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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…

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 …

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…