March: Omega Lambda Chi (1974)
CHARLES IVES (ed. and arr. Keith Brion)
Omega Lamda Chi was a fictitious fraternity created by some Yale sophomores in the 1870s. Freshmen were pledged to a non-existent society so they would buy the sophomores cigars and drinks. By the 1880s the name Omega Lambda Chi had become applied to a wild May night of campus festivities. Classes paraded (sometimes with a band) singing, shooting firecrackers, and cheering through the buildings of the Old Campus. Climaxing the rough and tumble evening was the “Pass of Thermopolae.” In this brutal affair, the Freshman class ran the gauntlet through the large stone Phelps Gateway while receiving the blows of the three upper classes. By 1900, the Omega Lambda Chi had become too dangerous and was outlawed by the faculty.
This march was probably written during Ives’ Christmas vacation in 1895 and completed upon his return to school. The tune Omega Lambda Chi is derived from Sailing, sailing found in the first strain.
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