The Bienen Contemporary Early Vocal Ensemble’s performance of Northwestern’s Alma Mater was featured in a new public service announcement that debuted during Northwestern’s October 24 football game.

According to Northwestern’s Office of Global Marketing and Communication, PSAs during Northwestern athletic events have the largest media audience of any university communications. In years past, a single spot averages over 11 million national impressions per year.
The video combines original animation from Northwestern’s Global Anthem video and inspirational text based on President Schapiro’s essay on educating students for an uncertain future.

Bienen School alumnus Kevin Vondrak ’17 MMus arranged the Alma Mater, which was also featured prominently in Northwestern’s 2020 Commencement and Bienen School Convocation virtual ceremonies. The Bienen School of Music and Donald Nally commissioned the arrangement for the 60th reunion of the Class of 1959.

Northwestern’s traditional Alma Mater ("Quacumque sunt vera") was arranged in 1907 by Peter Christian Lutkin, the first dean of the School of Music. In 1953, then Director of Bands John Paynter ’50, '51 MMus recruited undergraduate music student Thomas Tyra ’54 to write English lyrics for the song. 

Vondrak used several sources of inspiration for his arrangement, which includes both Latin and English lyrics and ancient and modern musical sounds. Instead of “Amen,” his arrangement ends with “Go ’Cats.”

Watch the new PSA below: 


The full Alma Mater performance was featured in the Bienen School's 2020 virtual convocation:

  • Donald Nally