Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 Summer Tour: Santo Domingo

Casey Klippel '09, the wise old woman of the YGC, on our last few days in Santo Domingo.

The last day on the Tour That Broke All The Rules started out by ... breaking another rule. The morning after our closing banquet usually consists of sad farewells and moaning-and-groaning about the early wakeup call. But not on this tour! Banquet technically happened last night (though more on that later), and instead of travelling home today, we had our first free time in Santo Domingo as well as our final concert. Time to rise and shine!

Those who rose and shone early enough could take a walking tour of the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo. Since I am a professional athlete in the extreme sport of sleeping in, my day started instead at our awesome hotel’s even awesomer breakfast buffet (read: tons of pastries, three kinds of tropical fruit juice, and unlimited fried cheese). To be fair, twenty-two of us had toured the Colonial Zone yesterday afternoon. Santo Domingo contains many of the oldest European-influenced buildings in the New World, and its main church is the only truly Gothic cathedral in the Western Hemisphere. The walking tour also brought us into the National Mausoleum and the palace built by Christopher Columbus’s son.

This morning, about half the Glee Club took the opportunity to lounge by our hotel’s expansive swimming pool. I joined in the swimming party after an attempt to walk along the Malecón, a pedestrian path that runs along the Caribbean shore. My excursion itself is hardly noteworthy, except for the incredible traffic - not once in the entire half-hour walk could I actually cross the road to walk on the Malecón. But perhaps the sea is bluer from the other side of the street. The roads in the Dominican Republic have certainly been Breaking All The Rules, from the hilarious (cows), to the dangerous (cows at night), to the unexpected (rivers), to the insane (low-hanging power lines). In the last case, the driver of the “Guagüita Heavy,” or Cool Little Bus, climbed on top of our main 55-passenger coach to move the power line. Before you ask, yes: he is a superhero. Namely, Spiderman. Compare:

The entire Glee Club ate lunch together in Colonial Zone at a Dominican buffet. From there, we travelled to the palatial National Fine Arts Museum to rehearse for our final concert. We would be sharing the stage with the National Choir of the Dominican Republic tonight, and everyone eagerly anticipated this concert as the capstone musical experience of tour. Jeff told us the entire concert hall had been sold out and two overflow rooms were being set up, adding to our already great excitement. We had our first extended rehearsal in several days and enjoyed perfecting both the technical and expressive elements of all our pieces for the last hurrah. After we practiced our set, we rehearsed “Little Innocent Lamb,” “Guayacanal,” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” with the Coro Nacional. Similar to our version of “Muie Rendera” during our tour last year to Brazil, our tempo for “Guayacanal” was about half as fast as it should have been. After rehearsing with the Coro Nacional and their fantastic percussionists, the song sounded much more exciting and animated!

We had a couple hours of downtime before our final concert, during which we could have a snack at the backstage bar and simply hang out. A widespread outbreak of Gleeardia by this point on tour did nothing to dampen our spirits or lessen our end-of-tour traditions. Danny Townsend ’10 and Sarah Dewey ’10 each gave a pep talk inspiring us to cherish this last concert. Even though much mirth lay ahead in the the after-party and after-after-party, the next hour would be the last time the 149th Glee Club would meet as friends in song. The Coro Nacional began the program with a selection of five works, and about fifteen of us snuck into the wings to listen to their beautiful renditions of opera choruses. Next, we performed our hour long set without intermission. Music is the art of time, and our final time together passed much too quickly - the quietly blossoming “O Quam Gloriosum,” the inexorable “McKay,” the lighthearted yet poignant “into the strenuous briefness” by Ryan Harper ’10, and even the short and sweet International Football Medley (played blindfolded by Justin Jee ’10!). I teared up during the transcendent expansiveness of Bruckner’s “Os Justi,” and I’m sure there were not many dry eyes left by the end of Bright College Years. Of course, Breaking Another Rule, BCY was not the last piece on our program. The Coro Nacional returned to the stage for our three joint pieces plus an exhilarating encore.

The final applause over, it was time to Break As Many Rules As Possible before tour really, truly came to an end. The Coro Nacional hosted a mind-blowing, rule-breaking bash that involved a second final banquet buffet, outdoor merengue dancing, and unlimited rum and Coke (eerily parallel to my first-ever night on Glee Club tour five years ago, except in that case the drinks were airborne). We returned to our hotel after midnight, exhausted but unstoppable, as exemplified by the following exclusive interview with John Good ’10:

YGC Blog: John, you look tired.
Mr. Good: I’m SO tired!
YGC Blog: Are you going to sleep?
Mr. Good: No, I’m going to the party!

Alas, I had less resolve than John and went to sleep after returning my music to Sean. It turns out the catchy refrain of “Guayacanal” cannot be removed from one’s head by simply removing the sheet music from one’s folder. But sleep is a reconciling...

Song of the day: “GUAYACANAL!!!!” (not to be confused with “Guayacanal, Slow Version”)