Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Montreal and Burlington Mini-tour 2015!

Wednesday, January 7th, 6:00am. The temperature is about 20 degrees below freezing, and it's still dark outside. The Glee Clubbers who have just returned from their three week respite from the stresses of college life gather in the new Glee Club office for bagels and coffee (as well as orange juice for those who got there early) before heading onto the buses for the six-hour drive to Montreal. Some sleep while others do their DS reading, and all partake in devouring the array of snacks that our tour managers, Jane Strauch and Emma Hathaway, bought especially for the trip. We make a short stop at a rest-stop before continuing to the border, where we get through without trouble. (Although lamentably, we do not receive a Canadian stamp on our passports...definitely a disappointment for some members of the group.)

And so we crossed over into Canada!

When we arrived in Montreal, the first thing we saw was snow. Snow in the streets, snow on the sidewalks (apparently they don't shovel in Montreal? Although I can't say I blame them...they'd be there all day) and of course snow falling from the sky. It was quite beautiful, although it did mean that we would have to trudge through the slush to find our "lunch on own." I was expecting it to be cold--but wow! Canadians must be made of some tougher stuff to brave those winters every year. 

After eating lunch we met at the Notre Dame cathedral, where we got a tour of the church. The exterior was modeled after the famous Notre Dame in Paris, and the inside was absolutely gorgeous! Here are some photos of the interior and the altarpiece. 

 After seeing the church we headed over to the hotel to check in and drop off our things before going to dinner. The restaurant seemed to specialize in savory crepes, and I must say, they were delicious. Satisfied and full of crepes, the Glee Club headed back onto the bus to go to the skating rink for some fun! (Well, fun for some, at least.) It became painfully obvious early on that some of us were amazing skaters (I'm looking at you, Cecelia!) while others were riding that struggle bus, or rather, clinging onto that struggle bus, in an attempt to stay upright while sort of shuffling/sliding along with the general flow of traffic. (That would be me.) Thankfully, the Glee Club is not only a group of amazing singers, but of amazing friends! Everyone helped each other out, holding hands with those who had no idea what they were doing (me, again) and were very encouraging to those who were having trouble. As someone who'd never skated before, I felt completely comfortable skating with the Glee Club, and considering how self-conscious I can be, that's saying something. So, thanks guys! You're the best.

Anyway, moving on! After skating we headed back to the hotel to get a good night's sleep to prepare for our rehearsal and then concert the next day. We took a bus to McGill University, where we rehearsed our repertoire before rehearsing the Brahms with the McGill University Chorus director, Francois Ouimet. Our hosts provided us with a free dinner from the university cafe, and then it was time for the concert! It was such fun to sing with the McGill choir, who gave us a taste of what the Brahms would sound like with all of the supernooms. (Supernooms are either past Glee Clubbers or other Yale students who sing with us for larger works) We had a great concert, and were happy to see some familiar faces--thanks again Ashby Cogan '14 and Marissa Karchin '14 for coming out!

The Yale Glee Club and McGill University Choir rehearsing the Brahms with Francois Ouimet

The morning after the concert we left for Burlington, Vermont, stopping on the way to visit the Ben and Jerry's Factory in Waterbury. As soon as we entered the building, we could smell the scent of waffle cones and chocolate permeating the air. It was glorious! The staff were nice enough to give us a free tour in exchange for singing a song, and Jeff decided that we should try singing "we all scream for ice-cream" to the tune of "Gaudeamus Igitur," a piece that has been in the repertoire since the founding of the Glee Club. We weren't sure if it would work exactly, but it turns out the Glee Club is not too bad with on the fly text underlay! After singing, we saw a short film on the history of Ben and Jerry's, then got to see how the ice-cream is made. At the end of the tour we each received a sample of their strawberry brownie ice-cream, before making our way to the cafe where many of us ordered our own cone or cup of their famous ice-cream.

After the tour we continued on to Burlington, where we broke off into groups and had lunch on our own before heading over to our concert venue, St. Michael's College. We rehearsed for a bit, had our traditional pep talk, and were shocked to hear from Nathaniel Geoffrey, our host and a Yale Glee Club alum, that the concert was completely sold out! We ended up bringing all of the chairs from the choir room where we'd been rehearsing to the lobby right outside the auditorium, where at least thirty people had been standing hoping to at least hear the concert. It's always great to sing for an audience that is excited to hear you--but excited enough to stand outside? Wow! It was a reminder of how special the music that we make is, and it also added an element of pressure to impress the audience. But of course, with Jeff conducting and dozens of hours of rehearsal under our belts, there was nothing to worry about. It was a great concert, not only musically, but in terms of the general enthusiasm. The lights were quite bright in the concert hall, and audience members were crammed right up to the stage, meaning that we were much closer to the audience than we usually are. And I must say, there's something truly special about seeing the expressions of the people in the audience, whether it was watching someone tear up at the climax of the "Agnus Dei" or others laugh at the witty poetry of "Telegram." It is at moments like these that I remember why we sing. This is why we spend all of those hours rehearsing and all of those months planning our tours. Because, in the end, it's not just about making beautiful music with each other, but it's about sharing that music with others and making an emotional connection with someone that we may have never nor ever will meet. There's something really special about that, and it's easy to forget that when we're just worrying about the next entrance or getting the cut-off exactly right.

Our concert in Burlington was a great end to our short three-day tour, and served as a teaser for our longer tour to Spain coming up in March. (I'll be doing lots of Facebook updates and some video blogging for that tour, so look out!) I just want to end this post by thanking everyone who helped make this tour possible, especially Jane Strauch, Emma Hathaway, Francois Ouimet, Nathaniel Geoffrey, T Sean Maher, and of course, our amazing conductor, Jeff. I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

With Glove,

Victoria Pierre