While some members enjoyed the option to sleep in this morning, others woke up bright and early to go to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum on a party bus. Apparently the bus company overbooked all its regular busses, so they sent us a party bus for transport to the art musem.
ST ’18: Day 4, Winona
ST ’18: Day 3, St. Paul
Coming off a late night, the Glee Club started the day a little behind schedule. But by car, subway, and light rail eventually everyone arrived at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Paul. We then participated in three consecutive workshops with choruses of elementary, middle, and high schoolers. In one workshop we learned the song This Little Planet and sang it as a round with the middle school choir before adding original dance moves and having a sing/dance off. A different group performed an arrangement of Michael Jackson’s classic Man in the Mirror and before long the Glee Club enthusiastically joined them in song to create a truly touching moment. The conductor of the school’s singing program Siri told her students that the Glee Club showed that music can be an important part of your life even when you get and even if you do not intend to be a professional musician.
After having completed the three workshop classes, the Glee Club had some free time to explore the city of St. Paul. Gleeks flocked to the Science Museum, the Cathedral of St. Paul, the state capitol building, and the Schubert Club Museum.
In the afternoon the Glee Club gave a short performance at the Boys and Girls Club of St. Paul to an audience of kids and teachers while standing behind a purple Prince mural.
The performance became interactive when Gleeks and kids sang a round/mash-up of children’s songs. Afterwards, the Glee Club participated in a final workshop with Commusication, an after school music program for the St. Paul area in which students meet at least three times a week to rehearse singing and piano under the musical direction of Ryan Laboy. Commusication seeks to be accessible to all youth, create great music, and offer a welcoming community; it recently performed alongside Leslie Odom Jr. at Super Bowl LII. The students in commusication were incredibly well-focussed and simultaneously having a really fun time. With them we played a game that involved practicing proper singing posture and we also learned a song Draw the Circle Wide, which the students explained was about inclusion, accepting each other no matter our differences, and how we’re all stronger together.
Today’s activities with various youth singing groups exemplified the power of music to bring people from very different backgrounds together to create something beautiful out of love.
-J. Finley Ong ’21
ST ’18: Day 2, St. Paul
Despite losing an hour of sleep to daylight savings, the Glee Club began the day early and in spritely form at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of St. Paul. We showcased some of our sacred and spiritual repertoire ranging from William Cornysh’s Ave Maria Mater Dei from Renaissance England to Fenno Heath’s arrangement of the American spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. The service opened with a gorgeous organ prelude from our accompanist Tom Sheehan and closed unconventionally with an ecstatic performance of the Japanese folk song Mogami Gawa. Between the first and second church services members of the glee club spoke with members of Gloria Dei’s congregation about music, Harvard, and Minnesota among many other topics over much-needed mugs of coffee.
After church the glee club travelled to the Mall of America, the 4,870,000 square foot monument to consumerism big enough to fit seven Yankee Stadiums (Wiki). After eating a quick lunch Gleeks descended upon the mall. Some spent their time browsing the mall’s over 500 stores, while others rode roller coasters in the Nickelodeon Universe theme park or played a round of mini golf.
In the evening the Glee Club returned to Macalester to prepare for the evenings concert. We had a conversation with Michael McGaghie, HGC alumnus and former resident director, about some of his most salient memories in the Glee Club and about points of change and continuity during his long time with the Glee Club.
By 7:30 PM the gents had donned their white tie and tails and taken front row seats with an absolutely packed house to listen to a wonderful set from the Macalester Concert Choir. Afterwards, the Glee Club took the stage. This concert being the first major performance of tour, we performed with incredible energy. This concert included the world premiere of the Benedictus from the Davison Mass by Carson Cooman, a modern take on a traditional missa brevis that captures a unnerving sense of deep uncertainty. The Glee Club will perform the entirety of the mass, written for a men’s choir, treble-bass choir, and two organs, on Sunday, April 15 with the Boys Choir of All Saints at Ashmont at Parish of All Saints, 209 Ashmont St, Dorchester Center, MA. Oliver Berliner ’19 made his debut concert performance as conductor of Harvard Glee Club Lite. The Glee Club finished its set with the Football Songs and an enthusiastic crew of alumni including former president Eduardo Cabral ’16 joined us in song. The concert concluded with a combined performance between the Glee Club and the Macalester Concert Choir of Unclouded Day.
After the performance choristers and gleeks alike celebrated the performance in a manner that can certainly be described as raudimus.
-J. Finley Ong ’21
American Midwest Spring Tour 2018: Day 1, Boston to St. Paul
Here it is. My senior year, and my final Harvard Glee Club Spring tour. This year, we are traveling from Minneapolis to Chicago, by way of Winona, MN and Milwaukee, WI. It’s been a long first day, so let’s get into it.
Tour began, as it typically does, with an early morning flight out of Boston. So, at 4:15 AM, all the bleary-eyed, sleep deprived Glee Club singers received their tour booklet (containing pertinent travel details and information about places of interest) and boarded shuttles to Boston Logan.
That previous sentence brings me much happiness, because for once, every single member of the Glee Club was present and on time. That is a strikingly rare occurrence for the Glee Club, and it seemed to be a fortuitous start to the tour. One unfortunate contributing factor to our timeliness was that a couple of my fellow singers were not able to join us on tour, making this group the smallest group I’ve traveled with in my four years. It is a big change from last year, when I was with the largest group I had traveled with, and I was a bit sad that we would be missing some valued members of the Glee Club for this first leg. However, the loss of more baritones than tenors or basses restored equilibrium between sections that the Glee Club has not experienced in years; later in the day our faithful and fearless conductor Andy Clark likened conducting this well-balanced choir to driving a Rolls Royce or Ferrari.
Once we arrived at the airport, we all made it to the gate and on-board (after navigating some issues regarding tickets and the maximum dimensions of a carry-on bag). The flight to Chicago went smoothly, and I managed to complete a crossword puzzle while on board the plane. Many of the Glee Club members took this as an opportunity to catch up on an abbreviated night of sleep, or finally fall asleep after staying awake through the previous night. After a brief Starbucks visit and a 55 minute flight from Chicago to Minneapolis, we disembarked and met Mike McGaghie, the choral director of Macalester College. He was there to meet us, but also our conductor, resident conductor, and accompanist. They took off to get to the campus early, while the Glee Club hopped on the tour bus for the short ride to the college.
Brief aside about the Minneapolis airport: for some reason, Chinese is the second language printed on most of the signage, though there are few Chinese people as far as I could tell from the small sample of people I saw at the airport.
It was a cloudy day in Minnesota, and although I was later told that much of the snow had melted, there was a solid couple of inches still on the ground. The pale blue light made it difficult to know what time of day it was, and that combined with our abnormally early start to the day actually made it easier for me to enjoy the experience of travel, rather than trying to worry about the work I would have to do during tour to be on track once I got back to campus.
We were dropped off at the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, where we deposited our bags in the orchestra room, then went to the choir room to have our lunch (Papa John’s Pizza). I can’t draw any deeper connections between those rooms uses and their respective music ensembles, but I leave that as an exercise for the reader. After lunch, we went into the concert hall to begin our afternoon of rehearsing.
The concert hall, as our conductor put it, has a very “wet” acoustic, which to me meant that it is reverberant, and fairly generous in terms of making the Glee Club sound good. It’s far from cavernous, and I think will make for a welcoming first concert. We ran through our set-list for our concert before being joined by the Macalester Concert Coir.
The Macalester Concert Choir is close to my heart for two reasons. 1) Its conductor Mike McGaghie was a member of the Glee Club and its resident conductor for several years before I arrived at Harvard. He was also in attendance at the Considering Matthew Shepard performance in Spring 2016 and at the performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with Emmanuel Music this February. 2) One of my friends from high school choir, Corbin Dodd, is in his fourth year in the Concert Choir, and will be going on his final tour with them. Our joint concert will represent Macalester’s send-off concert, and my first time performing with Corbin since singing with him in Spain.
Dr. MaGaghie led us through a brief rehearsal of our combined piece, and then we were free to eat delicious pita, hummus, and chicken kabobs while getting to know the members from the other choir. As might be expected, we had a lot of similar interests: performing arts and choir tours, but also abstract mathematics and teaching. We wrapped up the evening after dinner by thanking our hosts with a “Domine,” and then dispersed into our homestays.
Tomorrow: HGC goes to church (the Christian kind), church (the capitalist kind), and church (the music kind).
Written by Curtis Wu ’18, Photography by Rowen VonPlagenhoef ’21, Edited by J. Finley Ong ’21
NYT ’17, Korea Day 3 : Concert with the Gunsan Civic Chorale
We left early after breakfast on January 5th for the city of Gunsan, a three hour drive south from Seoul. It’s a smaller, coastal town, right next to the US Air Force base. Our bus had a large, flatscreen TV, and during the first half of the drive, we watched K-Pop videos and a documentary about an isolated tribe that fished and hunted using bows and clubs, and roasted a monkey over a fire for food. We stopped to stretch our legs and use the bathroom after an hour-and-a-half, and people purchased a variety of snacks for the rest of the ride. I myself got a bag of walnut-shaped red bean cakes. They had a soft, golden brown exterior, and the filling had bits of walnut throughout.
When we arrived in Gunsan, we had lunch at a restaurant named “Arirang,” which is also one of the pieces we were singing in Korea. It’s a popular folk tune about a mountain pass, and most everybody in Korea is familiar with it. After lunch, we drove to the meeting point for our housing. According to the best approximate translation, we were going to be staying in Korean guest houses, sort of like a bed and breakfast joint. There were mats on the floor for us to sleep on, a spartan bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower, and not much space for anything else. We just had time to say hi to our hosts and grab our music and tails before we were whisked off to the Gunsan Art Center.
The Art Center is a surprisingly expansive public work for such a small town. It was constructed in 2013, so its sleek, angular design was a bit incongruous next to the rest of the town, which was a bit smaller and more traditional. The other peculiar thing about the stage was that there was a large thrust, which made the audience seem far away. When we entered, we met the Gunsan Civic Chorale, a professional chorus, and rehearsed our joint pieces with them.
After the joint rehearsal, we had a bit of time to ourselves on the stage, and we went through our own set.
Next on the schedule was dinner, a buffet at a place known for their pork cutlets. All-you-can-eat is always a good choice for the Glee Club, and we filled up on all kinds of tasty food.
The Gunsan Civic Chorale performed first during the concert, and it was then that we realized how good of a choir they were. During our rehearsal with them, our singing mixed in with their singing, making it hard to hear their group sound. When they were in performance mode, they were astounding. Dynamics, phrasing, tempo, pitch, and energy were just right. They got the most out of every piece, and their soloists were quite impressive.
When it was our turn to go on, we knew we had to rise to the occasion. On the whole, we did. It was our best concert on tour so far, and during the football songs, the audience got in on the performance by clapping, albeit off-tempo.
Our finale, the joint performance of the Gunsan conductor’s arrangement of “Arirang,” was also received quite well.
After the performance, we attended a reception with the Chorus, during which time they gave us a plaque from the city of Gunsan, a framed commemorative poster from the concert, and food.
We mingled with the other chorus, and even took a couple of photos with them (kimchi!). At the end, there was a raffle, and several of us won fun prizes, like fans and paper crafts, which they claimed by doing some dance moves.
Afterward, we returned to our guest houses, where we were greeted by our hosts. Many of them had attended the concert, and they all praised our performance, which was a good way to end the day.
Author: Curtis Wu
NYT ’17, Korea Day 2 : Day of Activities at the Korean International School
Today we had very unique and special day of exchange with the students of the Korean International school (a K through 12 Anglophone school based in Seoul). We were all assigned to lead workshops that were attended by the students of the school; a golden opportunity for us to talk about our interests, learn from the Korean students, and try our hand at teaching kids – and indeed, it is not that easy! On their side, the students from KIS were able to learn about Harvard, new challenging or fun topics, and meet and interact with us all.
The morning we all rose from our bunk beds and congregated for an 8am breakfast in one of the Korean International School cafeterias. The place was already bustling with students from the school receiving their meal; but though the line was long, the service was extremely efficient: we received a hodge-podge of items including cereal, juice, mushroom soup, ham, toast, salad, and fruit, all in one tray with slots of various shapes in sizes. Made me realize I miss high school cafeteria!
Immediately after breakfast we were shown around some the school premises by Javier, our liaison at the school. We were grateful for the tour: the campus was decently big (I myself managed to get hopelessly lost later on in the day, only to be saved by the personnel around). As we went along the tour we dispersed into the rooms in which we were to give our workshops. Half of the Glee Club was assigned to a morning session, while the other half was free to roam and prepare an afternoon session, and after lunch break the groups switched.
The workshops included more musical activities such as singing, composing, sight-reading, but also a broad variety of other topics including Logic and Reasoning, Basics of Computer Science, Applying to an American College, Basketball, and explanations about Life at Harvard – the latter being by far the most attended.
One group taught a workshop on music composition, and had to improvise quickly when their pupils were much younger than expected. Thanks to the elementary school’s music facilities (xylophones and drums) they still had a fun time.
My group broached the topic of logic and reasoning. We gave them various puzzles, showed them the AND, OR and NOT tables, and even showed them some mathematical magic card tricks to make them work out the mechanism.
A final group including our conductor Harris Ipock gave a vocal performance workshop. It was fun and interactive for the kids, and a small impromptu performance was given.
After the workshops, we congregated for a rehearsal in the school auditorium. We prepared for a shorter evening recital, and then had our second dinner in South Korea: pizza!
After the more intense experience of the first concert in Taipei, we felt rather relaxed about the second concert, and we had a lot of fun in the process.
A highlight: our president Quincy Cason, upon announcing his role, is hailed by a general “oooo!” from the audience, and is then immediately hit by a spotlight; President of the Harvard Glee Club has an impressive ring to it for sure.
A few minutes after we stepped off the stage, we were surprised by a person telling us: “the audience is still clapping, they are waiting for an encore!” Lite was frantically reassembled and performed one more song to the cheers of the crowd.
We mingled among the crowd as it left the hall, providing an occasion for many selfies and group photos. Finally we were greeted by the school officials including the founder of the school, for whom we sung our domine as a thanks for the fantastic exchange.
After the recital, a sizeable portion of gleeks went to the Gangnam district to hang out and try chicken feet stew and soju (for the adventurous).
As a close to the evening, we retreated to dorms, played cards, did our laundry chatted, and prepared our suitcases for the early departure next morning. We were coming back to the dorms in a few days (and looking forward to it!) so we thankfully could pack lighter.
Author: Jeffery Durand
NYT ’17, Korea Day 1 : Travel to Seoul and Korean BBQ
After a memorable (or maybe not so memorable for some) night at Party World karaoke in Taipei, it was time to head out for the next city on our trip — Seoul, South Korea. After a smooth check-in process at the Taoyuan International Airport, we were all set to board our Air Korea flight to Incheon International Airport. Aboard this flight we had our first experience with Korean hospitality – although the flight was short, the flight attendants took very good care of us. I was impressed by the frequency with which we were offered food and drink, as well as the fluency of the flight attendants in English, Chinese, and Korean. Our trip concluded with pleasantly short wait times for customs and baggage claim at the airport in Seoul.
On the way to our accommodations in Korea, it became obvious how cold it was outside as the glass began to fog up on the interior of the bus. Though this blocked our view of the landscape, it provided an opportunity for some to begin planning for tomorrow’s workshops at the Korean International School, and for others to rest. We took some time to rest at a Korean barbeque restaurant on the way – this was to be our first meal in Korea. I was with the group that was given floor mats to sit on, but one could immediately notice that the floor mats were heated from underneath – how nice is it to be able to sit on the floor without being cold!
We were given sheets of meat to cook and cut ourselves (though we were aided by the waiter); served with an assortment of condiments and side dishes, the delicious meat was aggressively seasoned and definitely the highlight of the dinner, eaten alone or in a lettuce wrap (I was told that the vegetarians enjoyed their meal too). The servers at the restaurant were attentive and accommodating of the obvious language barrier; however, it soon surfaced that a number of the servers were Chinese-Korean and spoke fluent Chinese, and some fun conversation followed.
Soon after we re-boarded the bus, we arrived at the Korean International School and were shown our accommodations. The majority of us were to be housed in spacious four-person dormitory rooms’ bunk beds. Though more modest than our Taipei accommodations, these rooms will certainly allow us a comfortable stay in Seoul; however, we noticed a few interesting quirks as soon as we arrived. First, the floor was again heated! This made going barefoot in the bedroom quite comfortable, making it easy for us to respect this aspect of Korean etiquette. Second, Wi-Fi was not available in the bedrooms! This forces students to congregate in common areas for web access, promoting the social scene at the school in a manner both clever and astounding. That night, we engaged in various activities, including planning for the next day’s workshops with the Korean International School students, an outing to Gangnam, a poker night, and a Sherlock (the TV series) watching party.
Overall, a fantastic first day in Korea.
Author: Jimmy Jiang
NYT ’17, Taiwan Day 6 : Concert at the National Concert Hall
On the day of our first concert of tour, January 2nd, we had a free morning to do as we wished. Some gleeks decided to go hiking up elephant mountain, others took a visit to the Taipei City Mall, and still others took a trip up to the top of the famous Taipei 101 building with some of the fastest elevators in the world.
We met after lunch to take the buses to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. We took group photos both inside and outside the beautiful National Concert Hall Conveniently we all coordinated and wore our great tour shirts (designed by the talented Dennis Zhang). Here is the full group on the steps of the Taipei National Concert Hall:
The Concert Hall had an incredible pipe organ taking up the wall behind the stage, and the room had wonderful acoustics: one of the best in the country, we were told. Here we are on the stage:
At long last we had a sound check to prepare for our concert in the concert hall. We ran through the critical parts of the repertoire and made sure we had everything under our belt.
After the sound check, we had a dinner consisting of a box with sushi rolls. The people in charge of our dinner learned only after they ordered that we were headed to Japan next! We changed into our clothes and prepared to perform in the concert hall at 7pm.
Overall, it was a fantastic concert. Since it was both the first concert on tour and a high profile concert hall, we were all a little nervous, but the adrenaline gave energy to our music. However we were a bit put off by the icy cold silence after our first piece; unbeknownst to us, an announcer had before our arrival on stage asked the audience to keep their applause until the end of a section! But as the concert unravelled, it was clearly a success. Lite’s A Cappella was beautiful; and probably the single moment that garnered the most applause was Jasper Johnson’s translations of announcements into Chinese. It was a great concert to start off the tour.
We were all very excited in the backstage to have performed our first concert: I for one was most nervous about this concert in particular, and we had risen to expectations. It was then time to say goodbye to the concert hall.
That night after the concert, we were taken to a karaoke event at Party World, where we were treated by Albert Ting himself to two large reserved rooms, as well as food and drinks throughout the night. The gleeks enjoyed themselves in the singing and drinking, a joyous end to a strong first concert day.
Author: Sean Park and Jeffery Durand
NYT ’17, Korea Day 7 : Travel to Japan
[A quick note: sincere apologies for the big delay in the blog updates. We will be updating all the previous missing days very soon in addition to the upcoming days]
The morning was spent busy packing in the KIS dormitories, along with a final breakfast in the busy highschool cafeteria for those that had the courage or energy left to wake up. Some, including myself, were a bit late to laundry process, and had to resort to laying out socks, underwear and shirts on the heated floor to make them dry faster than on the racks! Finally we met at 10:30am and loaded the two buses, and bid our farewell to the amazing KIS staff with our traditional “Domine Salvum Fac.” We set on the final leg of our journey: to Japan, the land of the Rising Sun!
The travel to Japan – with a bus ride to the airport, plane ride to Osaka KIX, and bus ride to Osaka – was itself uneventful, many of us using the time to catch up on sleep. We all unanimously enjoyed the quality of the Korean Air service, with on-flight entertainment and quality snacks served despite the flight being about an hour long. The club was hailed at the arrival gate by a team from the Shin Osaka Youth Hostel, where we were to spend our night. We were surprised at the length of the bus ride to the hostel, and so were grateful to finally make it to our small yet confortable hostel rooms: our first bedroom in Japan!
The group dispersed for dinner, with a contingent following Taggart Murphy (who was in the Glee Club during the Europe tour of ’73, was now living in Japan for almost 40 years, and had played a critical role in the planning of this tour) to the lively area of Kita-Ku. Back at the hostel, despite the very spotty wifi, we all enjoyed games (especially card games), conversations, and the manga library before setting to bed, with tomorrow’s explorations and concert in mind.
[More pictures coming soon!]
Author: Jeffery Durand