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