty liaison in the UB School of Law Library—dates back at least to the 1950s. Pool first saw the sheet music when he worked in Langsdale's archives in the 1980s, and showed it to various UB officials including Thomas Hollowak, associate director of Special Collections for Langsdale. At the time, no one at UB could recall the song or when it was played, but to Pool and Hollowak it had the earmarks of an official song.
"We haven't been able to identify the author, but it could be based on an old church hymn," Pool said. "Some at UB can recall a UB pep song or fight song, but this is not that—this is a serious, orchestral sounding work. It's actually not bad as music, better than some other alma maters I've heard."
Pool has conducted queries into the author of the song, but so far no clues have turned up. He hopes that the more people who hear it, the better the chances of locating someone who is familiar with it so that its copyright can be determined.
"I see playing it in public as part of our due diligence," he said.
Pool, who has a background in music theory and composition, hasn't stopped there. He recently used a piece of software called Sibelius to virtually orchestrate the "UB Alma Mater" sheet music, transforming it from notes on a dusty page to a robust piece with old-school touches. Inspired, he is now working on some variations on its theme.
The lyrics, which refer to the University only as "Baltimore," feature lines about the power of education:
For vision bright of wisdom's light,
For gift of wings to soar,
For teaching us the might of right,
We thank thee Baltimore.
Pool said a note attached to the sheet music called for it to be played in the key of G.
"That's a pretty important notation," he said. "Play it in the wrong key and it's very hard to sing."
UB's incoming freshmen practiced the song during the Friday, Aug. 21 Access UB event, and the next day they performed it for the entire student body at the Lyric.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts and the Merrick School of Business.