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 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.
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)
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.