Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tour Memories from our 154th Season


This past spring, the 154th Yale Glee Club spent a whirlwind ten days in Spain, bringing concert masterpieces and Yale favorites to audiences across the Iberian Peninsula. Glee Clubbers were able to take a five hour head-start on Spring Recess as we boarded the buses to head for JFK International Airport and our first stop, Barcelona! With only a few mishaps along the way, we finished our day of travel with Flamenco and tapas at our welcome dinner. The spectacle was mesmerizing and jaws dropped as proud women and swashbuckling men performed the traditional, Andalusian dance, which to my untrained eye looked a lot like a Spanish version of tap dancing with extra flare. Following a visit to the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres, we joined the Cor Jove Amics de Granollers, a local choir of college-age students, at the church in Castello d’Empuries. As we would learn throughout the trip, nearly every small town in Spain has a magnificent, medieval church, and Castello d’Empuries was no different. Though a bit chilly in the venue, the beautiful music and magical scene more than made up for it. Jeff Douma made a few last-minute changes to our concert selection, highlighting the Renaissance polyphony in our repertoire, which sounded particularly gorgeous in the setting for which it was originally intended: gothic cathedrals. 

We were also able to enjoy a walking tour of Barcelona, ending at the Sagrada Familia, the unfinished masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudi. YGC Business Manager T Sean Maher knew from the moment we left JFK that visiting the Sagrada Familia would be the highlight of his time in Spain. I was more skeptical. From the outside, the stone of the facade looked to be melting (I just didn’t get it), but the interior was absolutely breathtaking. We all strained towards the ceiling and roundels of stained glass, marveling at the pillars supporting the edifice, which were so thin and elegant that they seemed more decorative than structural, almost resembling trees holding up the colorful canopy of the ceiling. And as if the day couldn’t get any better, that evening, we rehearsed Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with the University of Barcelona Orchestra and local choir at the Paranimf of the University. A beautiful piece of music in a beautiful concert hall in a beautiful country. Tour was well under way!
The next two days were given over to daylong excursions as the Glee Club visited the famous monastery and boys’ school at Montserrat and relaxed on the beach at Sitges, a small town on the Golden Coast. The windy mountain roads were a trial for many, but luckily our guide Iris was able to indulge her bus in a short history of Spain from its geological beginnings to the present day in order to keep our minds off the steep cliffs and sharp turns. We were lucky enough to be able to visit the famous boys’ school which educates the choir boys who sing mass at the monastery, and listen to el Virolai, a hymn to the Virgin of Montserrat, whose statue is housed in the adjoining chapel. The trip to Sitges was a much needed day of rest for the Glee Clubbers, following a long winter in New Haven. We played Frisbee on the beach and ran into the refreshing Mediterranean waters to cool off afterwards. That evening, we performed the Brahms Requiem in front of a large audience in the Paranimf. It was a special opportunity to be able to perform the Requiem twice this year, the first time in Barcelona and a second time in New Haven after Spring Recess. The performance was a fantastic capstone to our stay in Barcelona.

We followed our time in Barcelona with a few days in Madrid, marked by our performance with the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and by continued discoveries about the Spanish culture. There is no better way to appreciate a city than by strolling through it, and we learned a lot about the history of the area and the city on our walking tour which ended with a visit to the Royal Palace. The palace was beautiful and ornate, with intricate plaster ceilings and gaudily decorated and themed rooms. The main staircase was flanked by a pair of lions meant to be imposing, yet a number of Glee Clubbers, led by Mary Petzke (BR 2018) and Emma Hathaway (SM 2017), recognized that they were more distraught than fierce, and easily imitated for a funny photo. From the Royal Palace we journeyed to Cuenca, a small town on the outskirts of Madrid famous for its hanging houses. The town was quaint, but as with all small Spanish towns, it would seem, graced with a beautiful gothic church. The musical portion of our international tour ended that night with our solo concert at Cuenca. Though we gained so much from our musical collaborations throughout the tour, we were glad to have the stage to ourselves that night to share the beautiful music and our hard work with each other and the audience. And of course, we had to share the football medley with the Spanish. Though perhaps the audience missed a few of the subtleties, they certainly knew that there is not, and there never shall be, hope for Harvard. 

Following a final day of free time and a trip to Toledo, all of the Glee Clubbers joined together for the customary, end-of-tour banquet. At this tapas style cocktail party, Glee Clubbers mingled for a few hours, reminiscing over the best memories of the past ten days before sitting down for a roast put on by the Tour Committee. Committee, selected in secret by the President, is responsible for cataloguing the best one-liners, mishaps and funny stories to happen on tour and for weaving every Glee Clubber and their respective hilarities into one (at least somewhat) coherent storyline. Rachel Protacio (PC 2015) selected this year’s committee, and they did not disappoint. Dan Rubins (PC 2016) was the mastermind and narrator, accompanied by over twenty other Glee Clubbers who were each an integral part of the ensuing hilarity. Paul “the sly-stinging” Styslinger (as played by Jeb Roberts (ES 2015)) brought the most laughs by far.

The banquet is a time to reminisce about the great memories of the past ten days and relish the many friendships that have grown stronger or just begun. All in all, it was a bittersweet time. We loved Spain, but we would soon be leaving. We grew so close, especially with the Class of 2015, and yet they would graduate in only two months. The feelings of the moment were perfectly captured in the song “Raise Your Voices,” and when we wrapped our arms around each other and started singing, there was hardly a dry eye.

Time passes quickly here, everything new
Childhood behind us now, fading from view
Our bright college years endure as memories within
But always the song rings out, once more begin
To raise your voices with me for a time
And in the weaving yours will lift the sound of mine

That, in a nutshell, is what tour is all about. We bring music to other communities so that together we can be lifted. Recognizing that time passes quickly, we strive to make memories together in our short time that will last a lifetime. Yes childhood is fading, yes our college years will come to a close, but we will always be a part of the fellowship of singers and friends that is the Yale Glee Club, and when we return for the 200th Anniversary Celebration, shared memories of our trip to Spain will help fuel the reunion of old friends.


The Yale Glee Club’s Minitour was a frosty, yet tremendous success! We kicked off our tour in Montreal, giving a concert with the McGill University Chorus, led by Francois Ouimet. We sang parts of the Brahms Requiem with our peers at McGill, and finished the program with our standard tour repertoire, featuring works from the 16th century to the present, including premieres of new compositions, folk songs, spirituals, and Yale songs (old and new)!

The remainder of our time in Montreal was spent in wintry fun: ice skating, trudging through snow covered streets, eating maple products, and appreciating the beautiful architecture of Old Montreal.

From Montreal, we headed down to Burlington, Vermont for a concert at St. Michael’s College, supported by St. Michael’s Choral Director and YGC Alumn Nat Lew.  We performed for an audience that was spilling out into the aisles – literally! Luckily, the mayor of Burlington was there to welcome us (and lend us immunity for our clear fire code violations!). While in Burlington, we “moo”-ved through the Ben and Jerry’s factory, delighted in delicious ice-cream samples, and explored Burlington’s picturesque city center.

We returned to New Haven excited to begin semester two with wonderful memories of concerts and time together, and with a deeper appreciation for New Haven’s now seemingly mild winter climate.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

War Dreams Concert (Written by Victoria Pierre)

While I thoroughly enjoyed the Bernstein, I decided to make this blog post an extended version of the pep-talk I gave before our concert on Friday, in which I talked about the Vaughan Williams. Enjoy!
I first encountered this piece while I was 16, as part of a northern Virginia choral association concert. They mailed me the score (which I still have) and gave me a few weeks to learn it before having two rehearsals and then a concert. I still remember trying to learn the music note by note (since I couldn’t sight read back then) listen to a midi file of the soprano I part on repeat. So this is how I encountered Vaughan Williams--a piano midi file. My first impression, especially once I got to “Beat! Beat! Drums!” was….what the heck is this music. I didn’t really understand the poetry, or the war, or any of the context surrounding this piece. All I knew was there was something about a solemn church and a bridegroom and bugles, and something about snorting horses in Dan…the piece was a mystery to me.

When we had our first rehearsal, the director explained a bit about the piece, and about Vaughan Williams’ experiences in WWI, and suddenly it made so much more sense. I went from being a bit ambivalent about the piece, to falling in love with it. But then, I sort of forgot about it, and didn’t listen to it again until I was at Yale, when, on a whim, I downloaded it to my ipod. Listening to it all the way through, really paying attention to the poetry and what this piece was really saying, the piece was suddenly new to me.

We start out with a wail for peace from the soprano, but it is ignored as we’re caught up in the fervor of war with “Beat! Beat! Drums!” The war fundamentally changes society--we’re now in a state of total war. The churches, the schools, the home, everything is swept up and drowned out by the sound of the bugles. Then we get to “Reconciliation”...and the poetry is powerful. It’s the promise that even after the horrors and carnage of war, even they must in time pass. And then we get to the second baritone solo. And for me, personally, this is the most poignant and powerful moment in the piece. “For my enemy is dead. A man divine as myself is dead. I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin. I draw near, bend down, and touch lightly with my lips, the white face in the coffin.” THIS is war. People killing other people. The man the poet has just killed is just as human and seemingly divine as he is. Soldiers often had the mentality that getting killed was something that happened to other people, not to you.

You know, psychologically, killing another human being is one of the most difficult things a person can do. And here, in this situation, the poet has just killed a man. It was likely on the battlefield--kill or be killed. But now, he’s not an enemy anymore, no longer a kraut, or a hun, but a man. Now that he sees him up close, he can no longer deny him his humanity.

It is no wonder that Vaughan Williams includes this text in the work, out of the multitude of other poems about war. It’s the one that deals with it on a most personal level--the fact that war asks men to kill their fellow human beings. While Williams’ didn’t have to kill on the battlefield, his job, that of an ambulance driver, meant seeing the carnage day in and day out. War for him wasn’t about fancy battle plans or politics, it was about human beings, and what such a condition did to them.

Similarly the Dirge for Two Veterans deals with the effect of war on the family. It utterly destroyed them. And then, after all of this terrible war, and death, we get triumph! The last movement is about triumph of life over death, hope, knowledge that this world is finite, that war won’t last forever, that there is something to hope for. But instead of ending there, on a bombastic note, it ends softly and introspectively, like a prayer.

Sometimes it’s difficult to make these types of themes--war and death--relevant to us, and it’s so easy to forget the experiences that these people had, what they went through. It’s all neatly summarized in a history book. But it’s so much more than history. It’s a person’s real life experience. And this is something that can be captured in the union of poetry and music more than any history book can. War hasn’t gone away, even if we may feel far removed from it. For me, this piece be a reminder that history is not just events, but human experiences.  History is personal. This piece captures a certain part of the human experience, that though, can be difficult to talk about, is one that should never be forgotten. And I think on Friday, we truly conveyed to the audience what this piece was about--the triumph of life over death, and the promise of hope and renewal after terrible calamities. It's a piece that I think will always be relevant, and certainly one that I'll always come back to.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ein Deutsches Requiem (written by Grace Castillo)

Here's a blog post written by a freshman in the Glee Club, Grace Castillo. Read it below!


Even though it had been snowing all day, Woolsey hall was nearly filled on Saturday night. Friends, relatives, and community members were all waiting to hear Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. The Glee Club had already performed the piece on our recent tour to Spain, and we were all especially excited to sing it back in our familiar Woolsey Hall with the wonderful supers (alternates), and the YSO.

As we waited backstage, half of the group on the staircase, our tuxes and dresses rustling, I thought ahead to the piece we were about to perform. We had worked hard on each of the seven movements during the last few months in rehearsals, and I was eager to finally share it with the wider Yale community. More than anything though, I was excited to have my relatives, who were sitting in the first balcony, hear the group that had been such a big part of my freshman year.

As we filed onto the risers, I thought back to all of the times that people—Jeff and many members of the Glee Club— had reiterated that Brahms’ requiem was as much for the living as it was for the dead. It was a thought that stayed with me from the first to the last ‘selig.’ We created the music as a group, and I had come to consider the members of the Glee Club no longer as friendly acquaintances but as dear friends. This feeling of cohesion, combined with the presence of my loved ones in the audience, amplified not only my enjoyment of the music, but also its message of togetherness and a shared human experience. Though it probably comes across as cheesy, I mean it in an earnest and heartfelt way—the Brahms Requiem encompasses not just the beauty of music, but the reason we perform any music at all.

 After the concert reached its close, groups of friends and family members congratulated one another on a job well done. The post-concert excitement assured me that things couldn’t have gone any better, and once again reminded me of how happy I am to be in a group like YGC. My grandparents told me that they’d loved the concert (I believed them, even though saying such things is an important part of their job as grandparents), and we headed to the reception.


Until next time!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

First Day in Spain! (Written by Claire Carroll)

Well, we’re finally here. Since thoughts of sunny Spain were the only thing that got me through midterms, I am a little worried that the reality would fall short of my expectations. As we land in Barcelona I am more tired than excited. The airport, the baggage claim, the mechanized walkways are pretty much the same at JFK. But once we get outside—without sweaters—and see the palm trees, feel the sun, I know my hopes for the trip were not misplaced.
We load into buses and take the short drive to our hotel. Outside the window there are ancient arenas next to modern statues, tapas bars next to sushi bars next to Irish pubs. Instead of ice and snow there are trees covered in flowers and elaborate fountains. Our hotel is right in the thick of Barcelona; I’m not sure if it’s in the center, or downtown, or what, but it’s definitely great. Once we check in and get our room assignments we have a couple free hours. Some explore and find cafés the like. A large contingent naps and cleans off the airport smells. At five we convene in the reception area for a meeting before dinner. We learn to be wary of pick pockets and that Spain does not partake in Daylight Savings. There are many groans after we are informed that our wake up calls will be at six-thirty, but the promise of breakfast helps (a little). After the meeting the practical Glee clubbers grab sweaters and we load back onto the buses. The drive out of the city to Montjuïc, (“Jew Mountain”) offers stunning panoramas of Barcelona. We see medieval-looking castles that were actually built for a World Fair in the 1920s (wow! Early 20th century imitations of ancient architecture! Sounds familiar…) We get off the buses at a beautiful park set up like a walled village, featuring architecture from all over Spain. Even though our restaurant for dinner is tucked in the back, it’s the clear highlight. We sit down and are immediately presented with sodas and gazpacho. While the vegetarians have to eat together, the wide selection of tapas has something for everyone. There is Manchego cheese with thyme and triangles of bread with tomato paste. Spanish ham is followed by spicy mushrooms. We can’t decide whether the next course is bean balls or some sort of fried potato and cheese concoction, but it turns out to be blood pudding. We finish off with crunchy Calamari and crème brûlée. Then the show begins.
We had been told that dinner would be followed by excellent flamenco dancing. I had never seen flamenco before, and thought it would be sort of like a tango. I could not have been more wrong. The classical guitarist opens with riffs so fast I cannot see his fingers (granted, I left my glasses at Yale.) One of the singers begins to warble Spanish words to an Arabic-sounding melody. And then, the first dancer steps out. She keeps the focus on her feet, her gestures are minimal, but I wouldn’t want to be distracted anyway. She dances some combination of Irish step dancing, tap, and jazz-like improvisation. The other dancers sit at the side, clapping and stomping with the musicians. They cheer on the current dancer in a way that reminds me of how a cappella singers snap and cheer for a soloist. Sometimes the guitarist starts a song, other times the dancer invents a beat and the guitarist follows, his eyes glued to their feet. The same pattern follows with the three other dancers, but each puts their own flare on the intricate dance.
Our tour guide told us that the flamenco is named because the dancers’ hands look like flames. For a moment I am convinced that the next man has a glowing cigarette in his hand, but it is just the red lights glinting off his ring. He roams the space, nearly pacing, getting very close to the Glee clubbers seated at the front of the stage, then pulling away. He doesn’t only clap, but also beats his hands against his body. At one point he holds one hand in front of his heart and claps the other between it and his chest, like a rapid heartbeat, while his feet click away faster than a telegram. 
The next woman is younger and uses her whole body as one curving line, from her feet to her back to her fingers. Sometimes she holds up her skirt to show off her footwork, other times she is moving so fast that the skirt flares up on its own. She wears a shawl of red tassels that whip about like helicopter blades. While she dances, a new man who did not sit in the wings before taps a simple accompanying beat in the corner. He has a very thick head of wavy hair that most of us comment on. He is the only dancer to wear a jacket, but when he moves, he doesn’t seem hindered at all. He nearly hovers at the back of the stage, cutting very close to the musicians’ microphones. He more than the other dancers seems to be improvising. He does not smile and when he throws off the jacket no one is surprised. His riffs are sharp and seem to be kicking along the guitarist, who speeds up with the dancer. I hope we can own our stages half as well as he does.
We leave right after the bows; some people were falling asleep despite the excitement. The park is still mild in the dark and still smells like flowers. In the central square there are now two giant wooden figures for a local holiday. After all the interesting things of the day, their sudden appearance does not seem nearly as peculiar as it would have on, say, the New Haven Green. We pass the Singing Fountains on the bus ride back to the hotel; many of us hope to go and see the show for ourselves. But tonight no one is awake enough to explore.
So many thanks go to T Sean Maher, Jeff Douma, and our terrific tour managers Max Bryski and Marianna Gailus for getting us here and giving us such a terrific first day. I can’t wait to see what the next week brings.

Glove Always,

Claire Carroll 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Montreal and Burlington Mini-tour 2015!

Wednesday, January 7th, 6:00am. The temperature is about 20 degrees below freezing, and it's still dark outside. The Glee Clubbers who have just returned from their three week respite from the stresses of college life gather in the new Glee Club office for bagels and coffee (as well as orange juice for those who got there early) before heading onto the buses for the six-hour drive to Montreal. Some sleep while others do their DS reading, and all partake in devouring the array of snacks that our tour managers, Jane Strauch and Emma Hathaway, bought especially for the trip. We make a short stop at a rest-stop before continuing to the border, where we get through without trouble. (Although lamentably, we do not receive a Canadian stamp on our passports...definitely a disappointment for some members of the group.)

And so we crossed over into Canada!

When we arrived in Montreal, the first thing we saw was snow. Snow in the streets, snow on the sidewalks (apparently they don't shovel in Montreal? Although I can't say I blame them...they'd be there all day) and of course snow falling from the sky. It was quite beautiful, although it did mean that we would have to trudge through the slush to find our "lunch on own." I was expecting it to be cold--but wow! Canadians must be made of some tougher stuff to brave those winters every year. 

After eating lunch we met at the Notre Dame cathedral, where we got a tour of the church. The exterior was modeled after the famous Notre Dame in Paris, and the inside was absolutely gorgeous! Here are some photos of the interior and the altarpiece. 

 After seeing the church we headed over to the hotel to check in and drop off our things before going to dinner. The restaurant seemed to specialize in savory crepes, and I must say, they were delicious. Satisfied and full of crepes, the Glee Club headed back onto the bus to go to the skating rink for some fun! (Well, fun for some, at least.) It became painfully obvious early on that some of us were amazing skaters (I'm looking at you, Cecelia!) while others were riding that struggle bus, or rather, clinging onto that struggle bus, in an attempt to stay upright while sort of shuffling/sliding along with the general flow of traffic. (That would be me.) Thankfully, the Glee Club is not only a group of amazing singers, but of amazing friends! Everyone helped each other out, holding hands with those who had no idea what they were doing (me, again) and were very encouraging to those who were having trouble. As someone who'd never skated before, I felt completely comfortable skating with the Glee Club, and considering how self-conscious I can be, that's saying something. So, thanks guys! You're the best.

Anyway, moving on! After skating we headed back to the hotel to get a good night's sleep to prepare for our rehearsal and then concert the next day. We took a bus to McGill University, where we rehearsed our repertoire before rehearsing the Brahms with the McGill University Chorus director, Francois Ouimet. Our hosts provided us with a free dinner from the university cafe, and then it was time for the concert! It was such fun to sing with the McGill choir, who gave us a taste of what the Brahms would sound like with all of the supernooms. (Supernooms are either past Glee Clubbers or other Yale students who sing with us for larger works) We had a great concert, and were happy to see some familiar faces--thanks again Ashby Cogan '14 and Marissa Karchin '14 for coming out!

The Yale Glee Club and McGill University Choir rehearsing the Brahms with Francois Ouimet

The morning after the concert we left for Burlington, Vermont, stopping on the way to visit the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury. As soon as we entered the building, we could smell the scent of waffle cones and chocolate permeating the air. It was glorious! The staff were nice enough to give us a free tour in exchange for singing a song, and Jeff decided that we should try singing "we all scream for ice-cream" to the tune of "Gaudeamus Igitur," a piece that has been in the repertoire since the founding of the Glee Club. We weren't sure if it would work exactly, but it turns out the Glee Club is not too bad with on the fly text underlay! After singing, we saw a short film on the history of Ben and Jerry's, then got to see how the ice-cream is made. At the end of the tour we each received a sample of their strawberry brownie ice-cream, before making our way to the cafe where many of us ordered our own cone or cup of their famous ice-cream.

After the tour we continued on to Burlington, where we broke off into groups and had lunch on our own before heading over to our concert venue, St. Michael's College. We rehearsed for a bit, had our traditional pep talk, and were shocked to hear from Nathaniel Geoffrey, our host and a Yale Glee Club alum, that the concert was completely sold out! We ended up bringing all of the chairs from the choir room where we'd been rehearsing to the lobby right outside the auditorium, where at least thirty people had been standing hoping to at least hear the concert. It's always great to sing for an audience that is excited to hear you--but excited enough to stand outside? Wow! It was a reminder of how special the music that we make is, and it also added an element of pressure to impress the audience. But of course, with Jeff conducting and dozens of hours of rehearsal under our belts, there was nothing to worry about. It was a great concert, not only musically, but in terms of the general enthusiasm. The lights were quite bright in the concert hall, and audience members were crammed right up to the stage, meaning that we were much closer to the audience than we usually are. And I must say, there's something truly special about seeing the expressions of the people in the audience, whether it was watching someone tear up at the climax of the "Agnus Dei" or others laugh at the witty poetry of "Telegram." It is at moments like these that I remember why we sing. This is why we spend all of those hours rehearsing and all of those months planning our tours. Because, in the end, it's not just about making beautiful music with each other, but it's about sharing that music with others and making an emotional connection with someone that we may have never nor ever will meet. There's something really special about that, and it's easy to forget that when we're just worrying about the next entrance or getting the cut-off exactly right.

Our concert in Burlington was a great end to our short three-day tour, and served as a teaser for our longer tour to Spain coming up in March. (I'll be doing lots of Facebook updates and some video blogging for that tour, so look out!) I just want to end this post by thanking everyone who helped make this tour possible, especially Jane Strauch, Emma Hathaway, Francois Ouimet, Nathaniel Geoffrey, T Sean Maher, and of course, our amazing conductor, Jeff. I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

With Glove,

Victoria Pierre

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Yale Glee Club Outreach!

Here is a blog post written by one of our co-CEO's (community engagement officers), Alison Levosky, about a recent outreach event that Glee Clubbers took part in. Read below!


About two weeks ago, a few members of the Glee Club had the privilege of traveling to City College Academy of the Arts (CCAA), a secondary school in Manhattan, where they were excited to be able to use their musical experiences to work with some of the students there. Martin Toomajian, who is a Yale alum (JE '06) and directs the glee club and the musical theatre at CCAA, reached out to the Community Engagement Officers of the YGC, Dan Rubins and I. Together, we were able to plan a very meaningful event for all involved.

The day's schedule was full of both fun and serious musical work: Glee Clubbers sang a few Yale songs for the CCAA students, and then the students sang and danced for the Glee Clubbers to show their hard work in preparation for their upcoming musical, Once Upon a Mattress. Then, the YGC members quickly learned the end of the finale of the musical and sang with the students to help them gain confidence for the end of their show. Next, the middle school and high school students broke off into different groups with the different YGC singers, and they had a chance to ask questions about music, or college, or Yale, or anything else they could think of! Finally, the groups came together to sing a combination of the alma maters of Yale and CCAA.

While the schedule sounds busy, it was so much more than a busy day for these Glee Clubbers, who also had a concert at the Yale Club the same night. One of our singers said, "Besides helping the kids with their music, I think our presence was really impactful in the sense that a lot of them expressed a happy surprise that we were personable and excited to talk to them - it seemed to take some of the scariness out of "College" for them, and a lot of what we told them about our own high school and college experiences showed them that they're more ready than they think." This seemed true for all of the groups; the students were so excited to be able to work with the Yale students, hear them sing, and realize that we are not so different from them.

Another singer mentioned the power of music, noting that "it is such a beautiful thing to watch music connect people who barely know each other, but share a love for what seems to be such a basic human experience...and it wasn't just about us teaching them, but it was about them reminding us of the pure joy of participating in music together." And it was true - though the day was fairly short and the friendships were built in only a few hours, it is a day that the Glee Clubbers and the students will be inspired by for many days to come. 

In a season of giving gifts, we as the Glee Club would like to express our thankfulness for the music we have to give and to share with our community, and we look forward to more events in which music can strengthen the ties of our community - whether in Manhattan, New Haven, New England, or beyond.

Yale Club + Messiah + End of the Year Musings


What a semester. Finals are over, students are heading home, and the Glee Club gets a three week break before meeting again in New Haven to head over to Montreal and Burlington for Winter Tour! More about our tour plans at the end of the blog post. First, let's talk about the concerts!

On Friday, December 5th, we had our annual concert at the Yale Club in New York, which is arguably our favorite concert of the semester. Not only do they feed us delicious food catered by the Yale Club, but we get to sing in front of perhaps our most friendly audience that we get all year--Yale alumni. From the Yale Club decorated for the holidays, to singing carols with the audience in-between pieces during the concert, it's a concert that really puts us in the mood for the holidays. We walked into the room singing "Deck the Hall," and then tried as best we could to cram ourselves onto the platform meant to hold a group half our size. It's a struggle every year, but we always make it work! (Certainly we can't complain about not being able to hear one another) We sang many of the pieces that we sang at Princeton and Harvard, with the Chamber Singers performing the classic Christmas carol, "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." The concert ended with the Football Medley and Bright College Years, and I must say its always heartwarming to see alumni of all ages waving their handkerchiefs in the air on "For God, for Country, and for Yale." It really reminds us that we're part of something bigger--of a tradition that goes back over a hundred years, and will hopefully continue for many more!

After our concert, we crossed the street and entered Grand Central Station, ready with our carol packets and fully warmed up from the previous hour of singing, to sing Christmas carols for the passersby. We look forward to our Grand Central caroling every year, and apparently so do other New Yorkers. (Some have even told me that they come every year to see us) Seeing how many people stopped to hear us sing--and how many were recording it on their phones--really reminded me of why we perform in the first place. Obviously, we love singing, but the reason we perform, at the heart of it, is to make people happy. You never know whose day you just made by singing something as simple as "Silent Night" right before they catch their train to go home after a long day at work. During the time of giving, sometimes the gift of music is one of the best gifts you can offer.

After a day of rest, Sunday rolled around, and it was time for the Messiah Sing-Along! Battell was absolutely packed, and everyone from the soloists to the conductors, to the YSO Chamber orchestra did a wonderful job! Sight reading Handel's fugues isn't always the easiest, but it's sure a great exercise in counting! Every year I swear I'm going to get better, but if there's been any progress, it's probably just that I've become a better sight reader. Oh well, at least enough people knew what they were doing so as to keep the momentum going!

With the Yale Club and Messiah concerts behind us, the official Glee Club Semester ended. It was a great semester full of new members, new music, and new memories. We'll be starting off the Spring Semester with a mini-tour to Montreal and Burlington (Montreal in January--let's go!) and We'll be touring from January 8th-11th. More information on the concert schedule and individual concert dates will be posted on the Facebook page. There will be periodic updates throughout tour on our daily activities, complete with photos and videos. (And this time, I promise not to lose my camera!) In the mean time, stay tuned for more information, and Happy Holidays everyone!

With Glove,
Victoria Pierre