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Grof Commission

This page is used to share information about the commission of a new piece of American Music in memory of Brother Bob Grof.  The piece was premiered on April 6, 2014 during the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of Gamma Epsilon chapter.

Thank you to all who made a donation so this project could happen. 

We reached our goal of $5,000 for the commission!! 

The video of the Premiere of "When Day Is Done" has been uploaded to YouTube.  Check it out at:


If you would like your own DVD copy of the premiere, please send an email to Joe Levine (levine@msu.edu).  Make sure to include your U S Mail address in the email.


Composer’s Notes  - Joe Spaniola

Bob Grof was an inspiring individual.  Though I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I have come to know and admire him.  I admire the way he lived his life.  In very fundamental terms, he was a kind and unselfish human being, a Spartan, a Sinfonian, and a decorated patriot.  These are the traits I set out to convey in the piece that honors him.

By all accounts Bob found great joy in doing what needed to be done, in helping others and going above and beyond the call.  The words of Edgar Guest’s poem “When Day is Done” capture the caring, humble and optimistic side of Bob Grof.  It presents a portrait of an individual who upon reflection finds, despite the hustle and challenges of everyday living, “that life is good and its tasks worthwhile.”  When the verse speaks of returning to “the friendly door . . . where music reigns . . . and the brothers sing in an old-time way,” you will find melodic quotations from the “MSU Shadows” which help recall Bob’s bond to home - Michigan State, Phi Mu Alpha, and the greater Lansing area - and those who helped make his time there so meaningful.

The contrasting section of “When Day is Done” has the choir diverge from the Guest poetry and the text is spoken rather than sung.  In this section four elements are juxtaposed.  The first is a combination of two statements taken from Phi Mu Alpha writings: “A unique force exists when music and love are combined to bring peace and comfort to those in need,” and the motto for the fraternity’s members, “manly musician and musicianly man.”  The second element is a group of actions that Bob Grof seemed to pursue: sanctify love; personify honor; identify truth; amplify peace; exemplify courage; and intensify giving.  The third element is the name of the unit in which Bob served when he was killed in action: B/2/17 CAV 101 ABN.  The forth element is simply Bob Grof’s name.  The four elements are brought together and transform in a magical way.

In the final section of the piece, the choir returns to singing text from Guest’s poem.  The poetry presents its protagonist in a reflective review of his life.  He finds himself in a place where there “are those who cling to their faith in me.”  The reflection is summed up by stating, “With love on guard at my humble door, I have all that the world’s struggled for.”  This protagonist is Bob Grof.  He lived a tragically short, but honest, rich, generous and fulfilling life.  He touched in a special way all whose path crossed his.  We remember him as we “cling to our faith in him” and know that he truly has “all that the world’s struggled for.”  We honor and salute Bob Grof: cherished brother, faithful Spartan and devoted patriot.

Once a Sinfonian,

Always a Sinfonian.

Long live Sinfonia!


Letter from Don Mohr (1957)

Dear Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Alumnus:

A very important part of the upcoming 75th Celebration will be the premiere of a new work of music in memory of Brother Bob Grof.  I’m hoping that you will consider contributing to help pay the cost of this commission.

When Bob was in Gamma Epsilon chapter he was Mr. Fix-It.  Those were the days when we owned the house on Ann Street and it seemed that every week brought new challenges to keep the house functioning.  Electrical, plumbing, painting – Bob could (and did) fix it.  Bob was a member of the State Singers and also directed the chapter’s chorus.  And, when he had a few free minutes, he was playing string bass or trombone in a chapter dance band.

Bob and I were commissioned together at MSU as Army 2nd Lieutenants in 1960. After our basic officer branch training, we got together again at Ft. Knox, KY and even managed to play a number of gigs at service and NCO clubs (me on piano and Bob on string bass.) Bob was a groomsman and Vicki sang at my wedding to Nelda in 1962. From there Bob went to flight school, and I was assigned to Germany.

Bob went to Viet Nam in 1967 and it was during this first tour of duty that it became clear that Bob Grof would become one of MSU’s most decorated war heroes.  He was awarded the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross – the Medal of Honor is the only award higher.  Here’s the citation from that award:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Robert L. Grof (0-5513249), Captain (Armor), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Troop D, 3d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, 9th Infantry Division. Captain Grof distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 19 June 1967 as an aircraft commander during an evacuation mission for the 9th Infantry Division. Hearing an urgent radio request to evacuate over one hundred casualties from a heated battle, Captain Grof flew to the unsecured area and landed to load the wounded. Intense machine gun fire raked the aircraft and wounded him in the face. Despite the pain of his injury, impairment of his sight and a crippled ship, he successfully flew out of the area to a treatment center. Upon reaching the hospital, Captain Grof volunteered to stay in his aircraft and returned to the beleaguered unit for more casualties. While patients were being loaded, the helicopter was rendered inoperative by numerous additional hits, one of which wounded Captain Grof a second time. Despite the incredibly intense fire directed on his craft, he remained aboard to radio other helicopters in the area to move to a more secure area. Seeing another ship crash nearby, he rushed to the scene and made repeated trips through an open rice paddy to help the survivors to safety. He then recovered vital ammunition from the downed craft and established a perimeter defense. He and his men successfully repelled the enemy until medical evacuation helicopters could land and evacuate them. Captain Grof's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Bob returned to Viet Nam as a Major in 1971 and on April 10, 1971, at 32 years of age, he was killed in action while flying a mission.  He was survived by his wife and three young children and so many Phi Mu Alpha brothers whose lives were touched by him.

I hope you can now understand why a number of ΦMA Alumni have come together to support the commissioning of an original composition in memory of Bob.  Won’t you please join this effort?

The MSU College of Music Advancement Office has graciously agreed to assist in this effort so that checks should be made out to “Michigan State University” (with the memo “ΦMA Sinfonia Fund AE060815”).  They should be sent to:  MSU College of Music,  Attn: Amy Rivard,  Rm 105 Music Building,  333 W. Circle Drive,  East Lansing, MI 48824.  Or, if you would prefer, donations can be made online at (https://givingto.msu.edu/gift/?sid=1436).  Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.  Donations received in excess of the amount needed for the commission will be used to support projects of Gamma Epsilon chapter.

I hope that it will be possible for you to assist in the creation of this musical tribute in memory of Bob Grof - a person who worked hard to help sustain Phi Mu Alpha at MSU and who gave all for his country so that we all can be proud to be a Sinfonian.

Once a Sinfonian, Always a Sinfonian.  Long Live Sinfonia!




When Day Is Done

The music commissioned in memory of Brother Bob Grof, written for chorus and brass ensemble, is entitled “When Day Is Done” and is adapted from a poem by Edgar Guest (unofficial poet laureate of Michigan)

When day is done and the night slips down,

And I've turned my back on the busy town.

And come once more to the welcome gate

Where the roses nod and the children wait.

I tell myself as I see them smile

That life is good and its tasks worth while.


When day is done and I reach my gate,

I come to a realm where there is no hate,

For here, whatever my worth may be,

Are those who cling to their faith in me;

And with love on guard at my humble door,

I have all that the world has struggled for.


The Grof Commission Committee:

Don Mohr (1957)

Leon Bradley (1957)

Ron Facktor (1959)

Art Riedel (1958)

Dave Wisner (1956)

John Kostoff (1957)

Chuck Coltrane (1958)

Gerry Spry (1959)

Pete Demos (1960)

Phil Hillstrom (1960)

Tom Elliott (1968)

Joe Levine (1960)

Carl Simon (1957)

Terry Odelli (1961)

Ben Woodcock (2009 - Gamma Epsilon President)

Jon Carrothers (2010 - Gamma Epsilon Alumni Relations Officer)

Bob Petrella (1964)

Burt Apple (1958)