The group began as a mere octet, consisting of 2 first tenors, 2 second tenors, 2 baritones, and 2 basses. At the time, the school was known as the Western University of Pennsylvania. In 1891, the University's name was changed to the present one, and the Glee Club Association was merged with the Banjo and Mandolin Clubs. Records show that in 1901, the Club was listed as "purely a student organization, consisting of members of the Glee Club and Mandolin Clubs-It's objective was to stimulate the musical interest among the undergraduates, to promote sociability, to develop the college spirit, and to promote the fair name of 'Old Uni.' In 1922, the organization was still operating under the combined titles of musical clubs, but in 1923, the group's name was changed to the Glee Club and Ensemble. And in 1926, after performing for a short time with the Dental Chorus (comprised of students from Pitt Dental School), the Glee Club evolved into the organization it is today.
Past music directors have included Earl Yearsley, Dr. W. H. Wright, Theodore M. Finney, David Weiss, Emanuel Rubin, Thomas Caruso, Phillip Cavanaugh, David Mitchell, Nina Tober, John Yankee, Kim Rauch, Greg Scheer, Kristin Dell Rust, Andrew Greiner, and Stephen Greene. The group's present director, since 1999 is Richard Teaster.
The current Club is comprised of undergraduate students from throughout the University, as well as a few recent alumni. Traditionally, the Glee Club has sung for a variety of campus-wide and community functions, including graduations, receptions, alumni gatherings, sporting events, and Chancellor's events. They have also performed in many volunteer venues, including nursing homes, hospitals, and retirement communities.
The Club also tours annually, both internationally and domestically and recently gave a series of concerts in the Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, and Austria.