Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Holidays, from the YGC

Written by Rachel Wilf, '12

What better way to celebrate the end of classes than with a holiday trip to that (other) haven of food and song, the Yale Club of New York?

Miles Canaday, Claire Donnelley, and
Miriam Lauter at the Yale Club of New York
 After the end of term, the Glee Club comes together to sing one last concert of our tour repertoire before heading home for break. This year, we encircled our audience in the Yale Club’s President’s room to perform Josquin des Prez’s 24-voice canon, “Qui Habitat.” We also performed selections from Howell’s Requiem, Jeff’s moving arrangements of “On My Journey Home” and “All the Pretty Little Horses,” traditional Yale songs, and several Christmas carols. It’s a special joy to share this music with our audience at this point in term, when we have each reacquainted ourselves with the Football medley and fallen in love with certain notes and melodies in our repertoire.  As usual, our official concert in the Yale Club was only the beginning of an evening of song. After the concert, we walked across the street to Grand Central and sang carols to passersby from the Vanderbilt Avenue steps. We finished by singing “Wassail” as we hurried to our New Haven-bound Metro-North train. In keeping with my favorite Glee Club tradition, we treated the train ride home as a time to celebrate by singing with friends, old and new. 

Carolling in Grand Central
Every year I look forward to the Glee Club’s end of term concert at the Yale Club, and this year was no exception. I would like to extend a note of thanks to all those who make this concert so fantastic every year:

Thank you to our Yale Professors, who make us appreciate the last day of term that much more by scheduling exams and papers during the last week of class.

Thank you to our families, friends, and all the lovely Yale alums in our audience for your enthusiasm and energy. There’s nothing quite like singing Bright College Years to an audience with handkerchiefs at the ready.

Thank you to the wonderful chefs at the Yale Club for temporarily making dining hall food a distant memory.

Thank you to the stage crew in the President’s room for adding only one extra platform to our stage this year. Nothing brings the group together like forced physical proximity!

Thank you to the audience that collected in Grand Central for encouraging us to keep singing after we were kicked off the steps.

And thank you, Metro-North conductors past and present, for letting us sing and be merry all the way back to New Haven.

This Yale Club concert was my last with the Glee Club. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to sing with the group for an extra term, and to have befriended many of our wonderful new members. I wish them luck with the wonderful, joyous ride that is membership in the Glee Club!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Harvard-Yale 2011

Each year, the night before the big Game, the real Harvard-Yale battle takes place. This year, the fateful clash occurred in our own Woolsey Hall, with hundreds of alums and music lovers cheering on their school. There was no bloodshed (as in previous years...) but there was definitely excitement, chaos, betrayal, 24- part motets, displays of immense courage (particularly in conducting 24-part motets), world premiers, an overpowering performance of Shenandoah, bed sheets flying high above the Woolsey organ, and ultimately, reconciliation and lots of glee. Here are some scenes from the Harvard-Yale Glee Club Concert (Photos courtesy of T Sean Maher, Phyllis Thangaraj and Marisa Karchin)

The Yale Glee Club, performing under Jeff Douma

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people"










Yale and Harvard students hang out at the reception (Left)




















President Claire Paulson sang in her Eli Yale verses, "We've been admiring your tuxes and your perfectly coiffed curls/ But I guess they weren't quite good enough to draw in any girls."










Student Conductor Andy Berry '12 conducts the Yale Glee Club singing Loch Lomond (Right)








'nuff said.







Alums and both glee clubs come 
together on stage to sing Fair Harvard and Bright College Years, the two schools' alma maters. 









Video of the Yale Glee Club performing
Qui Habitat by Josquin des Prez (right) and the Football Medley (below), thanks to Sean McCusker!



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not That it Matters...

Just kidding (kind of). We really do love our annual concert with the Princeton Glee Club! Emma Schmidt '15, writes about her first Yale-Princeton experience.

Last Friday, November 11th, we sang with the Princeton Glee Club down yonder in Princeton—enemy territory…

We arrived after a long bus ride (4.5 hours!), due to excessive New York City traffic. Flustered though we were, we shuffled on stage and had a shortened rehearsal before dinner. As we walked through the dressing room in the basement of Richardson Auditorium, we began to notice the orange pieces of paper that would become so important later on in the concert.

Before the concert, we had dinner, “which was like, a MILE away!” as described by a candid Glee Clubber. We are spoiled by our dining halls here at Yale. Either way, we were fueled and ready to go as Andy Berry, student conductor extraordinaire, gave a pep talk and got us thinking about not thinking.

As the Glee Club walked onstage and got into place, there was an energy and focus that I hadn’t yet felt in the group. As a freshman, my only concert experiences before this one have been in Woolsey, which is at least a little bit intimidating. The auditorium at Princeton was more intimate, which I think helped us all focus more on Jeff and the music. Opening with Zephyr Rounds set the tone for the concert: energetic, precise, and focused. Chamber Singers sang a piece, and we closed our first set with four movements of Howells’ Requiem.

Coming back onstage after intermission, we tried to hide our Yale gear, but they knew it was coming--there was even some preemptive hissing as the Princetonians spotted our Yale blue. During the football medley, Princeton proceeded to throw hundreds of orange paper airplanes onto the stage. We were well prepared with Yale umbrellas to shield us from the rain of orange! Hissing and “Yale sucks” abounded, but we still had lots of fun singing the medley, and the audience appreciated our good nature towards their hissing.

After Princeton sang their second set, we joined them onstage for BCY and their alma mater, Old Nassau. (Yale’s is so much better! But they don’t matter anyway.) Singing each other's songs seemed representative of our experience there: rivalries aside, we were all there to share and make music, and at the end of the day that was all that mattered. Of course, we’re better, but it doesn’t mean we can’t sing together!

We’re looking forward to our concert on Friday with the Harvard Glee Club! As Jeff says, we’re going to “show them who’s boss.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family, Friends, and Happiness: Parents' Weekend Concert

Claire Donnelley '14, writes about her experience this year singing in our annual Family Weekend concert.

        The Yale Glee Club! We run onstage, facing the perils of the aisles, of dodging latecomers, of air vents in Woolsey Hall that trap our high-heels, of keeping up with the sprinter in front of us. We sing when we arrive onstage, hearts pounding, flushed and happy.  Gaudete! 
 
       The Family Weekend concert October 29 was our first performance of the 2011-12 season repertoire. From our first rehearsal September 5th, we’ve come a long way as a group. This is my second year in the Glee Club, and being a sophomore is a completely new experience! Bonding and singing with the new members of the group has been one of the best things about being back at Yale. 

My dad came to visit over family weekend, so he got to hear the concert. I can always tell what his favorite piece is by asking him which song made him cry (we both have  a sentimental streak). This year he cried in the song On My Journey Home, a traditional sacred harp tune arranged by our conductor, Jeffrey Douma. I know the sentiment of being on a journey home, and "facing the fears of a frowning world" expressed in the song appealed to my father, who has to face both of his girls being away from home—my older sister living in Germany and me living on the opposite coast (we’re from California). Having my dad come to visit me at school made me think about journeys and what I hope to achieve with my time at Yale. I’m not certain that I will ever know the answer to that, even after I graduate, but the Glee Club is definitely a central part of my experience here. The friends I make, the life experiences I have during our international and domestic tours, and the inspirational music I have the chance to sing are all things that I have come to rely on at Yale. Amidst the stress of exams, hectic schedules, and the ongoing rush of time, every Monday and Wednesday night I have committed myself to singing. It is a stabilizing force that grounds me, helps me focus, and helps me remember the important things: family, friends, and happiness. 

I hope my dad was cheered up by the end of the concert when we closed with the Yale Football Medley and Bright College Years. The Football Medley has a piano accompaniment and this year I played this piano part along with my two alto buddies, Leah Latterner and Julia Meyers. Playing instead of singing was a different experience as well! We had fun switching off who was playing, running around the piano, and being silly. One of my favorite moments was when Julia kneeled on the bench behind me, playing the piano on either side of me as I sat scrunched on the bench, not playing but grinning naughtily for being in her way. The piece in itself is a treat to play—it’s upbeat and has unexpected glissandos and key changes all over the place that keep it exciting. I think that ending with our traditional Yale songs is a nice way to reflect on the transience of our college lives, helping us remember to appreciate being at Yale for the short four years that we get to spend here. Singing these songs is a way to remember those who have come before us—all 151 years of them—appreciate being here now, and help to carry on the tradition for those who will come.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meet the 151st Glee Club Officers!

As the Beethoven excitement has died down, we’ve finally settled into a routine, and are now getting ready for our Family Weekend Concert. In the mean time, we’d like to share a little background info on this year’s officer corps! These bios have been confirmed to be 100% accurate.

Abigail Droge, YGC manager and a senior in Calhoun College, has three secrets. First of all, when she's not delving into Donne, Dickens, and Dickenson in pursuit of her English degree, she enjoys full-contact farming on the Yale farm and giving voice lessons to squirrels. Secondly, while Abigail's sweetness is no secret to the Glee Club, few know that her family can trace its history all the way back to a certain culinarily-inclined inhabitant of Drury Lane. (This may also account for why she is forever offering us baked goods.) Finally, Abigail's secret to wrangling the schedules of 80+ people with such effortless competence? When we ask, she just smiles and goes to pull some fresh brownies out of the oven. The world may never know.


Connor “Boobie” Kenaston (social chair) hails from a town that no one has ever heard of in the lovely state of West Virginia. His biggest life moment was when Yale Professor John Gaddis showed a video of a Cold War bunker located “literally five minutes away” from Connor’s house. Recently, Connor got his first haircut in almost a year. When he is not busy being the captain of every IM sport at Yale, Connor spends all of his extra time planning social events for the glee club as part of the Connor-Connor social squad. His favorite entertainer is the illustrious David Hasselhoff.


Connor Buechler (social chair) has a beard. This beard gives him strength, courage, and shelter from the rain. At the age of 13, Connor befriended mountain goats who taught him the art of growing fierce beards. He utilizes his beard to entice Glee Clubbers to come to social events, but also to intimidate the smelly blokes of the Harvard Glee Club. But there is more to Connor than his dominance of “beard-dom:” Connor’s a Mississippian. Because the two social chairs share the same first name, most Glee Clubbers simply call Connor Buechler by his nickname, “awesome-mcawesome-awesome.”


Marisa Karchin (publicity chair) was born at the ripe old age of zero in the deceptively tall metropolis of Short Hills, NJ on February 4, 1992. From a very young age, she felt a special connection to bullfrogs, the original inspiration for her vocal style. She is well known for her unique interpretations of major works by such famous artists as Mendelssohn, Faure, Debussy, and P!nk, and loves jumping jacks, furry clothing, and bananagrams.


Stephanie Tubiolo is a sophomore in Silliman, majoring in music. She is the stage manager, but also unofficially the mother of the glee club, providing the glee club with PB&J and snacks in the hardest of times (namely, 5am flights across the country). When she’s not at rehearsal for one of the 7354983721 choruses she sings in, she can be found playing viola, and sharing her talents with children in New Haven through the Music in Schools Initiative. If you help her set up chairs before rehearsal she will reward you with cookies and everlasting love.


Sam Sanders is our beloved archivist, making her the first glee clubber in its 151 years to hold the same officer position three times in a row. A Calhoun senior majoring in Chinese, Sam hails from Huntingtown, Maryland. When she isn't lovingly stuffing glee clubber's binders with beautiful music or singing as a Soprano 1, Sam also sings with Whim 'n Rhythm, where she is the soprano section leader. The YGC is currently trying to get every glee clubber to promise that they will never lose their music again in the hopes of persuading Sam to keep her record growing and remain our archivist for the 152nd season.


Miriam Lauter's boundless kindness, embodiment of Glee, and stunning alto voice make her a fabulous member of the YGC officer corps, but it is her keen fashion sense that makes her our wardrobe-manager-extraordinaire. Every finely-pressed tuxedo collar and luscious flowing hemline you see on a Glee Club member this concert season will be her doing. Outside of YGC, Miriam enjoys expressing her lovely alto-ness in Magevet, saving the world through research, communicating her brilliance in both Chinese and Hebrew, and being awesome at life. Our very own wardrobe superhero will solve any and all wardrobe problems! Just don't ask her to tie your bowtie.


Ari Susu-Mago, a.k.a. Fuzzy Mango, a.k.a. the Glee Club’s outreach chair, stands out in the glee club for being best friends with a monocled velociraptor. An aspiring Young Adult (YA) novelist, she is widely known for her wit, warmth, and enthusiasm for life. We all miss her dearly in the month of November, when she disappears to write 50,000 words in a month as part of NaNoWriMo. She loves tea, Phillip Pullman, interrobangs, and M.U.F.A.S.A., the Multiverse Undergraduate Fantasy And Science-fiction Association. The raptor’s name is Fred.


Peter Thompson (tour manager) is a junior studying music and religion. When he is not singing or planning Hawaiian festivities, Peter likes to count the number of fish in lakes, people-watch for hours on end, and cuddle with a large stuffed animal wolf. His playlists consist of 65% MJ, 30% Britney, and probably some Beethoven and Wagner. If Peter were wardrobe manager, he would reverse tye-dye all of our dresses and tuxes. Fortunately or unfortunately, Peter is not wardrobe manager. However, he is often seen stylishly sporting toe shoes, and watching the sun set over New Haven through his floor-to-ceiling windows. He also draws a mean exclamation mark.


Cynthia Weaver, a San Diego native, is using her knowledge of SoCal to plan a very exciting California portion of this year's Glee Club tour. It probably doesn't hurt that she's a senior Cognitive Science major, either: she knows enough about people's minds to be able to coax the managers of any venue into welcoming us. Cynthia is planning to put her cog sci know-how to less nefarious use, however, when she graduates. Her interests lie at the intersection of cognitive science and the law, and she intends to go to law school to further explore the connection. When she isn't busy planning tour or thinking about the nature of intellectual property, she works at the Yale Music Library and for the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.


And now we would like to share with you the tale of how Claire Paulson became President of the Glee Club:


Claire lived in the midst of the great Iowa prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one room. There was no cellar—except a small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to crush any building in its path.


Though Claire loved Iowa, she found the semi-regular onslaught of cyclones tedious, and she decided to run away from home.


Now, Claire knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere. To a large place, a comfortable place, an indoor place, and preferably a beautiful place.


She planned very carefully; she saved her allowance, stuffed the money and some clean clothes in her trombone case, and she chose her companion. She chose Minnaloushe, her cat. He could be counted on to be quiet, and now and then he was good for a laugh.


After several days on the road, Claire happened upon a small valley, but as she entered everything changed. The wind no longer rustled the leaves, the car no longer squeaked, and Minnaloushe no longer purred. Not the slightest thing could be heard.


"WELCOME TO THE RED RIVER VALLEY OF SOUND" read a large placard some ways down the road. In her confusion, Claire hardly noticed that she had entered a large crowd of people, all holding signs which proclaimed:
"DOWN WITH SILENCE"
"IT'S LAUDABLE TO BE AUDIBLE"


And one enormous banner stated simply:
"HEAR HERE".
Claire tried to call out to the protesters, but of course, her voice made no sound. As she did, four more placards announced:
"LISTEN LOOK CAREFULLY"
"AND WE, THE MEMBERS OF THE YALE GLEE CLUB"
"WILL TELL YOU"
"OF OUR TERRIBLE MISFORTUNE"


While two YGC-ers held up a large whiteboard, a third, writing as fast as she could, explained why there was nothing but quiet in the Red River Valley of Sound.


"At a place in the valley not far from here," she began, 'where winds of night around us sighing, in the elm trees murmured low,' there is a great stone fortress called Hendrie Hall, and in it lives the Soundkeeper, who rules the glee club. The Soundkeeper used to let us raise our voices here, and we'd let melody flow wherever we'd go. But slowly she began to keep more and more of the music for herself, until we were left with no sound at all."


"You must visit the Soundkeeper and bring from the fortress one sound, no matter how small, with which to load our cannon. For, if we can reach the walls with the slightest noise, they will collapse and free the rest."


So brave Claire marched up the steps of Hendrie Hall. "Knock, knock," she wrote neatly on a piece of paper, which she pushed under the crack. In a moment the great portal swung open, and a gentle voice sang out:
"Right this way; I'm in the office."


Ushering Claire in the, Soundkeeper said, "Every song the glee club has ever sung is kept here."
"That's wonderful," said Claire. "May I have one little song as a souvenir?"
"Certainly not!" exclaimed the Soundkeeper. "Glee clubbers don't always make beautiful music you know. Sometimes they are noisy and talkative. If they won't make the sounds that I like, they won't make any."
"But---" Claire started to say, and it got no further than that. For while she was about to say that she didn't that that that was quite fair, she suddenly discovered the way she would carry her little sound from the fortress. In the instant between saying the word and before it sailed off into the air she had clamped her lips shut--and the "but" was trapped in her mouth, all made but not spoken.


Claire quickly hurried back to the waiting glee clubbers, and loaded the little sound into their cannon. From far away they heard a faint "but," and then a mighty crash, as the Soundkeeper's walls came a-tumblin' down.


Then the Glee Clubbers burst out into song, and strains of
"Brave and gallant Claire Paulson..." and "It's Claire, It's Claire..." could be heard the valley round.


The Glee Club made Claire their President, and from that day forward, were free to make music whenever they chose.


My apologies to
L. Frank Baum,
E. L. Konigsburg,
and Norton Juster

Sunday, September 25, 2011

So Much Freude!

We had our first concert on Friday night singing Beethoven's 9th with the Yale Philharmonia. Needless to say, it was an unbelievable start to the 151st season! Stephanie Tubiolo ('14), stage manager, writes about this joyous occasion.


I am almost certain Woolsey Hall was filled past legal capacity last night. Nearly 3000 seats were not enough to accommodate the hundreds in standing room, and still others were turned away by police officers, my parents among them (although they did manage to sneak back in).  Our massive audience, a mixture of Philharmonia, Camerata, YGC, and Beethoven fans,  only added to the inevitable excitement and energy of our first concert.  From the moment the men sang their first note to Shinik’s last downbeat, I don’t think I have ever been so proud to be part of an ensemble.
The YGC is feeling quite young these days for an organization entering its 151st year.  We welcomed almost 30 new members into our ranks less than three weeks ago and are truly a new choir.  
You may perceive a subtle increase in masculinity due to our 22-member bass section (!), which includes our new undergraduate and graduate assistant conductors; however, the ladies will counterbalance this manliness with their beautiful new dresses.  You will notice a prominent increase in waist visibility and a prominent decrease in scalloped necklines, not that we ever complained…

It seemed a daunting task to tackle Beethoven as our first work, but as we began navigating his vocal acrobatics together it became clear that there could be no better way to open this season - this era - of YGC than with his Symphony No. 9 in d minor.

-"Wait, that has a chorus?"-

Indeed it does!  The very famous Finale is set to a poem by German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller entitled "An Die Freude" - To Joy.  The Ninth premiered in Vienna in 1824 with one of Beethoven's only other major choral works, the Missa Solemnis in D major.

It is curious that our dear Ludwig chose to write a choral movement into his last major work, as there was no significant precedent for blending the choral and symphonic worlds.  Beethoven is considered the composer primarily responsible for bringing music from the "beautiful" of the Classical period to the "sublime" of the Romantic era.  His instrumental music was praised for its ability to express the inexpressible - to access an emotional inwardness and intimacy (Innigkeit) inaccessible by any other art forms, especially those involving text.  Under his reign, instrumental music was elevated above vocal music and prized as the chosen genre of the educated upper class, for it somehow conveyed what words could not.  Beethoven opens his soul to us in this manner so that, in peering into his emotional depths, we may reflect subjectively on our own inner selves.  (I'm not biased, I swear.)
So why add text to unsurpassable sublimity?  Romanticism is largely an anti-Enlightenment concept; it exalts that which cannot be explained by rational thought and that which goes beyond reason.  Romantic works express a longing for pre-Enlightenment purity and uncorrupted human-ness, and this is what Beethoven and Schiller give us in the D Major choral finale of the Ninth - unadulterated human joy.  The chorus is not merely a vehicle for text expression but a symbol for humanity, proclaiming the purest of emotions in the purest of ways - by unified singing.

Tenor Peter Thompson '12.5 emphasized the importance of conveying this joy in a moving pre-concert pep talk.  He shared an excerpt from Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament, the letter he wrote to his brothers before he withdrew from society in 1802 with the knowledge he would go completely deaf:

O Providence - grant me at least but one day of pure joy - it is so long since real joy echoed in my  heart - O when - O when, O Divine One - shall I find it again in the temple of nature and of men...

Beethoven asserts that music - "his art" - was the only thing that kept him from taking his own life once he lost his hearing.  He states his determination to "bring forth all that [he] felt was within [him]" and accomplishes this tenfold in the Ninth Symphony.  

Peter closed his talk by sharing with us his decision to switch his major from Religious Studies to Music.  To him, the two areas are very related; he feels that singing together is one of the most sacred and transcendent acts in which we can partake.

Minutes after we gave every ounce of freude into our performance and the audience jumped to its feet, Jeff commented further on Beethoven's words:

That Beethoven found joy to be elusive in his personal life illuminates so much of the Finale - the  sound of a great artist trying through the strength of his own will to bring into being an emotion he fears he may never experience again.  I wish he could have heard you tonight.

It is an incredible testament to the power and profundity of Beethoven's devotion to music that he was able to access such joy in a time of such utter despair, and it was the greatest privilege to be able to sing his work with each other and for each other.  I cannot imagine anything more gleeful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Final Destination: Istanbul

Marisa Karchin ’14, on our Istanbul concert and how she cries every time we sing the Vaughan Williams

“This is the place where East meets West, old meets new. What better way to have old meet new than for YAC and the Glee Club to be singing together?” spoke Mark Dollhopf at the Yale Alumni Chorus/ Yale Glee Club welcome dinner our first night in Istanbul. We sat in the hotel restaurant, all approximately 300 of us, exchanging stories, sharing our excitement for our joint concert, hissing at the mention of Harvard, and, of course, singing old favorites. Istanbul was the last stop of the YGC tour, but the first stop for the YAC, who’s also performing in Georgia and Armenia.

On our first full day together, we took a ferry to the Princes Islands, crossing the very black waters from Europe to Asia, where we had our first joint rehearsal. We barely all fit in the room in the Anadolu Club, but singing in such a massive chorus was more empowering than intimidating. Jeff warned us, “The potential for greatness is vast and so is the potential for mayhem. Luckily you’re veering toward greatness.”

We spent the next two days between rehearsals and sightseeing. We went on guided tours of the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque. We learned about religious customs and heard the call to prayer resounding across the city; we heard stories about Turkish marriage rituals (when a man is ready to start looking for a wife, he can perform a certain task, such a stabbing rice with a spoon over dinner, or stealing a horse, depending on the region); we saw the inside of the Sultan’s Harem, covered in elegant blue tile. We navigated the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar, developed various methods of bargaining (and heard some interesting pick-up lines in the process), and naturally, ate copious amounts of Turkish Delight and kebab.


(Photo: Cynthia Deng '14 and Claire Donnelley '14 outside the Hagia Sophia)

And then it was time for the concert. This was a strange concert for us musically, in that we were not singing any of our tour rep, but were bringing back the Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem we had sung with the YSO at Carnegie Hall. We were also singing a few new pieces- a Turkish folk song we all came to love, along with Yale School of Music grad Colin Britt’s “A Dream and a Song,” Khachaturian’s “Song About Peoples’ Friendship,” and “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide.

The concert itself was exhilarating. The Vaughan Williams especially was the perfect work for the occasion. In his speech a few nights earlier, Mark Dollhopf talked about how this year is not only the 150th anniversary of the Glee Club, but also that of the Civil War. The Civil War memorial in Woolsey Hall, our usual performance venue, is special to our community in that it is one of the few in the U.S. that memorializes both the North and the South. It is a place of pure reconciliation and reuniting. He continued, “It’s about what the power of a community like Yale can do.” By performing together and singing works like Dona Nobis Pacem, the Glee Club and YAC “suggest there could be, through the power of our song, healing.”


(Photo: Singing Dinner with YAC at the Elif Gonul Davet Salonu)

Three months had passed since we’d last sung the Dona Nobis, and this time it was in an entirely different context. Three months ago we were in Carnegie Hall, in New York, just the 85 of us. This time we were in Istanbul, a city many of us never dreamed of visiting, singing with 200 other singers and the Tekfen Orchestra, comprised of players from 23 different countries. Because of the new ensemble, the interpretation of the piece changed significantly. I was surprised at our first rehearsal to hear the movements sung at different tempos, with a different timbre, and different phrasing than I had remembered. But the intrinsic beauty of the music and Whitman text, and the feeling of being surrounded by hundreds of musicians and former glee clubbers, brought me to tears once again as the soprano part floated over the chorus singing the hauntingly simple melody in “Reconciliation.” Between these two performances we’d seen the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, the newly restored churches and buildings in Dresden, heard personal stories about the fall of the Berlin Wall and seen the international artwork painted on the broken pieces of the wall. And now we were in Istanbul, historically a city of much turmoil as the center of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, as well as the connection between the eastern and western spheres. Our understanding of the world has changed, and we could feel this propelling our performance at this concert. I could not have imagined a more meaningful way to end our tour.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Paris, June 14th


Neena Satija '11 writes about our concert at the Sorbonne.

Even though my undergraduate career technically ended in May, I'd like to think that this tour extends it by a few precious weeks. So, tonight I sang my final concert as an undergraduate member of the Yale Glee Club - and I couldn't have imagined a better send-off than this.

The Sorbonne Amphitheatre is a breathtaking space to sing in. It's large enough for a sizeable audience, but not so large that singers onstage can't connect with members of the audience by looking into their faces. We were watched over on all sides by statues of great French thinkers, including Richelieu, Descartes, and Lavoisier (who sports a particularly solemn look, but was probably looking at us with the most intensity out of all of our stone spectators). The house was nearly full. And we all sang with the acute awareness that we were singing many songs for the last time -- songs that had been near and dear to some of us for more than four years. It was especially emotional for me to sing Robert Vuichard's "Zephyr Rounds", which we had learned for the first time during my freshman year, as well as Glee Club favorites like "Shenandoah." But perhaps the hardest song to sing without shedding some tears was "Red River Valley," a beautiful arrangement by our very own director that I heard for the first time when I visited Yale during Bulldog Days.


Jeff has always warned us that audiences on tours are hit-or-miss; it's hard to tell who will show up and how enthusiastic they will be. But he's also always told us that if we can make an impact on just ten people, that would be far more valuable than sending away 500 people who'll forget the concert as soon as they leave. Tonight, though, I'd say we got the best of both worlds - a large audience that was clearly appreciative. As we left the stage, they stood and clapped for so long that Jeff and Emily ran back onstage quite a few times; we'd actually sung our entire tour repertoire, so an encore was hard to come by. But finally, Jeff decided on the old Glee Club favorite "Little Lamb." I've rarely seen a more excited audience.

I'm thrilled that our tour isn't over yet, but it really hit me tonight that I'll never spend time like this with the Glee Club again. Well, we'll always have Paris.

Photos: Awesome shot of the Eiffel Tower, courtesy of Peter Thompson '12, and a restaurant called "Gaudeamus."

Munich!

Jess Moore '13, on beer, pretzels, and a YGC guy:


Well, the Glee Club survived Munich! True, the (locally brewed) beer flowed freely and we learned just how loud 80 people can get, but at least we know how to have a good time. Our brief tryst with the city of Munich began with a rehearsal at LMU, which in my mind stands for Large Munich University, with the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium. Afterward, we were led through the English Gardens to a beer garden. There was a large clearing filled with picnic tables and a low-lying building where beer and “portions” of food (one “portion” or ribs was an entire pig, as a Harvard tablemate found out the hard way) were sold. We were taught the etiquette of beer gardens:



  • You may bring your own food, in a picnic style, but there is often food to buy as well
  • You may NOT bring your own beverages, not even water, as this is where the brewery makes its money
  • The breweries making money is important because they pay for the beer garden.

The next day, we took a bus tour around the city and learned a bit about it. We were shown the BMW headquarters that is shaped like four cylinders, the adjacent BMW world where your new car comes down in a glass elevator, Olympic Park from the last summer Olympics held here, and then disembarked at Nymphenburg. Nymphenburg, or Palace of Nymphs, was the summer palace of the Bavarian monarchy from the 1600s through the end of the monarchy in 1918, and it was beautiful. We frolicked on the grass surrounding the canal and harassed the domesticated swans. Our tour then continued through the city; we learned about everything from Ludwig II’s obsession with Wagner to the history of Oktoberfest. The city definitely offers a diverse array of entertainment possibilities. In the words of Andrea, our local guide, “We sell ourselves as if nobody is working here; we are all dancing and yodeling in leiderhosen!”


Speaking of leiderhosen, we saw a lot of it later that night at our concert. The LMU students in their choir, though not singing with us, showed up to our concert in various types of traditional dress in an attempt to convince us (successfully) that this was a normal thing to wear on any occasion. Well played, LMU. You really had us going there. Of course, our own Sam Sanders turned the joke on them when she bought her own traditional garb and rocked it. Pranks aside, our concert was a great success. The concert hall was beautiful, with a golden mosaic reminiscent of the Gold Room in Sweden where the Nobel Prize ceremony is held that we saw earlier on tour. The Harvard Radcliffe Collegium performed their set first, followed by our set. The concert ended with two joint pieces all ~100 of us crowded together on the steps.


The real star of that night, however, was Jacob Levine. The one-time winner of Best Pep Talk Ever Created, here he is to tell you about the night in his own words:


(to the tune of "American Pie")


A long, long time ago,

Back in mid-September,

I was trying to fight the senior blues.

I wanted my last year at Yale

To be the best one without fail,

But I had no idea what to do.


I told my friends of my intentions

And they came back with great suggestions:

Some said I should start thinking

‘Bout 7-day-a-week drinking.


But the words that made most sense to me

Came from my best friends in TD:

They told me to join YGC.

The rest is history.


Oh my, my, I’m a Yale Glee Club guy.

I’m in love with Jeffrey Douma and think Sean’s pretty fly.

Though my time is short, I swear I’ll try not to cry

When it’s time to say my final goodbyes…


Time to say my final goodbyes.


Did you know that Yale Glee Club

Is an institution filled with love?

No lie, at first I didn’t see.

But then we finally went on winter tour

And it wasn’t long at all before


This little glee club felt a lot like family.


Well, Chicago was a total ball

Though, what I did I can’t quite recall.

But one thing’s crystal clear:

Someone was belting Cs in my ear.


...


And I was singing…

My, my, I’m a Yale Glee Club guy.

I’m in love with Jeffrey Douma and think Sean’s pretty fly.

Though my time is short, I swear I’ll try not to cry

When it’s time to say my final goodbyes…

Time to say my final goodbyes.


Now the past 6 months have been so much fun!

We tore up Carnegie with blazin’ guns

And Vaughn Williams we enacted flawlessly.

And though “Partition” made me wanna die

I finally saw the beauty deep inside,

Though I’m still haunted by the words: “not so easy.”


Oh, reunion was a blast, of course.

Alumni showed up with such force

The halls of Woolsey rang

When City Song we sang.


And who could forget YGC outreach?

We raised our voices for Tony Leach

As New Haven kids he tried to teach

That day in history.


And we were singing…

My, my, I’m a Yale Glee Club guy.

I’m in love with Jeffrey Douma and think Sean’s pretty fly.

Though my time is short, I swear I’ll try not to cry

When it’s time to say my final goodbyes…

Time to say my final goodbyes.


I guess that brings us to summer tour,

Where I’ve learned so much I never knew before,

Like bears in Sweden love a crowd.

In Germany we drank cheap beer

And shared our laughter and good cheer,

Though often we were just a touch too loud.


In Prague we toured the local bars

While some of us checked out ERs.

Now France and Turkey beckon.

The ending’s near, I reckon.


And the two men I admire most,

To them I raise this final toast:

To say we’re lucky is no boast.

You’ll go down in history.


We’ll be singing…

My, my, I’m a Yale Glee Club guy.

I’m in love with Jeffrey Douma and think Sean’s pretty fly.

Though my time is short, I swear I’ll try not to cry

When it’s time to say my final goodbyes…

And bid farewell with BCY.