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!

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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

Whew!

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