The Harvard Glee Club’s 2017 New Years Tour to East Asia

Hey, everyone! We’re so excited for our 2017 tour to Asia!

Over the course of three weeks, from just after Christmas (December 27) to the beginning of spring semester (January 21), we’ll be visiting Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan!

Here’s a couple of highlights that you can look forward to over those three weeks:

Taipei, Taiwan – We’ll be performing our first concert in the National Concert Hall in Taipei! Completed in 1987, the National Concert Hall was one of the first major modern performing venues established in Asia.

Can't wait to sing along with this amazing organ! (Source: Wikipedia)
Can’t wait to sing along with this amazing organ! (Source: Wikipedia)

Seoul, South Korea – We’ll be doing multiple workshops at the Korean International School, and later a concert with the Yonsei University Glee Club! Yonsei University has a history of working with international glee clubs like ours, and we can’t wait to make music with them!

Shout out to the ladies in Cliffenotes! (Source: Yonsei Glee Club’s YT Channel )

Gunsan, South Korea- We’ll be doing another concert with the Professional Gunsan Civic Chorale!

Osaka, Japan- We’ll be performing at the Izumi Hall, a concert hall modeled after the home of the Vienna Philharmonic!

The hall can fit almost 2,000 people!
The hall can fit almost 2,000 people! (Source: Osaka Tourism)

Kyoto, Japan – We’ll be holding a concert with one of our longtime friends, the Kyoto University Glee Club! Alumni from HGC and the Kyoto Glee Club get together quite often to sing together in the spirit of glee, and we’re honored to be continuing this friendship!

Here’s a video of alumni from the two clubs in 2009! (Source: William Cheng)

Tokyo, Japan – In Japan’s capital, we’ll be performing a concert in Kioi Hall! We’ll also be performing in Sakura Hall with the Waseda Glee Club!

Koriyama, Japan – Our final concert will be in cooperation with Japanese public TV company NHK, with HGC alum and Japanese TV personality Patrick Harlan MC’ing!

Look at this handsome man! (Source: Japan Times)
Look at this handsome man! (Source: Japan Times)

That’s a quick highlight of what we’re looking forward to bringing you as the tour goes on. Stay tuned for more information!

Day 7 : A day in Steamboat

Skiing, hot springs, libraries, hikes, downtown shops and restaurants: there were many things we enjoyed doing in Steamboat Springs. Even better: it big yet light snowflakes fell all day, shrouding all our outdoor explorations in an eerie magic.

I got to see a moose for the first time!
I got to see a moose for the first time!

Almost half of the group went skiing that day, and with the help of our hosts this turned out to be completely free. What an incredible treat! For some people it was their first or second time skiing, and they bravely got up from many falls to get down those slopes. The skiing crew got back weary in the evening, but with a ton of fun memories.

Matthew prepares to go down a slope
Matthew prepares to go down a slope

Others (when they could get their hands on good shoes) went on short hikes to enjoy the majestic views of the mountains surrounding Steamboat Springs. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed a walk along the Yampa river and a hike to an abandoned uranium mine higher in the mountains.

But the most popular destination were the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a 30 minute drive from downtown. Three separate groups took the trip. First we took a shuttle that drove along the bumpy and snowy dirt road (quite an interesting ride), then we arrived at the beautiful picturesque springs.

Eduardo and John arrive at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs
Eduardo and John arrive at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Being in a 100 degree hot pool while snow falls on your shoulders is a surreal experience. John, Eduardo and I even got to sing some impromptu pieces to the tourists at the hot springs.

Our president enjoying the 98 degree waters
Our president enjoying the 98 degree waters

All gleeks had a festive St Patrick day’s evening, be it downtown or at home with their hosts.

Day 6 : The road to Steamboat Springs

A beautiful travel day to Steamboat Springs followed by a memorable concert in the Strings Pavilion was what awaited us on day six.

Unfortunately bad luck did strike: our fearless tour manager Quincy along with Bernie, Luran and yours truly all had a bad case of food poisoning (we had all made the mistake of eating at a Golden Coral two days earlier) Quincy was the last to become sick and did not take the bus with us, instead joining us two days later in Denver. In memorial our poet laureate John Griffin composed alternative lyrics for Quincy’s solo, “So fades the lovely, blooming flower”:

“So pukes the lovely, poisoned Q,
Sweet, fevered tour man oh so true,
So soon his nausea leaves him far,
Now we must sing these, first few bars”

During the beautiful drive out of New Mexico and through Colorado, John also appropriately launched the limerick contest. Winners would be announced on our way to Denver.

The ride was an occasion to watch the landscape slowly turn from red or yellow rock formations to white snowy mountains (and “Kill Bill volume 1”).

 

The road seems endless but is always changing
The road seems endless but is always changing

 

Finally after our arrival at the Strings Pavilion we had our rehearsal, followed by pizza for dinner and our 7:30 PM concert. The house was close to full and we had a lot of fun singing in that concert space.

The beautiful Strings Pavilion is world renowned
The beautiful Strings Pavilion is world renowned

When our hosts then snatched us and took us back home we discovered a closely-knit community at Steamboat Springs. We prepared excitedly for the next day where many would go skiing.

Day 5 : Santa Fe and the Scottish Rite Temple

A morning free in Santa Fe is completely different from one in Phoenix: they are so different in style and size! This morning we were able to explore much of downtown with its old churches and chapels, art galleries, history museums, arts and crafts traditions, all the while admiring the pueblo architecture.

A shop in Santa Fe
A shop in Santa Fe

The bus picked us up at half past noon to bring us to the Santa Fe high school for a choral workshop with one of their choirs. Our conductor Harris led a warm up session and a short interactive rehearsal. Then they sung us their favorite songs, and we sung some of ours songs. Both groups had a lot of fun sharing the music.

The choral workshop with Santa Fe high schoolers
The choral workshop with Santa Fe high schoolers

We all had a shot at eating the traditional Santa Fe food with red or green chile sauce that former member Tag Murphy so eloquently described to us in a pamphlet for the tour. It was indeed quite a culinary experience. About half of the group decided to go out of their way at Tomasita’s. We sung to the restaurant as a thanks. However our time was short and we had to run across all downtown to get back to the Scottish Rite temple in time for rehearsal.

The group joins in Glee at Tomasita's
The group joins in Glee at Tomasita’s

What a beautiful hall! With its moorish architecture, the velvety and finely decorated room has a great acoustic. We had a very rewarding rehearsal.

Lite rehearses choreography for "Stacy's Mom"
Lite rehearses choreography for “Stacy’s Mom”
After a dinner break, we all got into tuxes
After a dinner break, we all got into tuxes
Some still need help with their bow ties!
Some still need help with their bow ties!

We finally performed in what I think was our best performance so far. The audience was fantastic, and during our singing there were moments where I felt the magic just happen.

For some of us this was the best concert we've had so far
The Harvard Glee Club performs

After the concert our hosts drove us to a warm reception in a small art gallery. We had a fun time talking with our hosts and enjoyed coming out of our “musical high”.

Fine looking gentlemen, one must say
Fine looking gentlemen, one must say

 

Day 3 : Camelback Church

On day three we performed at Camelback church, widely renowned for its acoustics. However we first had our morning off. Some gleeks decided to walk up the top of Camelback Mountain, a short but intense experience with more scrambling over rocks than actual walking. But the trail was a lot of fun and the view incredible.

2016-03-13 18.52.04
Gleeks cross paths on the Camelback Mountain “echo canyon” trail
10288730_10205972192919611_3871202139200152648_n
Jay made it to the top of a mountain!
2016-03-13 19.04.31
Gleeks on their way down (as I make my way up as fast as I can)

After lunch we all met at Camelback church in semi-formals right after the Sunday service people were trickling out. Before they departed, we thanked what had been our first hosts on tour in the only way we saw fitting: by singing to them. Thank you for the terrific time and great generosity!

We rehearsed in the church: a completely different acoustic from the MIM. We prepared a set list for a 3PM concert including Duruflé’s “Messe Cum Jubilo” for Baritone choir. The concert itself went very well. Pictures are upcoming!

That night we were hosted by people from the Camelback church, in a completely different part of Phoenix. After a shared dinner, some gleeks went out on an evening adventure to explore southern Scottsdale before we left Phoenix the following morning.

Day 2 : Phoenix and the MIM

Cactuses? Cacti? Whatever they are called, we saw plenty of them in the beautiful Phoenix landscapes.

Noah and Andrew can't quite match the height of the Saguaro cactus!
Noah and Andrew can’t quite match the height of the Saguaro cactus!

Our days were free for exploring until 4pm, and everyone had a unique experience. I hear stories of Gleeks who went hiking up the dusty mountain trails or in Papago Park; others visited museums, tried out a shooting range, or even went scorpion hunting. On my end, I saw a wonderful sampling of Arizona wilderness in the Botanical Garden. We all enjoyed the “cold” day Phoenix had to offer.

Plants putting on their spring apparel in the Botanic Gardens of Papago park
Plants putting on their spring apparel in the Botanic Gardens of Papago park
An intrepid Adrian makes his way down a butte
An intrepid Adrian makes his way down a butte
Teddy and Eduardo can see all of Papago park
Teddy and Eduardo can see all of Papago park

The Musical Instrument Museum (or MIM), gave us free passes before our rehearsal. As the day progressed, more and more gleeks trickled into the beautiful galleries exposing musical traditions, instruments, video and audio from all around the globe. We wandered in the museum for as long as possible.

The "octobass" at the MIM
The “octobass”, the MIM

At 4pm we met in the concert hall for rehearsal. The very good acoustics had us singing on our toes.

Nick at rehearsal
Nick embracing stardom at rehearsal

Lite, the a cappella subset, also rehearsed their repertoire before the concert. We were all excited and slightly nervous with our first concert fast approaching.

Lite rehearses before the concert
Lite rehearses before the concert

The concert itself was a fantastic experience for both us singers and the audience. We sung Renaissance counterpoint, folk tunes, spirituals, Harvard specialties and much more, and the full house was very responsive to our engagement, music, and silly jokes being thrown around during announcements.

Lite sings "Fat Bottomed Girls" feat. John Miller
Lite sings “Fat Bottomed Girls” feat. John Miller

After a fulfilling first concert we made it back to our hosts’ houses, and enjoyed our first post-concert night.

Wand’ring to find a temple for his praise…

tour photo
Our tour poster, congrats to Dennis Zhang for the artistic design!

Welcome to the official tour blog of the Harvard Glee Club! This site, maintained by our Chronicler, archives our shenanigans while we’re on tour. As getting people to send pictures is sometimes a slow process, more pictures will appear as the tour goes along, so don’t forget to check out for updates. Finally, feel free to read up on past tours as well in the archives!

921176_10153307107397455_7498026548744061631_o

Day 1 : The Plane

It’s 7:45am and the Harvard Glee Club members are crowding the T stop with their luggage, coats, and bags. Groggy from the late night packing, the last few stragglers arrive. We finally set out toward the American South West, where a formidable adventure awaits!

 

Waiting at the T-stop
Waiting at the T-stop
Quincy Cason, our Tour Manager, is ready to roll
Quincy Cason, our Tour Manager, is ready to roll

We must have filled half of the aircraft on our flights. Apart from a short stop in Detroit, a good portion of the Glee Club will remember very little from that flight.

Some catch up on the sleep lost from housing day
Some catch up on the sleep lost on housing day

Upon our arrival in phoenix, a pink striped bus took us to Scottsdale where we met our hosts. We all went our own way and made exciting plans for the next day. Tour is about to begin!

Our bus arrives in Scottsdale where our hosts wait
Our bus arrives in Scottsdale where our hosts await