‘On the Banks’: Rutgers and New Brunswick Music History Exhibit Displayed at Alexander Library

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Last Updated on March 22, 2021 by laaAdmin

Livingston College Liberated Gospel Choir
Livingston College’s Liberated Gospel Choir, 1977. Courtesy of Rutgers University Archives.

The fall 2013 exhibition, On the Banks of the Raritan: Music at Rutgers and New Brunswick, was on view from October 9, 2013 until January 31, 2014, in the galleries on the ground floor and lower level of Alexander Library. The exhibit examined more than a century of New Brunswick’s musical landscape.

The exhibition featured documents, photographs, and artifacts from Special Collections and University Archives and the Performing Arts Library, including the papers of pioneering composer and Rutgers Professor of Music Robert Moevs.

The Music at Rutgers portion of the exhibit focused on students and professors who participated in the musical clubs and programs at Rutgers College, New Jersey College for Women (Douglass College), Livingston College, and Mason Gross School of the Arts from 1880 to the mid- to late 1980s.

Highlighted clubs included the Rutgers College Chapel Choir, Glee Club, and band; New Jersey College for Women’s Weeping Willows, Drum Corps, and Voorhees Chapel Choir; Livingston College’s Liberated Gospel Choir and jazz clubs; the various ensembles of Mason Gross School of the Arts, cross-college groups and events including the University Choir, WRSU radio, and the University Concert Series; and music played at dances, athletic events, and other college traditions.

Livingston College drums class
Livingston College drums class (undated). Courtesy of Rutgers University Archives.

Although the schools of Rutgers University functioned fairly independently for much of this period, this shared interest and passion for music as an activity, entertainment, and tradition united the student body. At Rutgers, music is as rooted in history and tradition as going to a football game, reading the Targum, participating in Yule Log or Sacred Path, or singing your Alma Mater at graduation.

On the Banks of the Raritan was on display in Gallery ’50 and the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery in the Archibald S. Alexander Library. The exhibition was curated by Flora Boros, Kathy Fleming DC ’08, Thomas Izbicki, and Fernanda Perrone. 

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