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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.  

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