Saturday, May 28, 2011

From New Haven they say you are going

Publicity chair emeritus Mari Oye ’11 on Yale Commencement and commencing tour.

“There’s the family you’re born into,” said YGC President Emily Howell, “and the family Jeff [Douma] chooses for you.” That was ten days ago, as the Glee Club, stranded in San Francisco by an American Airlines flight cancellation, gave an impromptu concert for the rest of the travelers stuck in line. “Raise Your Voices,” “Abendlied,” and that other classic, “Baby You’re Not Alone,” all graced SFO. Given an extra day downtown, a quartet of stray Glee Clubbers sang “Dover Beach” on the beach by the Golden Gate bridge.

Ten days later, we find ourselves in another airport – this time, JFK, bound for Sweden via Paris. In between, though, we’ve been busy. The Glee Club collectively sang three baccalaureate services, two Class Day hymns, and our own Commencement Concert in Sprague Hall (above, shenanigans during the football medley). Gleeniors wore white roses with blue ribbons and a spray of baby’s breath, and cried – for real – during “Eli Yale,” at the line “the saddest tale we have to tell is when we bid Old Yale farewell.”

The baccalaureates take place in Woolsey Hall. Each year, we sing Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia” from the second balcony. My own baccalaureate was the eighth I’ve attended, but it’s different when you’re the one graduating. We could hear the “Alleluia” drifting down from the balcony, and be in two places at once – up there mentally singing it with the rest of the YGC, and down in the seats by the stage, gown on, cap in hand, listening.

Later we seniors stepped into Old Campus and “smoked our pipes and sang our glees,” according to Yale tradition. Graduates receive a clay pipe to smoke and then break. (If you see any shards in the Vandy courtyard, you can blame Derek Tam, Jasmine Dyba, and me).

I guess I’m now an alumna of Yale College, but until this Glee Club tour ends, I stubbornly refuse to leave. I’ve even started to take this joy and craziness for granted. Right now, some tenors are teaching Jeff how to juggle by Gate 5. Max Blum MUS ’11 appears to be conducting along with the “Fast and the Furious” arcade game. He’s interrupted by an announcement: “Attendez-vous!” We’re headed for Uppsala, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Prague, Munich, Paris, and Istanbul. Sunset is at 10 pm, our first concert is at 11 am in Uppsala Cathedral, and there are 23 days of tour to go.