Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

"Yale found its Glee 150 years ago," New Haven Register

An article from Donna Doherty in today's New Haven Register. All photos Arnold Gold/New Haven Register... and a video in the original article here.

NEW HAVEN — It has sung all over the world, survived wars and co-education. Its alums include legendary songwriter Cole Porter, former senators Prescott Bush and James Symington, and peace activist Rev. William Sloane Coffin, so reaching 150 years old seemed cause for celebration.

The Yale Glee Club, the oldest musical organization on campus, has big plans for that occasion, ones which embrace the community and continue through May, including two specially commissioned works, each composer and writer, unbeknownst to the other, choosing to honor the city of New Haven.

“City Song,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and former Yale Glee-er Lew Spratlan and renowned Yale poet Elizabeth Alexander, will have its world premiere at a gala free concert at 5 p.m. Saturday at Woolsey Hall, featuring current Glee Club members and five decades of…

Dead Week Shenanigans

Just in case you were wondering what Glee Club members do during dead week, here is just a glimpse of the festivities! This occurred during a lovely spring afternoon after a bit too much happy frappuccino hour at Starbucks.

Ten Songs of Yale you didn't know about

Bram Wayman '09 delves into the depths of songbooks past. The views shared here in no way represent the official opinion of the YGC Blog nor the YGC... & c. & c. & c.*

Though clear favorites stand the test of time, and the old song books of Yale are full of the high stupidity of yesteryear, a few gems that aren't often — if ever — sung today stand out for me. Some of these songs are beautiful, some hilarious, and some downright offensive, but they all deserve a second look, and I'm not convinced all of them should have fallen out of use. I'm no expert on the history of Yale songs, and have only picked from a few books, but here are ten songs of Yale that still bring a smile to my face.

1. "Old Tom Wilson." TTBB. One of Barty's cleverest arrangements, this piece is a song from the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. It features vocal banjos, vocal beer-chugging that gets longer each time the jug goes around, lyrics such as "Big fat gals…

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 Vaughan Williams. Enjoy!


I first encountered this piece when 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 mys…