Music has always been integral to the Amherst experience. The College Choir was formally established and its constitution adopted on December 3, 1833. The faculty agreed to grant $50 to the Choir annually, as long as students strictly follow its constitution and submit a report for the approval of the College president.
After a committee from the class of 1862 was organized to address the matter, the College released the first issue of Songs of Amherst in March 1860. This 75-page volume contained lyrics for 62 songs, all but eight written especially for Amherst.
October 1894: Under the direction of Edward Sumner, Amherst’s Musical Association became the first U.S. college glee club to perform abroad, touring England for four and a half weeks, before enthusiastic audiences. The same year, William P. Bigelow ’89 was appointed Amherst’s first professor of music. At that time, Harvard was the only other American school with such a position, but more soon follow: Columbia, Dartmouth and then Williams College, which appoints Amherst alumnus Sumner Salter ’77 professor of music in 1905.
March 5, 1931: The Amherst Glee Club has a long history of singing tours of England and Continental Europe as well as around the United States. The group first visited Bermuda in 1928 and returned in 1931. They performed at the White House in 1920, during Calvin Coolidge ’95’s term as U.S. vice president, and embarked on a world tour in 1967. Amherst's reputation as "The Singing College" spreads far and wide.
On October 3, 2019, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg visited campus. At the beginning of her talk with President Martin, the Choral Society performed music from her favorite, The Marriage of Figaro.