Thursday, December 18, 2014

Yale Glee Club Outreach!

Here is a blog post written by one of our co-CEO's (community engagement officers), Alison Levosky, about a recent outreach event that Glee Clubbers took part in. Read below!


About two weeks ago, a few members of the Glee Club had the privilege of traveling to City College Academy of the Arts (CCAA), a secondary school in Manhattan, where they were excited to be able to use their musical experiences to work with some of the students there. Martin Toomajian, who is a Yale alum (JE '06) and directs the glee club and the musical theatre at CCAA, reached out to the Community Engagement Officers of the YGC, Dan Rubins and I. Together, we were able to plan a very meaningful event for all involved.

The day's schedule was full of both fun and serious musical work: Glee Clubbers sang a few Yale songs for the CCAA students, and then the students sang and danced for the Glee Clubbers to show their hard work in preparation for their upcoming musical, Once Upon a Mattress. Then, the YGC members quickly learned the end of the finale of the musical and sang with the students to help them gain confidence for the end of their show. Next, the middle school and high school students broke off into different groups with the different YGC singers, and they had a chance to ask questions about music, or college, or Yale, or anything else they could think of! Finally, the groups came together to sing a combination of the alma maters of Yale and CCAA.

While the schedule sounds busy, it was so much more than a busy day for these Glee Clubbers, who also had a concert at the Yale Club the same night. One of our singers said, "Besides helping the kids with their music, I think our presence was really impactful in the sense that a lot of them expressed a happy surprise that we were personable and excited to talk to them - it seemed to take some of the scariness out of "College" for them, and a lot of what we told them about our own high school and college experiences showed them that they're more ready than they think." This seemed true for all of the groups; the students were so excited to be able to work with the Yale students, hear them sing, and realize that we are not so different from them.

Another singer mentioned the power of music, noting that "it is such a beautiful thing to watch music connect people who barely know each other, but share a love for what seems to be such a basic human experience...and it wasn't just about us teaching them, but it was about them reminding us of the pure joy of participating in music together." And it was true - though the day was fairly short and the friendships were built in only a few hours, it is a day that the Glee Clubbers and the students will be inspired by for many days to come. 

In a season of giving gifts, we as the Glee Club would like to express our thankfulness for the music we have to give and to share with our community, and we look forward to more events in which music can strengthen the ties of our community - whether in Manhattan, New Haven, New England, or beyond.

Yale Club + Messiah + End of the Year Musings


What a semester. Finals are over, students are heading home, and the Glee Club gets a three week break before meeting again in New Haven to head over to Montreal and Burlington for Winter Tour! More about our tour plans at the end of the blog post. First, let's talk about the concerts!

On Friday, December 5th, we had our annual concert at the Yale Club in New York, which is arguably our favorite concert of the semester. Not only do they feed us delicious food catered by the Yale Club, but we get to sing in front of perhaps our most friendly audience that we get all year--Yale alumni. From the Yale Club decorated for the holidays, to singing carols with the audience in-between pieces during the concert, it's a concert that really puts us in the mood for the holidays. We walked into the room singing "Deck the Hall," and then tried as best we could to cram ourselves onto the platform meant to hold a group half our size. It's a struggle every year, but we always make it work! (Certainly we can't complain about not being able to hear one another) We sang many of the pieces that we sang at Princeton and Harvard, with the Chamber Singers performing the classic Christmas carol, "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming." The concert ended with the Football Medley and Bright College Years, and I must say its always heartwarming to see alumni of all ages waving their handkerchiefs in the air on "For God, for Country, and for Yale." It really reminds us that we're part of something bigger--of a tradition that goes back over a hundred years, and will hopefully continue for many more!

After our concert, we crossed the street and entered Grand Central Station, ready with our carol packets and fully warmed up from the previous hour of singing, to sing Christmas carols for the passersby. We look forward to our Grand Central caroling every year, and apparently so do other New Yorkers. (Some have even told me that they come every year to see us) Seeing how many people stopped to hear us sing--and how many were recording it on their phones--really reminded me of why we perform in the first place. Obviously, we love singing, but the reason we perform, at the heart of it, is to make people happy. You never know whose day you just made by singing something as simple as "Silent Night" right before they catch their train to go home after a long day at work. During the time of giving, sometimes the gift of music is one of the best gifts you can offer.

After a day of rest, Sunday rolled around, and it was time for the Messiah Sing-Along! Battell was absolutely packed, and everyone from the soloists to the conductors, to the YSO Chamber orchestra did a wonderful job! Sight reading Handel's fugues isn't always the easiest, but it's sure a great exercise in counting! Every year I swear I'm going to get better, but if there's been any progress, it's probably just that I've become a better sight reader. Oh well, at least enough people knew what they were doing so as to keep the momentum going!

With the Yale Club and Messiah concerts behind us, the official Glee Club Semester ended. It was a great semester full of new members, new music, and new memories. We'll be starting off the Spring Semester with a mini-tour to Montreal and Burlington (Montreal in January--let's go!) and We'll be touring from January 8th-11th. More information on the concert schedule and individual concert dates will be posted on the Facebook page. There will be periodic updates throughout tour on our daily activities, complete with photos and videos. (And this time, I promise not to lose my camera!) In the mean time, stay tuned for more information, and Happy Holidays everyone!

With Glove,
Victoria Pierre

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Yale-Harvard Concert 2014!

After a two and a half hour bus ride, the Yale Glee Club descended upon Cambridge!

We were greeted by our Harvard hosts upon our arrival, and were then shuttled off into the depths of Sanders Theatre to put away our things. For those of you who've never been, I have to say that Sanders is quite a beautiful place! The acoustics are much more friendly to us than they are at home in Woolsey, something that we figured out quickly once we began to rehearse in the space. After rehearsal we were treated by the Harvard Glee Club to pizza and salad (Although we were told earlier that we would be getting Panera...still don't know if that was a joke or simply poor planning) and then we put on our concert attire and gathered for the pep talk. What a pep talk! Dan Rubins wrote a Dr. Seuss style pep talk, in which he had a cute and/or funny line for each member of the Glee Club. If he wouldn't mind, I'd love to post it some time in the future! It was certainly a pep talk I'll never forget.

Now for the actual concert! After jogging onto the stage, we opened with our traditional "Gaudeamus," which is the oldest song in our repertoire that was sung by the original Yale Glee Club of 1861. Afterwards we sang two Angus Dei's--the first a setting by renaissance composer William Byrd, and the second a setting by Frank Martin, which we also sang at Harvard. If you've never heard them before, I suggest looking them up on Youtube! They're absolutely beautiful.

Then it was time for Chamber Singers! Last week at Princeton they sang Max Reger's "Nachtlied," but this week they changed it up with a Renaissance piece by Monteverdi. Once again, great job Max and the Chamber Singers! After the Chamber Singers' piece, we sang the two new pieces that we premiered at Princeton--"Telegram" and "Valentine for Hands"--and sang two Moses Hogan arrangements. The first was "Down by the Riverside," which featured three amazing soloists. Shout-out to Chris Valdez, Dayrin Jones, and Simon Horn for doing such an great job! You guys totally killed it. The second spiritual, "My Soul's Been Anchored," is one that we haven't sung since Family Weekend, but I'm glad that Jeff decided to pull it out again for this concert. It's one of my favorite pieces in this year's repertoire, and it's hard not to get excited when singing it! (But not too excited, or Jeff will start doing that thing where he looks intensely at his hands as he's conducting--which means that we're definitely NOT following his tempo...sorry Jeff!)

Then there were the Yale songs. Our president, Rachel Protacio, had three hilarious Eli Yale verses that made ample fun of Harvard without being too mean. I can't remember all of them, but I remember the last one being something like, "Tomorrow at The Game, I know Yale will be victorious" (Cue ten seconds of laughter from the Harvard crowd) "Which will make our week long Thanksgiving break all the more glorious." (School on Monday, anyone?) This was followed by the now traditional "Raise Your Voices" and the fight songs. Also, shout out to those who participated in this year's prank! It involved a Yale wizard defeating an evil Harvard student. I must admit that I've never seen Harry Potter so I may be missing something here...but I know that Yale is often compared to Hogwarts, so I got that part! Ripping off the Harvard t-shirt at the end was also a nice touch. Although I don't know the names of everyone who planned the prank, a special shout to Jeb and Eleanor for their hilarious performance!

Rachel Protacio singing "Eli Yale"

After our fight songs it was time for Harvard to take the stage. They sang a variety of music as well, with a mixture of spirituals, new music, and traditional choral repertoire. The Harvard Glee Club Lite also performed three songs, complete with choreography and air guitar playing. It's always interesting to listen to the same singers who just sang a renaissance piece sing modern pop music in the same concert. During their fight songs there was the traditional hissing and yelling "sucks!" whenever they sang the word "Harvard," but it was of course all in good fun. And traditions must continue!

To end the concert we joined the Harvard Glee Club on stage and sang each other's Alma Mater, along with any alumni who were in the audience. There were quite a few Glee Club alumni who came to the concert, so it was great to see some familiar faces among a mostly Harvard crowd. Thanks for the support guys!

All in all, it was another great concert, so congratulations everyone for a great performance. We may not have won the game, but we always win the concert. Our next event will be the Messiah Sing-Along at Battell Chapel on December 7th, and then our annual concert at the Yale Club in New York, which will mark the end of the Yale Glee Club season this semester. We'll then return in 2015 with a short tour to Montreal and Vermont--so be excited for that! Details to come.

Until Next Time,

Victoria Pierre

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Yale-Princeton Concert 2014

Wow, what a concert!

Not only did we premiere three new pieces--"Telegram," "Valentine for Hands," and "The World Meets Here," but the composers, and in the case of Telegram, the poet, were all present to hear their pieces sung for the first time in front of a live audience. "Telegram" is a setting of a poem by Annie Finch, put to music by the Pulitzer Prize and Grammy award winning composer Jennifer Higdon. Although Jennifer was unable to come to the premiere, we're so glad that Annie was able to make it! Another composer, winner of the Glee Club 2014 Emerging Composers Competition, Dale Trumbore, came all the way from California to hear the premiere of her piece, "Valentine for Hands." Last but not least, we premiered "The World Meets Here" by Scarlett Zuo, the Glee Club student conductor and winner of this year's Fenno Heath Award. So many premieres!

Besides the new music that was premiered, we also sang two beautiful sacred pieces. The first was the first movement of the Brahms "Ein Deutsches Requiem," and the second was the Angus Dei from Frank Martin's "Mass for Double Choir." The Brahms was accompanied by our very own Jonathan Rajaseelan and Tim Laciano, who played the four hands piano reduction written by Brahms himself. We'll be singing the entire Requiem next semester with a a full orchestra, so be on the lookout! The second piece, the Angus Dei, is a personal favorite of mine. We sang the Sanctus from the Martin Mass during the 2011-2012 season, so the seniors were especially excited to be singing another movement from Martin's gorgeous setting. It sounded especially beautiful tonight--singing in front of an audience gave it the extra "oomph" that it needed. Can't wait to sing it again at the Harvard concert!

We also sang some folk songs, one of which was a beautiful song about friendship, written by Jeff and dedicated to his son, entitled, "I'll Go With You." The second folk piece was "Unclouded Day," a fun spiritual that gives the Glee Club a chance to belt in a sacred harp style--and who doesn't love doing that? We also sang the traditional fight songs, accompanied by the annual prank. This year's prank involved a Glee Clubber in a tiger suit being led across the stage on a leash (it was very difficult to keep from laughing when he was all but pulled across the stage) which was greeted by the usual hissing from our rivals.

Then of course there was the premiere of this year's Chamber Singers! (You thought I was done with premieres didn't you?) Under the direction of the lovely Max Holmon, the Chamber singers sang "Nachtlied," a beautiful and harmonically challenging piece by the German composer Max Reger. Congratulations Max and the Chamber Singers on a great first performance!

The Chamber Singers performing "Nachtlied"

Then there was Princeton. Rivals though they may be, no one can deny that they sounded absolutely sublime. They sang a variety of music, ranging from Purcell's "Hear My Prayer" to English folk song "Seventeen Come Sunday" to a Gospel inspired setting of The Lord's Prayer.

All in all, it was a great concert, and a tradition that we hope will continue in the generations to come! Onward to Harvard!

With Glove,

Victoria Pierre

Monday, October 13, 2014

Family Weekend Concert 2014!

As Freshman First We Came to Yale...

On Saturday, October 11th, we had our annual Family Weekend Concert with the Yale Symphony Orchestra and the Yale Concert Band! We sang a variety of music, including the premier of a piece that Jeff arranged for us this year called, "I'll Go With You." Elias Bartholomew, a sophomore in the Glee Club, volunteered to write a short blog post about his experience. Read it below!

Woolsey Hall, filled silent with Yale families, alumni, music enthusiasts, and ornithologists, sat waiting. We, the 154th Yale Glee Club, ran in at a brisk clip. And, having bowed in perfect sync, we sang “Gaudeamus Igitur.” Though it is as old as the Glee Club (we know they sang it in 1861), this song rings true to me every time we perform it. “Gaudeamus” is a call to rejoice in the traditions that bring people together. Namely academia, but also, as was evident on Saturday night, music.  

After reminding ourselves that music was a great tradition, we rejoiced in it, singing the beautiful fourth movement from Brahms’ Ein Deustches Requiem (which is one of Jeff’s favorite pieces ever, so we kind of had to do it), the instant Douma classic “I’ll Go With You” (a setting of a traditional Shaker tune), and Moses Hogan’s powerful arrangement of “My Soul Is Anchored in The Lord,” which was the crowd favorite, as measured by the John Stoughton Newberry Applause-o-meter.

Celebrating yet more tradition, we finished the set out with classic Yale songs: “Eli Yale” and the Football Medley allowed us to explore our full dramatic range as an ensemble, and also showcased Rachel Protacio’s witty verse. We ended the concert as we always do, with “Bright College Years.” Afterwards, we dispersed to listen to the Yale Concert Band. Especially notable was their rendition of the first movement of the Carmina Burana, which was accompanied by a choir of great virtuosity and ingenuity.

(AKA, the Yale Glee Club, of course!) 
Thanks again Elias for sharing your experience! Next up is the Princeton concert!

With Glove, (Glee + Love)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

New Officers, New Glee Clubbers, and Mahler!

This blog has been long overdue, but for those of you who haven't been following us on Facebook, this blog will fill you in on what's been going on these first few weeks of school, and what the Glee Club has been up to!

First things first, I'll introduce our new officer core!

President: Rachel Protacio
Manager: Ellie Killiam
Alumni Coordinator: Lisa Zhang
Archivists: Paul Styslinger and Kiri Van Lengen-Welty
International Tour Managers: Max Bryski and Marianna Gailus
Mini-Tour Managers: Emma Hathaway and Jane Strauch
Outreach Chairs: Alison Levosky and Dan Rubins
Publicity Chair: Victoria Pierre
Social Chairs: Ruthie Prillaman and Alex Turner
Stage Manager: Brooke Lamell
Wardrobe Manager: Zoya Afridi
Student Conductor: Scarlett Zuo
Assistant Conductor: Max Holman

As you can see, this year we've got quite a large group! We've also created two new positions, that of Alumni Coordinator and Mini-Tour Managers. It was decided at the end of last year that having someone deal specifically with alumni related issues and plan alumni events would be much more efficient than having the president do so. We also decided to have two Glee Clubbers specifically plan mini-tour, as opposed to having the president and manager plan it, as we did last year. Having a larger officer core in general also means that more students can participate in student leadership than ever before. In short, we're very excited for the year to come!

Next on the agenda is our new members! Although most of the new members are freshmen, we also have a good number of sophomores, and a few upperclassmen as well. It's never too late to join Glee! The new members have already added so much to the group, and I'm really loving our new sound. Our first performance as a group was last night when we performed Mahler's Second Symphony with the Yale Philharmonia and the Yale Camerata.

It. Was. Amazing.

Shinik Hahm, the conductor of the Yale Philharmonia, is such a talented conductor, and it really showed through in last night's performance. Being able to collaborate with such phenomenal music ensembles is one of the many privileges of being in the Glee Club, and we get to do it not just once, but throughout the entire year! Although our next few concerts are mostly a capella, there are definitely some more choral and orchestral works in the making, so be on the lookout!

Until next time!

With Glove,
Victoria Pierre

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Banquet: O why doth time so quickly fly?

It's not a strange feeling on YGC tour to suddenly find yourself preparing for banquet after what seems like no time has passed since tour started. Yale students are all too familiar to how time seems to slow down in a struggle period and have it speed right past you when things finally relax. But banquet comes at the perfect time in our tours. Wrapping up the tail end of our domestic tour, banquet is the time to reminisce over newly formed memories, catch up on the last bit of craziness before heading home, and express the much deserved thanks to the many people who really made the tour possible. Oh, and I can't forget the singing too! We revisit old songs from past years, sing current pieces, and for some sight-reading pieces that were beloved from classes before. I hope you enjoy the snippets of video I managed to catch of our banquet at the Hotel Nacional. It was just as fun as it looks!

Always with glee-love,

Lisa Zhang
Publicity Chair

Carolina Cultural Exchange

On our last day in Cuba, we were first treated to a behind the scenes look of a Cuban cigar factory and learned how each handmade cigar was made from individual tobacco leaves to the richly aromatic cigars often coveted around the world. Unfortunately, we were unable to take any pictures or videos within the factory, however I can attest that the process is meticulous, organized, and remarkably productive. If I remember correctly, each day the factory can produce up to 20,000 (or 200,000?) cigars. Impressive, huh?

We later visited the Carolina choral groups, including the incredible Scola Cantorum Coralina, for a cultural exchange and informal concert. Among the performances, we were treated to an adorable children's choir, a mixed choir with members ranging from elementary school to high school, a high school choir, and, of course, the ridiculously amazing Schola Cantorum Carolina. Check out the videos below to see why!


Lisa Zhang
Publicity Chair

Concert and cars, lots of cars

On Thursday, our fourth day in Cuba, we performed our last concert in Old Havana in the Basilica Menor del Convento de San Francisco de Asis. The venue is a gorgeous space with high stone arches that really amped up the acoustics. We performed alongside Coro Entrevoces led by the delightful Digna Guerra. Their repertoire was a great amalgamation of challenging pieces, but what really stole the spotlight was an amazing rendition of a gospel piece led by a soloist who definitely hit a high E at the end! The video posted is the choir singing a Spanish piece we sang together at the end of their concert. They capture it's sweetness so perfectly and made it such a delight to sing with them during our concert :)

Classical Movements, the company that worked with us in planning this trip (as well as the trip to China last summer), has been essential in making this trip both as smooth and enjoyable as possible. They even arranged a surprise for us after our concert by arranging a ride in Old Havana in amazing retro cars for the entire glee club! It's probably one of my favorite moments of this tour - not only is the Habana nightlife stunningly beautiful, but I also think that's the only time I will ever dare to be in a speeding convertible with no seatbelt anywhere near my person. I know, I'm such a risk taker.

Still alive and kicking,
Lisa Zhang
Publicity Chair

Cultural Exchanges

Our fourth day in Cuba brought us back again to Habana after a blissful time in Matanzas, and on this day we visited the Escuela NAcional de Musica, a high school devoted to young musicians from all over Cuba to train them and prepare them for future studies and occupations as Cuba's finest musicians. Their presented a fantastic showcase for us, including a cello quartet, a clarinet ensemble, a jazz jam session, and girl's choir led by an extremely talented high school student. We, in return, performed for them a few pieces from our repertoire. On our last piece, El Guayaboso, many of the students joined us in a joint performance together. I can't have wished for a better unifying cultural exchange that this!

Lisa Zhang
Publicity Chair

Matanzas the Beautiful

On our third day in Cuba, we travelled to the city of Matanzas, which took about 2 hours to get to via bus. But the YGC wasn't complaining. In Matanzas, what we had waiting was well worth the travel. Not only did we spend a blissful hour in crystal clear blue waters of Varadero, but we were hosted by the Theoligical Seminary, which gave us a large and delicious homecooked meal. Later, we rehearsed and participate in a choral master class with Conductor Jose Antonio Mendez, who helped us on our rhythmic feel in El Guayaboso.

Later, at the concert, despite the extremely brutal conditions of being a full concert attire in the heat and humidity, we were lucky to hear the Coro de Camara de Matanzas perform beautiful renditions of their repertoire and perform in an amazing space. This might have been my favorite day of the entire tour, and hopefully you can see why down below!

with much glee,

Lisa Zhang
Publicity Chair

Monday, March 17, 2014


"...And on the third day, the Yale Glee Club arrived in Cuba, and it was good." - Jeff Douma (not really, but you can totally see him saying that, right?)

After the shortest international flight I have ever ridden (45 minutes!), we left Miami and arrived in Habana, Cuba! Thankfully, because of TSean's impeccable ability to cover all our bases, we were allowed into Cuba with ne'er a hitch.

After meeting our amazing tour guides, we ate a fantastic dinner and arrived at out hotel, Hotel Capri, which used to be a former mafia hotel. The following day, we were given a walking tour of old Habana, and at our lunch (which was again delicious), some lucky members of the glee club got to dance with the local dancing duo at the restaurant. Let's just say things got pretty crazy once the whole glee club decided to join in. Watch out for Dayrin, our YGC dancing star, handling his own in a dance battle with the sultry female salsa dancer!

ft. Claire Donnelley and Franklyn Zhu

ft. Abby Sneider and Will Benet

ft. YGC and Dayrin Jones

Pheww! That was a lot! 

Lisa Zhang

A glimpse of our Florida homestays!

What's great about domestic tour is that we get the amazing opportunity to meet new people through our homestay experiences. We are so grateful to all our homestays as they volunteer to welcome us into their homes (and their fridges), and often we get to have the most interesting conversations with them! Often, most homestays are either Yale alumni or members of the hosting organization. YGC members tend to have the best of times with homestays as each small group of students gets a unique experience, and our homestays in Miami were no exception. Notably, we had students stay at beachhouses, modern suburban houses, and even an estate on a private island! The video below is just one example of the many incredible experiences the YGC has with each homestay opportunity.

We cannot express our appreciate and gratitude enough for our homestays' kindness and generosity. We love getting to know you all, even if it's only for a few hours in the late evening over a bowl of icecream and a glass of white wine!

(yes...I said "condiment" instead of condominium. It was early.)


Lisa Zhang
Publicity Chair

Day 1: Miami, Florida!

Day 1 of Florida: MIAMI, TRIIICCCK!

The YGC thanked the weather gods the day we landed in Miami. Not only was it in the low 70s when we arrived in Florida, but we were lucky to spend a good two hours roaming the sandy beaches of Miami. Unfortunately for some of us, sunburns also happened to catch us by surprise. Here is just a short video of our first moments on the beach!

Lisa Zhang
Publicity Chair

paKIN! - Hello from after Florida-Cuba Tour!

Hello everyone!

Thank you for being so patient with the blog. I know it's been a bit radio-silent for a while, but rest assured many many videos from our past tour to Florida and Cuba will be arriving!

So much has happened in such a short time during our Spring Break. We've finally been able to break out the shorts after a bitter New Haven winter, subsequently got extremely sunburned, safely made it in and out of Cuba without the FBI storming in, and even came up with a new hashtag - #paKIN (if you listen closely to the soprano section in El Guayaboso, you'll get the reference). Just want to give a shout out to all the amazing work our manager TSean, our tour managers Rachel and Ellie, and Jeff have put into making this tour an absolute gem in YGC tour history. Cuba wouldn't have been the same without you guys!

Love from the bottom of our gleeful hearts,

Lisa Zhang and the rest of the YGC