The Catholic University of America

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The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presents

Songs of Old CUA

A Nostalgic Musical Revue Celebrating
Catholic University's 125th Anniversary


  Fight song

On Sunday, Feb. 12, at 3 p.m., history was made on the Catholic University campus. Music not heard for decades was performed again as part of CUA's 125th anniversary event, "Songs of Old CUA," a nostalgic musical revue celebrating the music written at CUA, for CUA, by CUA people.   

The Great Room of the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center was packed with an audience of about 400 people, many of who were alumni who came back to hear the old songs they remember singing during their years as students at Catholic University.


The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presented this multi-media performance event, featuring live singing, dancing, and performances by the CUA Wind Ensemble, the Flying Cardinals Dance Band, and Redline, the oldest student a cappella group at CUA.  Dancing with live music provided by CUA alumnus and faculty member Doug Bowles and the SingCo Rhythm Orchestra capped off the evening.

The revue celebrated an important part of CUA's history on stage: old-time CUA songs, big dance numbers (accompanied by the old-time Flying Cardinals Dance Band), renditions of the CUA original fight song (did you know we had one?), "The Flying Cardinals March," and the earliest sports song, "Through the Town," from 1916.


Other pieces included a drinking song popular during Prohibition, "Drink a Highball," trumpet fanfares and cheers to accompany sports events, and two – yes, two – Alma Mater songs, in brand-new arrangements for wind band and chorus.

The performance also explored lesser-known pieces of CUA's history through this music. For example, did you know that the CUA football team won the 1936 Orange Bowl?   Did you know that an internationally-famous composer wrote an alma mater for CUA on request?  Or that the CUA Glee Club performed on the radio for a national and international audience every week?  


Student musicians, 1916  
Student musicians, 1916  

Audience members also saw rare photographs, films, and audio recordings from CUA's 125 year history.  What did Mullen Library look like when it was first built?  Was the baseball team actually playing a game on the grass near Caldwell?  Was that Ed McMahon standing with Father Hartke breaking ground for the new theatre?  A full range of CUA campus life - academic processions, track and field meets, dances and socials, students and faculty marching through Brookland on St. Patrick's Day – were brought to life in a multimedia presentation accompanying the performance.


Songs of Old CUA put vibrant glimpses of our campus' rich musical life under the spotlights, long before a school of music was founded on campus.  From the earliest days of student-written "marching songs" to Redline, the tradition of making music on campus is alive and flourishing.




> View Video


Flying Cardinals Band
The Flying Cardinals Marching Band, 1934



Explore Historic Music of CUA

The Songs of Old CUA performance on Feb. 12, 2012, was the culmination of a research project to find and preserve the historic music of The Catholic University of America.

Researchers Rachel Barham and Maurice Saylor became historical music sleuths, digging through old boxes of music, archival files, and old issues of The Tower in search of the University's lost musical treasures.

And treasures are what they found: forgotten marches arranged for The Flying Cardinals Marching Band, old football cheers, CUA Glee Club songs, victory songs, drinking songs, and the story of CUA's two competing alma maters. They found hand-written scores and lyrics, and  uncovered the stories of some of the people who wrote the recovered music.

More information about this project is available on the Historic Music of CUA website. The site features digital recordings of many of the songs included in the research project. 


Music Librarian Maurice Saylor and Music Library Technician Rachel Barham researched the historical music of CUA.

  • 'Songs' Brings Musical History to Life

    On Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, performers from Catholic University's Benjamin T. Rome School of Music presented "Songs of Old CUA," a nostalgic revue of music from CUA's history. (Video)

  • Feb. 12 Dance Party to Evoke Bygone Era

    Dancers will take to the floor in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center Great Room on Sunday, Feb. 12, as part of the University's 125th anniversary celebration.

  • Video Trailer Announcing 'Songs of Old CUA'

    The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of Catholic University presents "Songs of Old CUA," a multimedia musical revue of the University’s history at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012. (See video.)

  • Nostalgic Revue to Feature Bygone CUA Music

    In February, Catholic University will stage "Songs of Old CUA" — a nostalgic musical revue celebrating music not heard for decades.

  • CUA Magazine Features 125th Anniversary

    The fall issue of CUA Magazine celebrates the University’s 125th anniversary with articles about service and a cover story on CUA’s historic music.