Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Game

Below, officers Elaine Sullivan, Danny Townsend, and Dan Schechner '10 describe the annual Glee Club-YPMB football game--in which the Glee Club was, of course, victorious.

The 15th of November, 2009 will go down in history as the third consecutive Glee Club win against the YPMB in the annual football showdown. Members from all years and sections of the 149th Glee Club (except for sopranos) destroyed the Yale Precision Marching Band in football, 5 – 2, in what was the shortest and perhaps most deadly rampage in the age-old conflict between forces of Glee and forces of YPMB.

Led by the 2009 YGC-YPMB Football Captains Sarah Dewey, Dan Schechner, Derek Tam and Rachel Wilf, the team never let the YPMB lead. Quarterbacks Rob Williams and Peter Clune overcame the challenge of low-lying branches to deliver beautifully spiraling footballs arcing through the air and landing in the receiver’s hands.

A special shout-out to the YGC Alto Section, whose members (Miriam, Elaine, Phyllis, and Mary as well as Captains Sarah Dewey and Rachel Wilf) marched, marched on down the field, and who had to sing soprano at our closing rendition of BCY as there were...no sopranos. Elaine also caught a beautiful pass in the end zone for the final touchdown, securing the win (the captains had previously agreed to play to 5 touchdowns or 4:00pm, a new agreement since last year the game lasted past sunset).

The sons of Eli spanned both tenor and bass sections, with Sam, Atid, Jacob, Dylan, and Danny receiving, blocking, and occasionally leading cheers from the sidelines, including one of “we have talent.” Later, chants of “put the girls in” from the Glee Club side could be heard, and the captains used the unusual strategy of putting every Glee Club woman (i.e. alto) present on the field. Because the offensive team was in charge of deciding the ratio of men to women on the field, the Glee Club’s choice of two men and five women proved fatal to the YPMB, who switched the ratio whenever they had a chance.

At rehearsal the next day, Jeff explained, “for my first years here, the Glee Club never won this game.” We lost so much, he said, that is had become a joke. But no longer! With our three-peat win we have shown that our mastery of the football medley in rehearsal translates to a mastery of the game on the field.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet the Officers!

The 149th Glee Club is off to a great start! We welcomed 34 wonderful new members, began rehearsals, and went on a fantastic retreat in northwestern Connecticut. Since not everyone could make it to retreat, this year’s Officer Corps (the group’s student leaders) wanted to virtually introduce ourselves and show that as much as we love Glee Club, there’s more to who we are than our YGC responsibilities.

President – Danny Townsend CC ‘10

Danny Townsend is a senior in Calhoun, majoring in Ethics, Politics, and Economics. Outside of the Glee Club, Danny is a Senior Fellow for the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and a Yale Tour Guide. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he is an unfortunately poor skier. His favorite bird of prey is the Peregrine Falcon.

Manager – Mary Schnoor CC ‘10

Mary Schnoor is a Calhoun senior from Brookline, MA. She's majoring in Chemical Engineering and Classics, which is convenient because they're right next to each other in the Blue Book. Aside from singing Alto II in the Glee Club, she spends her time using carbon nanotubes to filter viruses out of water. Mary does not have a favorite bird of prey; she preys on birds. Especially puffins.

Stage Manager – Dan Schechner MC ‘10

Dan is a senior in Morse College from the great state of New Jersey (Exit 142!) He wishes that the Glee Club wardrobe came with pocket watches. Outside of the Glee Club at Yale, he's involved in student government, freshmen outdoor orientation trips, club Ultimate Frisbee, and slam poetry. After college, he hopes to work in the renewable energy sector.

Fun Fact: He once broke his ankle during a World War I re-enactment in high school.

Social Chairs – Virginia Calkins PC ’10 and Elaine Sullivan PC ‘10

Virginia is a senior in PIERSON hailing from the great state of Michigan (Hail to the Victors!)! She is a proud Alto 2, a section represented very well on the Officer Corps. She enjoys playing Frisbee both with the women's club team and with the Glee Club at various events. Most nights you can find VA meandering about the architecture studio.

Elaine Sullivan is one of the Social Chairs, sharing her position with Virginia (the two met on FOOT even before arriving at Yale). She is a senior English and Art History double major in Pierson College from Berkeley, California. Outside of Glee Club she devotes a lot of time to writing poetry, looking at and talking about art, and making Pierson College the best college at Yale (clearly, it is already the most social, since both social chairs are Piersonites). She was also Glee Club social chair in 07-08, prompting the campaign slogan "Grover Cleveland and Elaine Sullivan: the two non-consecutive greats."

Publicity Chair – Jenny Witthuhn TC ‘12

Jenny is a Trumbull sophomore from New York majoring in Psychology. She holds the esteemed position of Publicity Manager, keeping the wheels of the YGC turning in our recruitment season, and keeping us well-known around campus…and the world. Outside of Glee Club, Jenny is a Yale Tour Guide and involved with research on absolute pitch. Currently, her favorite German word is der Kugelschreiber, aka the most ridiculous-sounding way to say “ballpoint pen.”

Archivist – Sam Sanders CC ‘12

Sam is a sophomore from Maryland in Calhoun College. The sassiest archivist the Glee Club has ever seen, she keeps YGC-ers and their sheet music in order. She also belongs to New Blue, Yale's oldest all-female a cappella group, where she serves as a Rush Manager. Sam enjoys astrophysics, feminism, dancing--especially the Argentine Tango, and chocolate.

Wardrobe Manager – Anna Swan CC ‘10

Anna Swan is a senior Psychology major in Calhoun College. She hails from Charleston, SC. When not singing as a second soprano in the Glee Club, Anna enjoys leading performances with Yale Children's Theater and assisting with research about the effects of emotion regulation on generalized anxiety disorder. Her favorite bird of prey is the osprey.

Domestic Tour Managers – Emily Howell CC ’11 and Molly Perkins SM ‘10

Emily “Stealth” Claire Howell, a junior English major from Virginia, loves Glee Club, Alto 2s, Calhoun, and playing “Eyes.” On the other hand, she dislikes soda, long lines, and people who dislike kittens. She hates cauliflower with all her heart, but she doesn’t mind broccoli in some contexts. Emily plays an awesome bishop from the Pwincess Bwide, and she is deeply interested in zoos. Don’t worry, she likes you.

Molly Perkins is a senior Anthropology major in Silliman College who hails from Palos Verdes Estates, California. In addition to her devotion to the YGC, she is also a member of Taps, Yale's only tap-dancing dance group. If she had a sandwich named after her, it would be a BLT. With avocado.

Mini-Tour Managers – Kate Carter SM ’12 and Claire Paulson DC ‘12

Kathleen “Kate” Alicia Carter, an Alto 2 from Iowa, is a sophomore English major in Silliman. She plays clarinet in the Yale Precision Marching Band, which throws her into an agonizing conflict of interest at the annual YGC-YPMB touch-football game. Kate likes wearing her hair in braids, kittens, Alto 2s, belting “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” chocolate, sleeping, tomatoes, Hendrie Hall, and playing “Eyes.” (We hope those aren’t all the things she likes, but are too afraid to ask her.) She’s starting Swahili this year.

Claire Paulson is a sophomore in Davenport from Iowa City, Iowa. She plans to major in Cognitive Science with a focus on the relationship between language and music. Besides Glee Club, her main extracurricular activities are directing Magevet, Yale's "first, best, and only" Jewish, Hebrew, and Israeli a cappella group, and playing the piano.

Outreach Chair – Phyllis Thangaraj JE ‘11

Phyllis is a junior in Jonathan Edwards College from Leonardo, NJ who plans to major in Physics. When she's not singing with her favorite people, YGCers, she's either singing in OTYC productions or other choirs, or teaching middle schoolers science through DEMOS. She wishes she could live off chocolate and watching Project Runway. Her favorite animal is her black and white cat, Sweetie. She can't wait to get to know all of the new members!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Photographic Look at Tour: Brazil

A few pictures from our recent time in Brazil.


Overlooking the beach in Copacabana from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.

A snapshot taken during our drive from Rio to Campinas.

The famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.


In rehearsal with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra and conductor Roberto Minczuk.


A view from atop Corcovado Mountain.

Glee Clubbers and members of the children's choir from the Cidade de Deus before our joint concert.

A view of the beach in the evening.

Friday, July 3, 2009

2009 Summer Tour Reflections: The Creation

Below, Dylan Morris '11 shares his memories of performing Haydn's Creation with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra.


When YGC director Jeff Douma outlined the schedule for our South American tour, I was excited to learn that, in addition to performing our “tour repertoire” of a cappella and choral-piano pieces, we would be reprising all of the large choral-orchestral pieces we had learned and performed during the year: Brahms’s Nänie, two short pieces by Mendelssohn, and Haydn’s Creation oratorio. We would be performing The Creation in Rio de Janeiro with the professional Brazil Symphony Orchestra.

Before a typical tour concert, the YGC will arrive at the venue the afternoon before the show, and rehearse our a cappella repertoire in the space to get a feel for its particular acoustical quirks and challenges. Putting on a large-scale piece like the Creation meant a different kind of tour schedule; in addition to afternoon concerts and outreach, we now had morning rehearsals with the BSO.

At the rehearsals, we worked with the BSO and its conductor, Roberto Minczuk, becoming attuned the orchestra’s playing and Minczuk’s conducting. We also met the soloists for the oratorio, including a jovial bass with an appropriately booming laugh and a young tenor (only a year or two older than some YGCers) whose Met-bound voice left a big impression. By the time we lined up to go on stage for the first of our two performances, I felt confident that we — the YGC, the BSO, and the soloists — had begun to develop a unified sound. The crowd in the Candelaria Church spilled into the aisles, and more listeners stood in rows in the back. The concert went well, and I began thinking ahead to the next night.

We would have had excuses if our energy level had dropped during the second performance. The audience was likely to be smaller, we had lost an usually large number of singers to illness, and the Creation was beginning to feel fairly familiar. Haydn was stuck in everyone’s head. If you listened closely while walking through the hotel, you might have heard a few bars of a movement — “Awake the Harp” or “The Heavens are Telling” — coming through the air ducts of our hotel.

Our energy did not drop. The audience was just as large, several sick YGCers returned to the singing ranks, and we got one last boost in the minutes before the concert. We were assembled in our dressing room getting some last minute tips from Jeff when he said to us: “Maria and the kids from the Cidade de Deus are here.”

Emily Howell has already blogged about our outreach concert with the choir from the “City of God.” Our experience with the choir had been one of the most moving moments of tour. Their unexpected appearance at the Creation concert was equally memorable. As we filed on stage, we could see them sitting on the floor in the aisle, right at the very front. Though some of them were under 10 years old, they happily sat through the nearly three-hour oratorio. Afterward, I thought to myself that the Creation might be a pretty good piece to introduce young children to art music; it is exciting, dramatic, and playful.

After the concert, the kids came to meet us and congratulate us. They had even made us cards. The 13-year-old choir member I’d met at dinner after the outreach concert delivered me a card. I thanked her, and, still worried that the long concert had bored her, asked her in a broken combination of English, Portuguese, and sign language what her favorite part had been. “Tudo” (all of it), she said.

We would have liked to spend even more time with the choir, but we had to return to our hotel. The choir stood on the steps of the church and waved to us as we boarded. Smiling, we waved back through the windows as the bus pulled away from the curb.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 Summer Tour Reflections: Wrapping Up

A poetic look at the end of tour from rising sophomore Julia Myers.

Having sung for the young girls who gave a standing ovation after every song, for the vast audience spilling into the aisles for the Creation, and for the elderly woman who kissed my cheeks with tears in her eyes, repeating “Obrigada” over and over in my ear and so many other things I only wish I could understand, I found myself sitting on the bus back to New Haven with a very heavy feeling. I couldn’t begin to imagine how a group that had just sung Bright College Years in an ill-formed circle at the baggage claim could be dispersing all around the world. But then I settled on what I remembered best about Rio, this one moment when I looked out of the bus window and saw along the shore a line of white ships poised on the glassy water. Their maiden names once painted in blood red were chipped and faded from the burning sunlight…the waves lapped up against their sides like rivulets of cool relief and when they fell away the wood gleamed with newfound heat. Their bows were securely lodged in the copper sand, but their sails stretched out to some other place. The image compelled me to write as the tour came to a close, “I cannot believe I have come so far through such a beautiful country only to have reached the end of the journey...” I thought of us parting ways to go and serve others or to further our own passions, and to hopefully also find a bit of ourselves along the way. “…and the start of another.”

And now, sitting here and writing this on a humid Friday afternoon in New Haven, with a film script beside me and the spirit of adventure in the air (please see the movie Up), having come together with people I have never met before to capture beautiful moments on film, I realize that this is exactly where all of us probably are.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009 Summer Tour Reflections: Campinas

Below, Cynthia Weaver '12 talks about our days in Campinas, Brazil. 

After a scenic 9-hour bus ride filled with song, mischief and sleep, the Glee Club arrived in Campinas, home of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, or Unicamp for short. On our first day in Campinas, we gave a concert at Unicamp to a small but enthusiastic audience. After a lunch in the university dining hall, we headed to rehearsal. That evening, the Glee Club enjoyed an American-style pizza dinner with some music students from the university. It was great to get to talk with some local music students, many of whom hope to eventually study music in the United States.

            The next morning was a free morning, so the Glee Club enjoyed an evening of socializing. After our afternoon rehearsals and some free time at the mall due to drizzly weather, we headed to our evening concert at Igreja Católica Santa Rita de Cássia. The concert was a collaboration with the Unicamp Symphony Orchestra and two local soloists. Our program included pieces by Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Haydn. Over the tour, we were able to fine-tune Haydn’s Creation to a level of familiarity and mastery which choirs are not often able to establish with their repertoire. There couldn’t have been a more fantastic way to wrap up our 2009 international tour than by singing The Creation one last time. It was a successful concert with great attendance. After a reception and a night in the hotels, we packed up our things and boarded the buses for São Paulo.

2009 Summer Tour Reflections: Outreach

In this post, rising junior Emily Howell details our amazing outreach activities with the children's choir from the Cidade de Deus, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. 

Our outreach with the children’s choir Grupo Vozes da Cidade de Deus, from the Casa de Santa Ana—Cidade de Deus is the City of God slum (favela) in Rio de Janeiro, featured in the movie The City of God—was, for me at least, the most amazing part of an amazing tour.  We didn’t go into the dangerous favela, but instead met the children at the Escola SESC, where they performed for us and we for them.  The students, who learn various dancing and rhythmic activities from a young age before they join the choir, demonstrated activities from ballet to samba dancing.  They even encouraged us to join them in the samba, and kindly didn’t laugh at us (too much, anyway) when we tried to dance along.

We sang  “This Little Light of Mine” from our tour repertoire together after Jeff taught them the words and the melody.  We also sang “Muie Rendera,” part of our repertoire and a traditional Brazilian folk song, together with the kids.  Then came the concert, which was actually a joint one—first several groups of students danced and sang for us.  Our performance was preceded backstage by a stirring pep talk from our very own Dylan Morris, who urged us (more eloquently than I’m summarizing) to take this small concert for the kids as seriously as any other. Dylan explained that he was initially skeptical about this outreach, wondering what good we could really do for children who grow up in the midst of gang violence and poverty by singing for them.  But, he told us, this was more than that.  Giving them not only our music but also our respect can do more than we realize.

Dinner was the best part of the day, as well as the part that required the most ingenuity.  We went to a pizza restaurant with the kids, many of whom spoke no English; Steph Strauss, as our sole Portuguese speaker, was in high demand.  I was sitting with Sarah Dewey and Kate Carter, forming a triangle of French students. I’d been nervous about the dinner, afraid that our complete lack of shared language skills would leave us at an impasse.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Instead of focusing on the basics of introduction—did you like the concert?  Do you like school?  Can you believe how much pizza I’ve eaten?—we got right to the important stuff: the games.  Deciding that art would have to be our main avenue of communication, Sarah began a beautiful napkin drawing, to which the kids all contributed, and I produced several paper cranes, the only origami trick I know.  Kate’s paper airplanes were also a huge hit, as they started flying between tables in our area (to be honest, we actually enjoyed this more than the kids).

Of course, the funny thing about outreach is that the ones who are supposed to be doing the reaching out learn at least as much, and get at least as much out of it, as the ones they’re supposed to be helping.  Yes, it’s cliché to say so, but maybe it’s cliché because it’s the truth.  Either way, I think it’s something Glee Club was extremely aware of on June 4th.

When, two days later, Maria (the incredible woman who leads the school) brought some of the Grupo Vozes kids to our second concert of Haydn’s Creation, there were smiles, hugs, even tears.  Many of them wore the Yale hats and Glee Club polos they’d received at the concert the other day, and one of my new friends from dinner still clutched a paper crane in her hand.  We waved goodbye as the buses pulled away, and they waved back.

            I still have a napkin from dinner.  The drawing on it features a tree, a cat, a dog, a bird, and three smiling girls, and, in an elementary school girl’s handwriting (bubble letters!), the words “Animal,” “Feliz,” and “Amor.”


Emily, Kate Carter, and Sarah Dewey at dinner with girls from the Grupo Vozes da Cidade de Deus.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Photographic Look at Tour: Argentina

Here are some pictures from the Argentina leg of our recent South American tour. 

A scene from the tango show we saw on our last night in Buenos Aires.

A snapshot of the colorful Argentinean neighborhood of La Boca. 

The 148th Glee Club at the Santa Susana Ranch in Buenos Aires.

Glee Clubbers horseback riding at the ranch.

Gauchos perform at the ranch. If a gaucho snatched a ring (pictured), he gave it to a lucky Glee Club lady in exchange for a kiss.

Cathedral in La Plata, the capital of the province of Buenos Aires.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Summer Tour Reflections: Outreach

In this post, rising sophomore Ben Robbins talks more in-depth about our outreach concert at a Buenos Aires school.

On our first full day in Buenos Aires, we performed an outreach concert at the Colegio del Buen Consejo, a private girls school near La Boca, one of the slums of the area.  We sang our tour repertoire for nearly 250 girls, ages 5--18, in the chapel of the school.  They responded with a lot of enthusiasm, especially to our native Colombian Andres Torres '09, who was translating for Jeff.  After the concert we didn't get to talk much to the girls (the H1N1 outbreak and our group's poor overall level of health made people uneasy) but the director of the school was very appreciative of our visit and performance.  She emphasized the importance of music in the education of the girls, all of whom are from poor families and are sponsored to attend the school.  She explained that music is integrated into the rest of the curriculum so that they can learn a skill to be proud of, while making huge gains intellectually.  It was a fun concert overall and a great start to tour.  The "Power of Song," as the title of our potential documentary seems to be, seemed very apparent in that school building as we could see the girls at the second floor windows, overlooking the barbed-wire-topped walls around the school, waving goodbye to our buses as we pulled away.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2009 Summer Tour Reflections: Buenos Aires

The Glee Club just got back from an amazing South American tour to Argentina and Brazil. Below, rising senior Sarah Dewey looks back at our time in Buenos Aires, our first stop. 

"Buenos Aires Capital City" was, as advertised, the Paris of South America, a fact evidenced superficially by the couture and the locals' affinity for their dogs; however, it was clear that here was a city and a nation with great spirit and an easygoing attitude. All of this was visible in the graffiti we passed in each South American city: in Buenos Aires, flights of fancy and colorful characters; scrawled initials in Rio, and in Campinas a kind of cramped Portuguese futhark that covered the struts of every building. Argentineans express themselves in a way that only Argentineans can, as we soon found out when our buses rushed from stop to stop before an organized protest could clog the city streets near the Plaza del Mayo and impede our progress to the hotel.

Appropriately, we started off our tour with a pilgrimage to Eva Peron's grave, and visited also the La Boca neighborhood. La Boca is a barrio divided into extremely touristy and extremely impoverished areas, with its charming brightly-colored corrugated tin buildings catering to the romantic imaginations of travelers, and its slums next to Rio de la Plata serving as a reminder that all throughout South America, YGC would encounter such surprising juxtapositions. We wondered what this abstract "power of song" could possibly do for the people of this continent, rich and poor alike. Why was there a cameraman with us documenting every moment, every arm wrestling battle, and every jubilant chorus in the streets of whatever city we descended upon? We received our first answer when we gave a concert at the Colegio del Buen Consejo, an all-girls’ school, and found our biggest fans. The little girls used the prayer benches in their academy's nave to great effect, standing on them and giving thunderous applause. It was an excellent reception to the country and a reassuring moment for everyone when they greeted us with enthusiasm.

Eager to try out our classroom Spanish in practical settings, many of us soon felt meekly resigned to the basics of menu Spanish, namely "empanada carne" and "agua con gas"--the power of song, it seems (ah, the relief!), is that music really is the most universal language. It was with this, the enumerated of our innumerable epiphanies about foreign travel and our odd sort of statesmanship, that we met Nestor Zadoff, a leading Argentinean choral conductor. While his name evoked delightful memories of the grandiose "Zadok the Priest", the man himself was amazingly humble, friendly, and overall charming. While music was the universal language for the duration of our workshop on Astor Piazzolla’s tango arrangement, “Adios Nonino.” Zadoff also proved fluent in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English, language skills which greatly aided everyone in understanding and led to not a few chuckles as our translators got cheeky or the Francophones in the group suddenly got a chance to feel smug in a linguistically hostile continent. Zadoff teased out the subtleties of the piece, explaining to us its meaning as well as showing where we should emphasize certain aspects of the tango style. He could hear colors in the notes that were foreign to us, because the piece was written by his countryman with a musical attitude purely Argentinean. As much as song is international, it became clear from this workshop that music requires incredible cultural intuition to properly perform, and that merely perfecting one's diction on a rolled "r" is not going to accurately represent great music. Zadoff taught us all of those things without saying them, and gave us his director's comments with such good humor that the hour-long workshop flew by and we quite regretted not having more time to work with him. Our performance of the piece had clearly greatly improved, and we couldn't wait to debut it the next night, hoping to wow the crowd with tango v2.0.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The 1941 South American Tour, Part 3

Local reaction to the 1941 Glee Club was everywhere overwhelming. Reading Bartholomew's descriptions, it is hard not to be impressed by the continuous enthusiasm of students and audiences. American folk music was especially well received. “Many of them were not aware,” Barty wrote, “that we had any.” The spirituals on the program were often encored; audiences would not let the concert continue until they were repeated.

But this tour was about more than simply choral music. Barty and the Glee Club made great efforts to encourage choral music in South America. Singing, for him, was advocacy for greater cultural interchange between the Americas. Moreover, he saw the importance of musical relationships among universities, and of exchange programs: "These ... students," he wrote, "will dominate the thought and action of the Latin American world for the next forty years."

Many things have changed in the past seven deacdes; some of the problems that the 1941 Glee Club faced are no longer relevant, and we in turn have new concerns to deal with. But over all, the descriptions of that tour sound very familiar to current members. And the most essential thing remains identical: a belief in the value and power of choral music. As Barty put it:
“Wherever students have been brought together through the friendly medium of singing, they discover the simplest, the most direct and the most effective power on earth for the promotion of understanding and good will."
As we leave for South America today, we believe these words are as true now as they were 68 years ago, and we lift our voices, as they did:

Oh the anchors are weighed and the sails they are set
. Away to Rio!

-Raymond Nagem CC '09

The 1941 South American Tour, Part 2

After their whirlwind stay in Brazil, the Glee Club of 1941 continued south, singing three concerts in Montevideo and five in Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, they sang a joint concert at the Instituto Nacional de Education Fisica, which had specially formed and organized a chorus for the occasion.

In La Plata, Argentina, their visit had a particularly notable consequence: the founding of the Coro Juvenil at the University of La Plata, which still exists today. The 2009 Glee Club will be privileged to collaborate with the Coro Juvenil during our own visit to La Plata, continuing the tradition of friendship through song.

Leaving Mendoza, Argentina, the 1941 Glee Club had to cross the Andes to Santiago de Chile – in the middle of winter. This episode is best described in Marshall Bartholomew’s own words:
The ride in private motors from Mendoza to Puenta des Vacas at the Chilean border in the high Andes was made hideous by the wild driving of chauffeurs who insisted upon driving at the highest possible speed on precipitous mountain roads, passing each other with inches to spare and taking every possible chance on accidents. Neither threat nor plea could persuade them to modify this hair-raising pace with the result that what might have been a scenic drive of rare beauty remains in the memory as a nightmare.
The train through the mountain pass was, if possible, worse. Barty continued:
The inadequacy of the railroad station at Puenta des Vacas is, under the circumstances, a menace. Standing at an elevation of almost ten thousand feet the waiting room of the tiny building can contain at the utmost about fifty passengers. There were approximately two hundred … on the day the Yale Glee Club went through the pass; 75% of them were compelled to stand outdoors in a near-zero temperature for two hours waiting for the train to arrive.

Then followed a twelve hour train ride in acute discomfort in a train so crowded that some passengers had to stand up throughout the entire journey. In forty years of travel throughout the world my memories of this journey stand out as one of the most completely miserable.
Two days later a snow storm closed all transportation on this route for ten days.
When the Glee Club reached Santiago, 16 out of 63 singers – a quarter of the group – were out of action. Fortunately, none of the illnesses were serious, and almost everyone recovered for the scheduled concerts in Santiago. In contrast to the extreme cold of the Andes, Barty found Panama City in August “probably … as hot a place to sing a concert in dress suits as one could find in the world.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

The 1941 South American Tour, Part 1

As we in the 2009 Yale Glee Club prepare for our international tour to Argentina and Brazil, it is fitting to look back on the group’s first visit to South America, in 1941, which was a seminal tour in many ways. Marshall Bartholomew, the Glee Club’s director from 1921-1953, left a vivid and detailed report, which brings the events of 68 years ago to life.

Barty spent the summer of 1940 visiting South America, touring cities and universities and assessing the prospects for a South American tour. He found a great deal of enthusiasm – “an ardent wish … of the universities to organize singing among their students and to establish a singing tradition” – but few university choral groups.

The 1941 tour, therefore, had at its core a mission of outreach. The Glee Club was the first university choir to tour in South America, and its members represented not just themselves, nor even Yale, but American music, and their country. In visits to, and collaborations with, local universities, they served as ambassadors of choral singing and goodwill.

In those days before jet planes, the group spent 36 out of 53 days on board ship. From New York, they traveled to Rio de Janeiro for three days, then to Montevideo and Buenos Aires. After 8 days in Argentina, they crossed the Andes into Chile, visiting Santiago and Valparaiso. From there they sang in Lima and Pamana City before passing though the Panama Canal and returning to New York.

The Glee Club kept up a brutal schedule, with 27 concerts in 21 days ashore. Their repertoire contained 63 pieces, all sung from memory, and perfected during twice-daily rehearsals for 11 consecutive days on board ship.

Rio was a logistical nightmare, because an intransigent shipping line refused to allow them to stay over and catch the next ship to Montevideo. Instead, they had to cram five concerts into three days. Moreover, the SS Brazil arrived late into port, and the Glee Club rushed to the concert hall by special car transport, arriving half an hour late to a packed theater. To reach São Paulo, they had to charter a special sleeping car and a 2 AM return train. This was not luxury travel: “sanitary conditions in the kitchen were sufficient to rob finicky passengers of their appetite.”

However, the reception of audiences and students in Brazil was phenomenal. When the Glee Club sang the Brazilian national anthem in Portuguese, they created what Bartholomew laconically called “a moment of considerable emotion.” According to the Diario de Noticias, the ovation lasted for ten minutes. Of their visit to São Paulo, Barty wrote that he had “seldom witnessed a more boisterous and sincere demonstration of enthusiasm and friendship anywhere.”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2009 Winter Tour Blog Finale: San Francisco

Below, Calhoun Sophomore and YGC Social Chair Emily Howell details the last few days of tour - our final concert, free time in San Francisco, our tour banquet, and the journey home.

Day Six (Wednesday January 7th) and Day Seven (Thursday January 8th): Top Ten YGC Activities to do in San Francisco (arranged chronologically)

10. Admire Grace Cathedral. For those who, like me before this trip, haven’t heard of Grace Cathedral, it’s an Episcopal cathedral that’s one of the pride and joys of the West Coast. (Confirmed by multiple homestays.) After our free time, walking back to our rehearsal call, I come to the top of a hill, see Grace Cathedral for the first time in full view and exclaim, “Is that where we’re singing?”

9. Sing with the International Orange Chorale. The group, directed by Jeremy Faust, shares Wednesday’s concert. We perform almost our full repertoire, the IOC performs about ten minutes worth of beautiful music, and the two choirs sing three pieces together (Georgia Stitt’s “De Profundis,” Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia,” and Gerald Finzi’s “God is gone up”), with the result that the concert is almost as epically long as this blog post.

8. Sing to a packed cathedral. Seriously!

7. Revisit middle school. On Thursday, we travel to a middle school for an outreach workshop coordinated by our wonderful Outreach Chair, Virginia Calkins. We sing for a group of the students, they for us, and then we enjoy splitting into small groups and teaching them part of “This Little Light of Mine” from our tour repertoire. We also discuss, briefly, college life, middle school academics, and their favorite ice cream flavors.

6. Free time. In-N-Out Burger, the Embarcadero area, dim sum, sea lions, and the Golden Gate Bridge are favorites.

5. Banquet. As is traditional, at the end of Tour, the whole Glee Club and our esteemed conductors collect in a hotel conference room for a delicious catered meal and various presentations of gratitude and affection—not to mention, to enjoy Committee—see below.

4. Sing the Salvation Army song. Also known as the Mory’s Song or “It’s,” this tune, which begins with “It’s (name), it’s (name), it’s (name) makes the world go ‘round,” is sung by the Glee Club often throughout the year to thank anyone and everyone who deserves our congratulations and/or gratitude. The night’s recipients include YGC officers, Jeff, and of course our fantastic tour managers, Mary and Sarah.

3. Laugh at ourselves. Committee is a Tour tradition that features twelve secretly chosen YGCers, whose identities until the banquet are known only by the President and Manager. Their job: to keep eyes and ears open for silly, incriminating, or hilarious stories, remarks, or personality traits. Their mission: to present a sketch filled with good-natured mocking of everyone present—literally everyone, including certain authority figures who might also conduct us.

2. Speak in hushed voices. Anyone who knows us knows that we’re never troublesome, but we’re also large and find it difficult to contain our merriment to a hotel-friendly decibel level. Still, we manage to keep the noise level down and the party going until early morning hours, because this, my friends, is the final night of tour.

1. Spend time with Glee Clubbers. This may be cheating, because it’s the first-choice activity wherever we are, but that’s what the Glee Club is. Our friendship is a part of who we are as a unit, and it’s what makes us so much more than a choir.

Day Eight (Friday January 9th): The Return, the Reflection

The great thing about YGC Winter Tour is that it falls in a magical, suspended time between semesters. Most people don’t have classes or homework to worry about, and while we all know we should be applying for summer jobs and internships right about now, for the majority of glee clubbers, summer is still a thought on the distant horizon. Most of the thousand and one term-time concerns that constantly buzz around in our brains are absent. These ten days are devoted to getting to know each other, to strengthening old friendships and forging new ones, set against the backdrop of travel, exploration, and, of course, song.

But like all magical, suspended times, Tour must come to an end. And so it will in a matter of hours, as I write this from the plane from San Francisco back to JFK, back to my own coast and to school and to dorms and suitemates and drawers and laundry. But not yet. Right now we have to pass notes on the plane, ignore the in-flight movie (which is the same one that played on the way to Seattle), and irk the patient flight attendants with our inability to stay seated and away from each other. The San Francisco concert made me realize how our voices have locked in to the group sound, how our grasp of the repertoire and our ability to sing as a community developed over tour. In the same way, the difference between this plane ride and the one to Seattle make me realize what has happened on tour to our bond as a group of friends.

Day Nine (Saturday January 10th): Epilogue


“Finally, it is a Yale Glee Club tradition” to gather outside Hendrie Hall when we return from trips—no matter the hour—and sing BCY (“Bright College Years”), our beloved alma mater. For the handkerchief-waving part of the song, anything at hand will suffice: items of clothing, cell phones, any piece of paper in your pocket, even a handkerchief; our enthusiasm makes up for our ragged voices. I check the time on my cell phone—1:58 am EST—YGC’s 2009 Winter Tour is officially complete. See you in rehearsal!

- Emily Howell, CC '11, YGC Social Chair

2009 Winter Tour Blog, Day 5: Chico, CA

California native and Trumbull Freshman Cynthia Weaver describes the journey from Eugene to Chico and our concert that evening.

5:45 AM- Wake up, tired from staying up chatting and playing board games with five other glee girls. Answer emails, take a shower, and wonder what I’ll do for the six hours on the glee bus that we have to do today.

7 AM- Packing, Breakfast, our host made us a giant Dutch Baby pancake. Playing with our host’s two daughters, ages 3 and 6. Adorable... makes me want to drop out of Yale to have kids. Or maybe not.

8:41 AM- This bus is the awesome bus (says Casey). As of now everyone is pretty much sleeping. Somehow our projected travel time morphed from 6 hours to 8 hours. So we’ll see. I’m going to try to catch some shut-eye now, too. We’re going to start watching movies at 9 AM, but I’ll probably be asleep by then.

10:15 AM- Casey woke me up at the rest stop... not that I’m bitter or anything. It’s rather cold this morning. We are apparently still in Oregon. I’m going back to sleep.

Noon- We stopped in Southern Oregon for lunch. Most of us headed to the local Albertsons and created our smorgasbord of random lunch-ish type items. We’re apparently going to reach California (yay! my home state!) in about an hour? I’m going back to sleep now.

1:15 PM- We enter California. It’s funny how the scenery immediately changes once we get into the CA mountains. Everyone from the East Coast is really excited to be in CA, and someone started playing the song California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas. A really pretty drive, and we’ve only got a few hours left until Chico.

4:13 PM- I was woken from my nap by the sound of cheers and clapping- We’ve arrived in Chico. The bus ride didn’t seem too bad- we kept ourselves entertained pretty well. We’re going to have rehearsal once we get to the church. By now we’ve gotten the routine down, because this is our fifth concert in five days.

6:33 PM- We just got finished with our rehearsal and dinner. The church where we’re performing tonight is really nice. Unfortunately, our group has taken a bit of a hit from a nasty cold going around (aka Glee Coli or GleeBola), but we’re doing the best we can and luckily everyone is really strong on their individual parts, so the music as a whole doesn’t seem to be suffering.

10:40 PM- We had a great concert! The audience was amazing... we got a total of five standing ovations- pretty incredible. The church was packed and the audience was really enthusiastic and responsive to every song. We all went off to our homestays, and now we’re going to sleep because tomorrow is another early morning, and we’re driving to San Francisco! Yay!

-Cynthia Weaver, TC '12

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 Winter Tour Blog, Day 4: Eugene, Oregon

Below, Sophomore Dylan Morris gives his account of our fourth day of tour.

One YGCer’s Day in Eugene:

6:45am: The YGC wakes up early for the 8:00am bus to Eugene. We’re aiming to arrive midmorning; our director Jeffrey Douma is scheduled to teach a master class at the University of Oregon. We thank our Portland hosts and head to meet the bus.

~8:30am: The Glee Club buses roll out of Portland. Several Glee-ple on my (quiet) bus catch a few extra Zs.

10:45am: The YGC arrives in Eugene, Oregon, home of the University of Oregon Ducks. As a former high school cross country runner, I am excited when I spot Hayward Field, the fabled University track and field venue and the site of this past year’s Olympic Trials.

While Jeff is teaching his class, the members of the YGC have a chance to explore the city. YGCers disembark and head off in packs. Fellow YGCer Mari Oye ’11 and I decide to take a running tour of the city that bills itself as Tracktown, U.S.A.

11am-3pm: The YGC explores Eugene. One group visits a vintage car dealership, another starts up a game of Ultimate Frisbee on the U of O campus. Mari and I start our running tour from Hayward Field and head up to “Pre’s Rock,” a memorial at the site of the car crash that killed 24-year-old Olympian runner and former University of Oregon star Steve Prefontaine. From there, we circle through beautiful Hendricks Park, a hilltop rhododendron garden. Then it’s down to the banks of Willamette River, where we pick up “Pre’s Trail,” yet another Prefontaine memorial, this one in the form of nearly five miles of beautiful soft bark trails traversing Alton Baker Park. Finally, we return to Hayward Field to try a lap on the famous track. Hungry after the running tour, we grab lunch at a Mediterranean sandwich shop on campus and then join the Frisbee players for a few points. At last, 3pm approaches and we walk to the newly renovated Beall Hall, the site of the night’s concert.

3pm-5:30pm: The YGC rehearses in Beall Hall. The acoustics are excellent and, with Jeff’s guidance, we begin to get sense of the space and how to perform in it. A crazy-but-brilliant scheme to relay Jeff’s conducting to YCGer and organist Ray Nagem ’09 via YGC president and conducting student Casey Klippel succeeds with flying colors, but unfortunately the Baroque tuning of the organ means that it cannot render Gerald Finzi’s “God is Gone Up” as it was intended to be heard. Instead, we will wait, and perform the Finzi in San Francisco at Grace Cathedral. At around 5:30, we wrap up a very productive rehearsal and follow our tour managers Mary Schnoor ’10 and Sarah Dewey ’10 to the dining hall where we’ll be eating.

5:30pm-6:30pm: Dinner at the U of O. The food is good and so is the conversation, as YGCers fill each other in on their pre-rehearsal activities in Eugene.

6:30pm-7:45pm: We truck back over to Beall, get changed for the concert, and start warming up.

7:50pm: Senior Joel Knopf delivers a sincere and eloquent “pep talk,” calling upon us to sing our best. Casey Klippel and Justin Jee ’10 add a comic talk to keep us relaxed.

7:55pm: Under the direction of stage manager Sam Reinhardt ’10, the YGC lines up in performance formation and files into the lobby outside concert hall.

8pm-10pm: Showtime! We run down the aisles and onto the stage and sing “Gaudeamus Igitur,” our traditional opening song. Jeff introduces our first set of songs, and we begin Edvard Grieg’s “Ave Maris Stella.” Undergraduate assistant conductor Max Blum ’09 (rejoining the Glee Club after a stint touring with his a cappella group) directs us as we sing Rachmaninoff’s “Bogorodiste Djevo.”

A highlight of the first half of the concert is the moment silence in the audience after the quietly dramatic ending of Christian Grases’ “Amanacer.” As Jeff lowers his hands, they begin to applaud, and we run off for intermission.

At intermission, Cynthia Weaver ’12 keeps us loose with a funny pep talk. We grab our “Yale gear” to wear during the Football Medley, Sam gets us organized, and we run on for the second half.

We begin the second half of the concert with the playful Brazilian folk song “Muié Rendera.” The tenors and bases get to play the part of a brash and overconfident suitor, and we’re only too happy to oblige. Next are two songs that represent a change of pace for the SATB YGC: an all-female arrangement of the spiritual “At the River” (accompanied by Neena Satija ’11 on piano) and an all-male arrangement of the traditional American folk song Shenandoah created by early 20th century YGC director Marshall Bartholomew for his Glee Clubs. Bartholomew’s arrangement is wonderful to sing. In some parts, it is soft and plaintive; in others, it is dramatic and expressive. We follow it up with a beautiful arrangement of “All the Pretty Little Horses” done by our current director. My favorite part of the arrangement comes, as luck would have it, at a moment when I’m not singing, so I get to listen and enjoy it. The men are silent as the women sing “way down yonder,” with a few sopranos soaring above on “in the meadow.” The line conveys the song’s pathos; “All the Pretty Little Horses” is a lullaby sung by a slave woman who has been forced to leave her child alone to care for the master’s.

To end our folk song set on a brighter note, we sing Roland Carter’s rousing arrangement of “This Little Light of Mine.” The song has been perhaps our best crowd-pleaser all tour, and tonight is no exception.

From there, it’s on to songs of Yale. We begin with YGC senior Bram Wayman’s Fenno Heath Award-winning composition “Through Eden,” and follow it with “’Neath the Elms.” Then it’s “Eli Yale.” Manager Stephen Wirth ’09 is excellent as he fills in for President Casey Klippel as soloist. His ad libbed couplet “Those Oregon State Beavers are rather wack / Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack quack!” draws laughter and applause from the U of O Ducks fans in the audience. With Stephen singing Casey’s part, we have need for a second fill-in soloist — Stephen usually joins Casey to sing harmony during the last, most hammed up verse of the song. To the YGC’s delight, director Jeff Douma steps to the plate and delivers a great performance.

Then it’s time to invite up YGC alums (there are a few in the audience) and don Yale gear to sing the Football Medley. The new tradition of dueling accompanists reaches another level as, with Max Blum back, we have not two but three pianists fighting over the right to play the medley. Max, Ray Nagem, and Eli Luberoff ’09 trade off the piano with hilarious slapstick choreography and without missing a single note. As we sing the final chord, Casey frisbees a blue cowboy hat to Jeff, and he puts it on to cut us off.

Casey now takes center stage and conducts us with blue kid-gloved arms as we sing “Bright College Years.” We finish and dash off to loud applause.

10:30pm-11:30pm: There’s little time to relax right after the concert. We change quickly and head out to meet our Eugene-area hosts. Steven Bruce ’09 and I stay at a house right on the banks of the Willamette River. Our hosts are very nice, and serve us an excellent post-concert snack: homemade apple pie. We chat with our hosts, but conscious of the 7:45am bus to Chico, CA in the morning, Steven and I soon set our alarms and prepare to turn in. I pause to begin this post, and then fall asleep, another packed and fun day of tour in the books.

-Dylan Morris, '11

Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 Winter Tour Blog, Day 3: Portland

Today's post comes from Rachel Wilf, a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College.

The Glee Club left Astoria early this morning heading for Portland. On the way we stopped in Seaside, a small beach town on the Pacific coast. Especially for a born Northeasterner like myself, the sight of the wide Pacific in the shadow of snowy mountains was exhilarating. Some Glee Clubbers waded into the (very cold) water and others struck up an impromptu game of ultimate Frisbee—which usually happens when Glee Clubbers have any free space to run around in.

After a bus ride through a snowy evergreen forest, which was definitely a transit highlight for many of us, we unloaded the buses in central Portland. Despite the chilly weather, we set off to explore Powell’s, the biggest bookstore west of the Mississippi—a bookstore as large as a city block, so expansive that you need a map to get around inside. Despite the size of the store, I kept running into other Glee Clubbers in the aisles, giving me a chance to get to know members new and old.

As many of us found out, Powell’s is only a few blocks from Voodoo Donut, a tiny hole-in-the-wall doughnut shop selling sinfully delicious doughnuts (I got a hot-out-of-the-oven apple fritter, narrowly chosen over the “Voodoo Blood Donut,” a raspberry jelly-filled glazed delicacy).

We finished off the day of exploring with a joint concert at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral with the Pacific Youth Choir (former home of Glee Club members Daniel Cruse ’11 and Rob Williams ’12). We were lucky enough to open for the Pacific Youth Choir’s excellent holiday concert. The beautiful cathedral was packed, and for many of us the concert felt like a trip down memory lane to listen to many old choir favorites.

Although we only had a few hours of free time in Portland, I certainly feel like I got a taste of the city. More importantly, though, I got to spend time with my fellow Glee Clubbers--always the best part of tour. I can’t wait to set off for Eugene tomorrow.

-Rachel Wilf TD '11

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 Winter Tour Blog, Day 2: Seattle/Astoria

Today's post is written by Virginia Calkins, a junior in Pierson College and the 2008-2009 YGC Outreach Chair.

7 a.m. Seattle, WA: the Glee Club wakes up, each in a comfortable home. I embark on a walk with my host and her dog around Seward Park, admiring Lake Washington's beauty.

9 a.m. Downtown Seattle: the Glee Club disperses for a few hours of free time to explore the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, or Rem Koolhaus' brilliance in the Seattle Public Library.

11:30 a.m. The Bus: the Glee Club loads the bus for the journey down the coast. We watch The Goonies and debate watching Free Willy, both movies filmed in Astoria. Some gleelings catch some zzzz.

2:00 p.m. Liberty Theater, Astoria, OR: the Glee Club arrives in Astoria (pop. 10,000) to discover a wonderful, historical Vaudeville theater. We rehearse, making sure to memorize the few songs we had used music for the previous night.

6:00 p.m. The McTavish room of the Liberty Theater: the Glee Club dines on an incredible combination of family specialties: meatballs, clam chowder, salad, clementines, etc. I practice my juggling skills with clementines.

7:00 p.m. CONCERT #2 of tour: the Glee Club sings the second concert entirely from memory. The audience enjoys the show and responds enthusiastically to the spirituals.

7:55 p.m. Liberty Theater Stage: the Glee Club sings an especially exciting rendition of the football medley. Our two esteemed pianists, Eli and Ray, engage in a (carefully choreographed) wrestle over the prestigious job of accompanying the medley. Jeff hands the microphone to Noah for his bulldog roar, which terrifies the first five rows of the audience.

9:45 p.m. Astoria, OR and Seaside, OR: the Glee Club settles down in various homes in the area. I enjoy a magic show put on by the two children at my homestay and tuck myself into a warm bed for the night.

-Virginia Calkins PC '10

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 Winter Tour Blog, Day 1: Seattle

Last night marked the first concert of tour, at Town Hall in Seattle, Washington. Below is a post from senior Bram Wayman reflecting on the experience.

Tonight, I had a rare and very special experience: I heard the Yale Glee Club in concert. It's not often that we get to hear ourselves sing from the audience's point of view. Once in a while, somebody gets sick, and has to sit out for a concert, but that doesn't leave one in much of a position to listen critically or enjoyably. In my case, airline trouble and delayed baggage left me with no concert attire, and also left me free to see the Glee Club as our audiences see us.

As anybody else in the group can attest, I couldn't stop smiling. I smiled through everything -- the happy pieces, the sad pieces, even the mistakes. At the risk of sounding like one of our parents, I was so proud to see all my friends on stage. After weeks of break and a single, grueling rehearsal, our concert was not just good -- it was strong. We made an impression, a positive and moving one. But I wasn't just smiling with pride. It was all part of the insane happiness of being a part of the Glee Club, getting to experience our music as a listener and still get to sing this program tomorrow. I had the best of both worlds.

Sitting out from this concert gave me a few valuable things to consider for tour. The first was the clichéd "silver lining," though in this case it was very real: without my baggage trouble, I would not have been able to hear the Glee Club. But this led to a wider point of view; during tour, making the best of bad situations often gives great, if unexpected, results. While preparing for the concert, somebody to whom I told my airline story said, "You seem to be taking this really well." She sounded surprised, but I just grinned wider -- I couldn't help it. Why not take it well? We gave a solid first concert which I was privileged to hear, and I couldn't wait to tell everyone how thrilled I was to be in the concert that evening. I can't wait to be on stage, and a part of it again.

-Bram Wayman SY '09

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Winter Tour Blog (Prologue)

Oh, why doth time so quickly fly?

With today marking the beginning of a new year and the first day of tour, it seems like the right moment to reflect briefly on the fall semester. What truly sets the YGC apart is our shared passion for singing and the strong friendships within the group. The earth may be green (YGC apple picking!) or white with snow (YGC caroling!) - but the camaraderie carries on unchanged.

The fall semester has certainly proved that all eighty-four members put the "Glee" in the 148th Yale Glee Club! Each year, in the spirit of friendly rivalry, we play a prank on Princeton's Glee Club during our joint football concert. After stoically bearing Princeton's barrage of orange paper airplanes for several years in a row, some YGC members pooled their engineering and artistic talents to create an eight by eight-foot Yale "paper" airplane, which proved to be (almost literally) a show-stopper. Earlier in the semester, the Glee Club also won approval from a Woolsey Hall crowd during the Yale Symphony Orchestra's Halloween Show. Costumed as everything from US States to frozen yogurt, scores of enthusiastic Glee Clubbers sang "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana for the show's finale. And most recently, after singing a concert at the Yale Club of New York, a festive event which included alumni joining in for carols, we continued to "let melody flow" wherever we went, all the way back to New Haven.

Though people across the world will sing with nostalgia tonight, wondering whether old acquaintance be forgot, we know that time and change shall naught avail to break the friendships formed at Yale!

-Casey Klippel TC '09