Texas Winter Tour: Texas School for the Visually Blind and Impaired, Day 7

Here’s a quick update from our previous couple days of tour (the backlog of which should be posted without the next day).

Tuesday began with an early workshop at St. John’s United Methodist Church, where the combined choirs did singing exercises to warm up tired voices before polishing some music to be sung over the next several days. That meeting however, transitioned into an incredible opportunity to workshop with the renowned composer and conductor, Craig Hella Johnson, whose work, “Stray Birds,” featured prominently in Glee Club repertoire over the past semester. Craig’s charisma and kindness were present as he began the session with a poem speaking to the tremendous beauty of individuality.

Gleeks look on as Craig delves into a piece by Daniel Gawthrop. pc Dhilan Ramaprasad ’21

Gleeks preformed “There is Sweet Music Here” by Daniel Gawthrop for Craig and spent the next several minutes working through how vowel shape can express emotion. After the workshop, singers had the opportunity to have lunch with Craig and singers in his group, Conspirare. The entire experience interacting with Craig and his singers will truly be one of the highlights of the tour, and HGC is extremely thankful for their time and advice.

From St. John’s, HGC traveled to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an institution dedicated to helping educate those with visual disabilities throughout the state with students often staying there for the entire week before traveling for return home to their families each weekend. Singers were warmly and enthusiastically received by the crowd and had the opportunity to share some of their favorite pieces from the repertoire over the fifty minutes we had before taking some audience questions. Gleeks left feeling as if they had gaimed more from the students they met there than imparted.

HGC finished the day with a dinner graciously provided by the family of Harry Sage ‘22 in their home, followed by the traditional (or so I’m told) viewing of Mean Girls by the group.

-Jay Sastry ’22


Texas Winter Tour: A Breather, Day 6

Coming off a long day, many Gleeks slept in, choosing to recharge after a hectic week. In a bit of a scheduling quirk, HGC had a rare day off this Martin Luther King Jr. Day and took the opportunity to explore the wonderful city of Austin.

Among the biggest highlights of the day, included the UT Austin Campus, the State Capitol building, and the trail along the river. Many Gleeks ended their day by attending RCS’s fantastic concert with the Austin Girl’s Choir at Shepard of the Hill Church outside Austin.

Below is a selection of photos from the day (pc: Westley Cook ’20)

Martin Luther King Jr. Statue at UT Austin.
A group at the State Capitol building,
The trail along the river.

Texas Winter Tour: Sunday Services and Concert, Day 5

Leaving the hotel ar 7.30 in the morning, HGC arrived at Highland Park ready for a quick sound check with RCS. With the first Sunday service beginning at 8:45, singers brushed up on Felices Ter (Thompson), Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Moore), and the second movement of the Poulenc Gloria. HGC and RCS led the congregation through the early morning service with more energy than was expected for such an early start. That momentum carried through the second service which began after an hour break. Throughout the morning, the congregation remained extremely engaged, a notable example being an extremely devout spin instructor who managed to attend both services (or so the homilist said).

After the last service, singers had the opportunity to rest over lunch in the youth center of the church (from which House common room designers could probably take some notes). As expected, Glee Club members immediately gravitated towards the games in the youth center including Super Smash Bros, air hockey, and table tennis. Shortly after a sound check, the choruses gathered one final time in the sanctuary for an afternoon concert. Beginning with the entirety of the Poulenc Gloria, RCD moved into their set which ended with the Radcliffe alma mater. After performances from Cliffnotes (the RCS subset) and HGC Lite, Gleeks took to the stage for their part of the concert, beginning with the Victoria and ending with Football Songs. As a finale, both choruses and alumni took the stage for one last time for a rendition of Fair Harvard.

After the concert, tired singers scarfed down a pizza dinner and then boarded buses destined for Austin (about a 3 hour ride) where they would meet their wonderful homestay hosts before going to bed (a sequence of events that resulted in this tardy update to the tour blog).

—Jay Sastry ‘22

Texas Winter Tour: HGC and RCS in Dallas, Day 4

Today, HGC left homestays bright and early (as has been a regular occurrence) to congregate at FWAFA before boarding a bus to Highland Park Presbyterian Church. Upon arriving in the sanctuary, Gleeks met their RCS friends to begin rehearsal on the joint pieces to be preformed at Sunday services and a concert tomorrow (more details in the description from the menu above). After several hours of work running through a variety of pieces (with most emphasis on the Poulenc Gloria), singers emerged for much needed break and a quick taco lunch. From there, the combined choruses returned to the sanctuary for a final run through of future songs

HGC and RCS in rehearsal.

After checking in at the hotel, Gleeks had the rest of the afternoon to explore downtown Dallas with a large group heading first to the Dallas Museum of Art. From there, we wandered toward the John F. Kennedy memorial before returning to the hotel. Others went to a local movie theater to see On the Basis of Sex (featuring the Harvard Glee Club singing Ten Thousand Men). That evening, singers turned in early to rest up before the long day to come.

Texas Winter Tour: Concert with the Texas Boys Choir, Day 3

The third day of tour began bright and early for Gleeks as they traveled from homestays to the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. Situated in South Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts or FWAFA (FFF-WAH-FAH) as it is referred to by locals is home to the talented Texas Boys Choir. Practicing for two hours, five days a week, the Texas Boys Choir is among the most prestigious singing groups in the region. At FWAFA, HGC reunited with our conductor, Andy, to polish up a few pieces to be sung for an assembly of the entire FWAFA student body–a group whose enthusiasm manifested in greeting HGC with shouts of “Radcliffe” during the Harvardiana Suite. After the concert, singers engaged in a Q&A session with FWAFA students on subjects ranging from favorite repertoire to Sicko Bomba (whatever that means).

    HGC at FWAFA, pc Dylan Zhou ‘22.

From there, Gleeks went to another rehearsal to check on the status of the joint repertoire to be performed in conjunction with the tenor-bass component of the Texas Boys Choir (If Ye Love Me by Tallis and The Lamb by Fenno Heath). After rehearsal, HGC proceeded to a pizza lunch with members of the Texas Boys Choir.  Gleeks left FWAFA excited about their collaboration later that day and secure in the knowledge that uttering the phrase “I know Joey Toker ” would result in instant street cred with any FWAFA student.


Singers returned to Broadway Baptist Church later that afternoon to rehearse for the concert that evening. Coming at an ideal time, Gleeks then had a mid-afternoon break to recuperate and explore the surrounding area.

Gleeks visit a local park during break.

After a final sound check with the Texas Boys Choir, HGC had dinner with the students before changing into tails. Beginning with Stray Birds by Craig Hella Johnson and O Regem Coeli by Tomas Luis de Victoria, the concert was an excellent opening to tour and an amazing opportunity to collaborate with such a dedicated group as the Texas Boys Choir. From Broadway Baptist Church, Gleeks returned to their homestays to rest before rejoining RCS in Dallas the next day.

-Jay Sastry ’22

Texas Winter Tour: First Rehearsal in Broadway Baptist Church, Day 2

Having spent the first night in at the Best Western in Addison, the Glee Club began its morning packing and getting breakfast. From there, tenors and basses bid goodbye to their RCS companions who would be leaving for Dallas later that day. From there, Gleeks took a bus (driven by the wonderful Pam) to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. Featuring a vast of collection of pieces from around the world, the Kimbell Art Museum had something of interest for every singer.

Members of HGC line up for a  photo at the museum.

After finding lunch around the museum (who knew Oliver ’20 would find a Denny’s?!), Gleeks returned to the bus, departing for Broadway Baptist Church. Broadway Baptist Church is among the most recognizable places of worship in the area, founded in 1882. It has the biggest pipe organ in Texas with more than 10,000 pipes. After arriving, singers dived into a crash course rehearsal to review old material and prepare new repertoire for upcoming collaborations.

Broadway Baptist Church.
Resident Conductor, Nathan Reiff, leads HGC in rehearsal

Tomorrow, HGC begins their early day at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts before returning Broadway Baptist Church for a concert with the Texas Boy Choir (tickets and info in the menu above).

-Jay Sastry ’22

Texas Winter Tour 2019: Singers Converge on Dallas, Day 1

With the Harvard Glee Club on tour again comes another installment of HGC tour blog along with a new tour blog writer. I am a freshman, making this my first time on tour with HGC. I look forward to all the experiences, memories, and music that will be made over the next week and a half. The presence of the Radcliffe Choral Society with us over the next several days—the first joint tour in several decades—merely adds to the excitement.

Day 1 began as most winter tours do with singers flying from around to world to meet at the first stop with students arriving in Dallas over the course of the day.

A large Boston contingent of excited singers awaits take off.

Upon arriving at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, singers made their way toward the Best Western Plus Dallas/Addison in small bunches as hunger and patience dictated. (Note to prospective travelers: There are no food establishments available to travelers after leaving the main terminal…) After the largest group arrived shortly after midday, singers remaining at the airport took a bus to the hotel.

Students arrive at the Best Western, eager to explore the surrounding area.

Management arrived early, ready to smooth over any logistical problems. Manager Samuel Hsiang ’20 and Librarian Nathan Robinson ’20, anticipating the potential for absent-minded, music-forgetting gleeks (not as if that could ever happen) came prepared with extra music and began their day with a run to the nearest Staples to acquire spare binders.

Nathan Robinson contemplates what he would do in the unlikely event singers forgot their music.

Singers spent the afternoon getting lunch and walking around Addison with a large contingent, led by green-spaces-enthusiast Patrick Braga GSD ’20, visiting several local parks. After returning to the hotel that evening, HGC and RCS settled down for a catered lasgana dinner before returning to their rooms to catch-up.

Combined HGC-RCS 2019 Texas Tour Poster, designed by .

After an exciting and restful evening (an inverse relationship for many gleeks), singers settle in for the night ready to begin rehearsal for their first concert the next day.

-Jay Sastry ’22


ST ’18: Day 8, Chicago

We woke up and it was St. Patrick’s Day in the Windy City! We made our way to the spectacular Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago. The chapel boasted an awesome display of unconventionally colored (mostly muted, light hues of purple, green, and blue) stained glass windows.

Rockefeller Chapel

The concert began at 2:00 PM. Our accompanist opened the show by providing Adrian Berliner G4 a D on the piano so that he could begin his solo in Mogamigawa. But, rather than begin the Japanese folk song Adrian started singing a classic sea chanty From Boston Harbor much to the surprise of our faithful conductor. Andy caught on quickly and began to conduct the song appropriately, but little did he know that once the chorus arrived the entire glee club would speed up the tempo and start swinging eighths. Thoroughly bewildered, Andy smiled and tried as best he could to keep up with the shenanigans. When the song reached the final verse, the Glee Club stared menacingly at its conductor as it solemnly sang “And the one thing we shall have to crave is that he may have a watery grave. So we’ll heave him down in some dark hole where the sharks will have his body and the devil have his soul.” But the piece ended on an upbeat note with a “Yo heave ho, to row row, wind aloft and rum below.” Andy took the tour prank very well and graciously bowed for the slightly confused audience.

After a week of shows and rehearsals the Glee Club gave a truly emotional, yet refined performance. The organ and chapel provided an amazing opportunity to sing the Benedictus of the Cooman mass. One highlight was surely the singing of an arrangement of Sondheim’s Not While I’m Around.

After the show the Glee Club had the opportunity to explore the city of Chicago on one of the most festive days of the year. People dispersed to see the green river and cloud gate, to try authentic Chicago deep dish pizza, and to spend some time with friends and family in the area. In the evening a good time was had by all but the gleeks tucked in on the early side to be ready for the next day’s flight home to Boston.

ST ’18: Day 7, Milwaukee to Chicago

Our host took us to the Original Pancake House for breakfast this morning. During my time in Milwaukee, I saw connections to Pittsburgh in many areas – the focus on industrial manufacturing as a source of wealth for the city, the intersection of three rivers, and its rebirth as a place focused on environmental research and sustainability. This restaurant was yet another reminder of Pittsburgh, because it was a favorite breakfast location of my family.

After breakfast, we were dropped off for our morning gig at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The new Calatrava addition, build in 2001, seemed like a precursor to the New York Oculus. The 36 fins composing the bris de soleil was down when we arrived, but they lifted it in time for the performance, which let a bit more light into the room.

As today is the 160th birthday of the Glee Club, our conductor led us through a program tracing the development of the Glee Club to its present form. We sounded pretty good for a morning concert, though I expect the echoing acoustics of the museum helped with that.

After the concert, docents took us around in small groups to see the museum. We had a pitifully short amount of time to look at all the artwork, but our docent did his best to hit the major sections of the museum and cover the general history of the provenance of their collection. I took a few notes, which can be seen below:

Notes on the Milwaukee Art Museum:

  1. Sofinisba Anguissola – female artist, portrait painter
  2. Portrait of Henry III of France’s mignons
  3. “Interesting painting which has made its way to Milwaukee” – favorite phrase of the docent
  4. Philippe de Champaigne – only one allowed to paint Richilieu
  5. Andien de Clermont famous for monkey room paintings
  6. Frederick Lipton was buying academic art, which wasn’t super popular, at the same time Chicago was buying impressionists
    1. Bouguereau was an interesting academic artist
    2. Bastien-Lapage pre-dated impressionists, hated by academic artists but still classified with them
  7. “Bawdy tales, but in a German way, much more reserved.”
  8. Georgia O’Keefe would come to museum to look at her paintings, alone, then leave. She lived in WI for a little bit
  9. Joan Mitchell – synesthesia, not a nice woman, “if you were a man, French, & dead, people would like you”
  10. A little background on how museum security works
  11. Drossos P. Skyllas – never sold a painting, strange portraits, no brushstrokes
  12. August Walla – schizophrenic, raised as a girl to avoid draft, swastika and hammer/sickle : feminine & masculine
  13. Earthquake in Haiti makes Milwaukee collection of Haitian art much more valuable
  14. “Kohl’s Art Generation Studio”
  15. Kehinde Wiley: St. Dionysus (docent says it is St. Claire), men posed as women, did Obama’s portrait
  16. Reginald Baylor – Adaptation of annunciation, “On duty, not driving”, does paint-by-number

We departed straight from the museum to Northwestern, our last little bit of travel.  After a brief stop for lunch, we arrived at Northwestern’s Bienen school; a new building of concrete and glass right on the river. I dropped off my luggage with my family, then intended to go to a meet-and-greet with the arts group, The Crossing, we would watch this evening. However, they needed more time to practice, and I ended up getting an early dinner at 527 Cafe, next door to the sadly vacant rooms of what used to be Joy Yee.

While I was waiting for the performance, I happened to run into two high school classmates who were studying music, and we chatted briefly about how we were doing. Then we settled into the balcony for The Crossing’s performance of Anonymous Man and Rigwreck. The first was incredibly rhythmically interesting, if not so interesting melodically, while the second one was a little more conventional musically, but had absolutely arresting and extremely political and religious language. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on it after more reflection. For now though, I am being hosted by my extended family, and it is time to turn in for the night.

-Curtis Wu ’18

ST ’18: Day 6, Milwaukee

Day 6 brought the end of our stay in the Winona Days inn, and the beginning of a four hour bus ride to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The first part of our drive was along the Mississippi, before the crossing of a bridge into Wisconsin. The Mississippi was on our left, and on the right, melting snow had refrozen on the embankment next to the road, forming rows of icicles.

I slept a little, finished Brown Girl Dreaming, and made some more progress in Winter. The first conclusive sign of our arrival in Milwaukee was Miller Park, home to the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.

We pulled up to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (interesting point of note: the church is the same age as the Glee Club), and dropped our stuff in a room pointed out to us by the pastor. Next on the schedule was lunch, but the pastor inquired if we had a “musical grace.” This left us momentarily confused, but we realized that he was asking if we had any songs for blessing the food. We didn’t, but we ended up singing “Mogamigawa,” and that earned us a sloppy joe, potatoes, bacon and cheddar macaroni salad, and carrot and turkey soup.

During lunch, we chatted with the pastor; he had recently moved to Milwaukee from New Orleans, where he had been for 15 years, and was also a singer (basso profundo, as he put it). After lunch, we had a brief rehearsal and sound check. Because the organ was by the entrance to the church, the time it took for the organ’s sound to reach the choir (and our sound to reach the organ) led to some timing issues. We had to work out two transitions to get the choir up to the loft and back down, which caused some frustration. Fortunately, we had some time to relax and get changed before our performance that evening.

The performance was a bit shaky at the beginning; I think the fatigue from traveling, the new standing arrangement, and the small audience threw the group for a bit. However, the concert came together, particularly toward the end, when we performed “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” as an encore.

The church provided dinner and dessert to us, again after a rendition of “Mogamigawa.” We chowed down on tacos and chips and fruit, and I chose a slice of carrot cake as my dessert. At the end of the dinner, the pastor bode us farewell with a sung benediction, and the phrase, “I’m going to do something the devil has never done.” To which we replied, “What?” “Leave you.” He also gave us a CD of himself singing. Of course, we thanked him and another church member with a “Domine” for all their help setting up the concert.

Our host drove us through the city, past Marquette University and Lake Michigan, as we made our way to his home. We also stopped at Kopp’s, a custard shop in the building where Happy Days was filmed, and I got a Swiss chocolate custard, my second dessert of the night. When we arrived at his home, we met his family and chatted a bit before going to bed.

-Curtis Wu ’18