Thursday, February 23, 2012

"Best 24 Hour Tour Ever"

-In the words of Jeff Douma. But I think we'd all agree that our trip to Providence this past weekend for the American Choral Directors Association convention was both a great performing and bonding experience, despite the time constraint. Terrence Chin-Loy '14 writes about our experience:

Which choir has the willpower and drive to wake up by 6 AM and be ready to sing beautifully for a crowd full of scrutinizing conductors at 10 AM? The Yale Glee Club. 

This past weekend, the Glee Club performed at the ACDA’s (American Choral Directors Association) Northeast Conference. Numerous conductors were present representing an even larger number of people from their respective choirs. Performing in a room full of people who knew all about proper
cut-offs, correct placement of ‘s’es, and basically every other intricacy of choral singing was a daunting task and we prepared arduously to meet it.

On a beautiful Friday morning, we boarded the buses at 12:30 PM with the intention of leaving at 1 PM! Of course there were moans and groans about having to sing at 10 AM the next day, but I could sense that there was excitement in the air. After what felt like an eternity, we finally arrived in Providence and promptly entered the church where we would be singing. Only having thirty minutes of sound check, we ran through everything quickly. Our formation had taken on the form of nine rows on the oddly crowded steps. We are a large group, but we made ourselves fit!

After our sound check, we checked into our hotel. Some of us decided to explore a bit, some did work, and some took the ever-present option of sleeping. Soon it was time for dinner and we all enjoyed each others’ company over lots of pizza. Little did we know an amazing concert was around the corner.

Jeff looking out for his crew
(proof story time actually happened)
As part of the ACDA concert, a group called I Fagiolini came as guest performers. Although they market themselves as an early music group, they sang everything from Monteverdi to a new work entitled Cries of London (this concert even included the Beatles!). The concert really pumped us up for our own concert the next day. Upon arrival to the hotel, Jeff read us a bedtime story from Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book to aid in our quest for slumber.

The next morning, we all regrouped and had breakfast in our hotel and headed straight out to Providence College where most of us would experience the earliest vocal warm-up of our lives. Only around 7:30 AM, some were still fighting to believe the early start to the day was real. Miraculously, however, we managed to sound great. Everything seemed to be coming together and it was then that I knew we would have a great performance.

The moment, we stepped on stage, I thought about all the choral conductors in the audience and what their conceptions of a Yale group were. Did they believe us to simply be “smart kids who couldn’t really sing”? Were they going to compare us to choir schools like Westminster? This performance was not a competition, but it was our chance to show what our choir could do. The set that Jeff chose was a wonderful mixture of pieces. We began with the thrilling Zephyr Rounds, followed by the Howells Requiem. Robert Vuichard, the composer of the former piece was in the audience and stood up for us in gratitude once we completed it. We ended the set with two American pieces: All the Pretty Little Horses and My Journey Home. After our final booming chord, the crowd began to find their way to their feet, culminating in a standing ovation. I couldn’t have been more proud of the Glee Club. Jeff clearly felt the same way.

Back at home, before parting ways, we sang Bright College Years to mark the end to a great weekend. One thing I realized about this past weekend’s concert was that although we didn’t have much down time, I really enjoyed spending time with everyone away from school. Strange as it may sound, I find myself excited for the next time we have to sing at 10 AM.