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