To the Bay and Beyond
Glee Club Winter Tour 2014:
Memories and Reflections
A Sampling of Harvard Glee Club Memories
from the 2014 Winter Term West Coast Tour
This sampling of sixteen members’ memories from the Harvard Glee Club’s 2014 January Tour to the West Coast encapsulates the central role tours play in the Glee Club experience. From the simple joy of warmer weather to great musical moments and profound human interactions, each of these recollections is a testament to the transformative experience that tour is for all involved. Tour gives Glee Club members the opportunity to come together as a group, to gain a broader perspective on life, and to learn from the kindness of those who make tour possible—chief among whom are the alumni whose generosity allowed this winter tour to take place without a member contribution. We hope these memories serve to underscore how much that kindness meant to the members of the Harvard Glee Club.
Nelson Barrette ’17, HGC Historian
My most memorable experiences are split. On one hand, HGC’s progressively impressive musical production. Equally moving, the wonderful array of generous and kind and interesting hosts. I spent much of Tour catching up with old friends, HGC and otherwise, while getting to know better the new ones currently in HGC. Extended family values—worth their weight in gold!
~ Bernard E. Kreger A.B. ’59 M.P.H. ’70
I so enjoyed our day traveling from Los Angeles to Escondido. We stopped at Taylor [Carol’s] house in Orange County. As I lay on the beach looking out at everyone, I realized that I finally knew all the guys with whom I had been singing for months. More than just names, class years, and majors, I had gotten to know their stories, aspirations, and humor. That night, I felt so connected to everyone as we performed at the Escondido Center for the Arts, and I knew that I had truly made friends for life.
~ Rob Harrington HLS ’14
My most memorable experience on tour was being able to spend a morning at Taylor Carol’s house in Dana Point, CA. It was here that I truly realized just how much the Glee Club transformed as a group over the course of tour. It wasn’t so much that we had a blast (playing football, soaking up the sun, and getting tossed by some pretty impressive waves) as it was that we had a blast TOGETHER. We had obviously sung together a lot on stage, but this togetherness on the beach was different. It was just pure fun, enjoying the company of so many new friends. As a freshman, this day was pivotal in making me truly feel like I was a real part of the group. Over the course of tour, we certainly became better singers, both collectively and individually, but I think we also became better people, and gained some great new friends along the way.
~ Ben Kelly ’17
The Road Less Traveled
One of my most memorable experiences has to be climbing Multnomah Falls and singing [Mendelssohn’s] “Beati Mortui” at the observation deck at the top. From what I understand, it is a Glee Club tradition to hike the trail, and now after having experienced it, I would urge that we continue it. The falls are breathtaking, particularly when mist shrouds the upper shelf as it did the day we were there, creating the illusion that the clear waters spring from the sky itself. The hike to the source provided plenty of scenic views and an opportunity to merge ourselves into the mosses, pines, and lichens that are so unique to the Pacific Northwest.
To me, personally, there has always been something special about singing outdoors. It has something to do with the way we mix our voices with the milieu of nature’s sounds to create something heavenly yet borne of earth. At the top of the falls, we sang. Mendelssohn’s lyrical melodies dissolved into the bubbling, churning stream and all together they cascaded over the edge and into the world below. To share such a spiritual experience with my friends and peers in the Harvard Glee Club made the moment all the more special. In that moment, we together announced ourselves to the world. In that moment, we made ourselves alive.
~ Felix Wu ’14
My favorite tour memory is singing [Mendelssohn’s] “Beati Mortui” as the sun set by the Muir Woods overlook. Watching the sunset over the Pacific, we sang as if honoring the beautiful sight. It had been a great day. We had spent some time in San Francisco, and on the Golden Gate Bridge. We had stood in awe of the tremendous redwoods. This was a day that deserved a fantastic capstone. We found this finale in the sunset over the Pacific. It was a powerful moment. There was no question that we would sing. The music we offered up at that point was not perfect, but it affected everyone who heard it. It was a true testament to the Harvard Glee Club’s mission. We bring our music with us wherever we go, whether it is concert halls or beaches, restaurants, or theaters.
~ Jacob Mueller ’17
In San Francisco, a large group of guys rented a car and drove to Muir National Forest. On the way back, we stopped at Muir Beach Overlook just in time to catch the sun setting over the Pacific. I’ve seen plenty of sunsets in my life, but the combination of good luck, companionship, and beauty really stuck with me. That image will always be emblematic of the tour for me.
~ Jared Lucky ’15
While we were in Oregon, a bunch of us went to Multnomah Falls and climbed the mountain there. I’ve never really been one for heights, but climbed the mountain anyway, and am very glad I did. We sang a bit on the bridge leading to the hiking trail, and then we ascended up through the mist. When we got to the top of the mountain, there was something transcendent about standing hundreds of feet above sea level, the ground obscured by fog, walking about together in the woods below the summit. Mere steps away from us were drops into hundreds of feet of fog. Being so high above the world and so far away from Cambridge, one could view things with a clearer perspective.
Once we’d descended the mountain, we ate in the lodge and sang “Happy Birthday” to a waitress, who was crying as we sang. We later learned that her emotion was two-fold: she was happy for the birthday wishes, but also had falsely believed that she’d been called there to be fired, on her birthday. We got to surprise her with a bit of a different outcome, thankfully.
~ John Griffin ’16
The Kindness of Strangers
My home-stay in Portland, Oregon was with an elderly couple. While having no particular ties to the Glee Club, they took Conrad Shock, Ben Kelly and me into their home, wined and dined us, bought us bus tickets to head downtown, and spent hours talking with us about their life stories, dispositions, and hopes for the future. Our hostess made so much food my own mother would have been proud! Before eating our final dinner, our host, being of Irish descent, offered to us an old travelers blessing, “May the road rise up to meet you.” At that moment I understood what their hospitality meant to me and how fortunate I was to be cared for as family by total strangers.
~Aaron Pelz ’16
One experience that really stands out was staying with the family in Grass Valley, CA, that housed me, Trevor Nash, and Ben Barnett for several nights. Our hosts were actually raising their two grandchildren, who attended a high school where we had done a choral workshop. While we stayed with them, we slept outside the house in their camper (which was actually very comfortable), but they took every pain to make us feel at home and to show us their home town, taking us on scenic drives, making us snacks, and sending us off with a nice card. On the last day, our host mom really opened up to us about what the family had been through, and how difficult it had been to pick-up the pieces when she and her husband had to assume full care of their grandkids. It was a very touching moment, and I’ll never forget how willing those people were to share their lives with a few strangers.
~ Jared Lucky ’15
The most unforgettable experience was staying with a host family in Grass Valley, CA, with two other members of the Glee Club. At first glance, our hosts appeared to be a typical couple: middle-aged and middle-class with teenage kids. But I would soon realize that they were extraordinary people. Upon arriving at their home, the husband informed us that one of their children, John, had a genetic disorder. I went inside and soon met John, at least to the extent that he could be “met;” he could barely talk and didn’t respond to others less persistent than his father. John’s mother then offered ice cream to us, which we gratefully accepted. As we ate, I witnessed firsthand their struggle: two parents tirelessly trying to reach an unreachable child. The night went on, and we gradually heard more about John: his misdiagnosis with autism, his health issues, his seizures that happened “like clockwork.” I could hear the flashes of stress in their voices. But at the same time I also detected their great strength. Two parents, through their love of a child and love for each other, were constantly winning their difficult daily battles. I doubt that I will ever forget that family, those superheroes; they will be a model of strength and love for the rest of my life. I am still touched by their willingness to host, and their great hospitality. And I will always be indebted to the Harvard Glee Club for making such a life-changing experience possible.
~ Michael Patterson ’17
January 18, 2014 was my 21st birthday. We were in Escondido for the penultimate performance on tour. My host, Patrick, had this lovely home in the mountains to which he welcomed me twice: once on my pre-tour and then again when the rest of the group came. He remembered from our first meeting that it would be my birthday when we next saw each other, and he planned a special post-concert wine, cheese, and dessert party for me and the other Gleeks who stayed with him. It was a perfect and classy way to usher in a new stage of life, and I’ll never forget the care and enthusiasm he showed toward us.
~ Keon Pearson ’15
Making Beautiful Music Together
Our last concert was in this massive church in San Diego, set into a slight slope. As we processed forward passed the pews, we approached the most beautiful window at the front of the church. The glass was not stained or colored, just beautifully set and divided in a way that framed the sloping trees and sky behind. Throughout the rehearsal, we stood fifty-plus feet in front of this window, with our backs to it. But for a single piece, we walked back towards the pews before the window, arranged as if they were rays emerging forth from the glass. The setting sun bled through the pane, subdued but pure, and framed the scene behind, a painting where all negative space was warm orange and yellow, soft, serene. I suddenly felt just so… happy. Then we were in place, singing again.
I still don’t know what made that moment something special to me. Maybe tour makes me sentimental (more likely just Glee Club). Whatever the reason, though, I learned it’s the small things that you never forget, that you never regret.
~ Conrad Shock ’15
Our concert in Altadena with the Young Men’s Ensemble of the LA Children’s Chorus was one of the emotional highs of the tour for me. After a challenging performance the night before in Westwood I think I and many others were a bit discouraged and unsure of how we would do. Would we bounce back? Or would we let nerves get the best of us again. I really felt that the bonding that had gone on during tour, the desire to sing with each other and sing for each other helped us to refocus that night and put together an amazing concert with the YME. We sang some of our pieces the best we’d ever had, and when we combined with the YME for “Glorious Apollo,” I knew we had completed something special for us, and something that the audience truly appreciated. The lesson I’ve taken from the experience is that we are not defined by one performance, one test, or any one event in life. Challenges are inevitable but having true friends to rely on during those times of adversity is a blessing because with them there will always be hope to bounce back better than before.
~ Daniel Park ’15
The experience I most remember from tour was the alumni sing and banquet following our Grace Cathedral concert. Not only was the fare delectable, but we had the chance to see some old and not-so-old familiar faces and meet many new ones! I had my repertoire wish granted when we sang [Palestrina’s] “Sicut Cervus” and singing had never been so much fun as it was that night. Finally, I saw for myself what kept people coming back well beyond their college days.
~ Emmett Jao ’14
The World Beyond Harvard
At our final stop in San Diego, some other Gleeks and I stayed with a group of three avocado-growing families. Our stay with these families remains my most vivid memory of the West Coast Tour for a number of reasons. For one thing, our hosts were incredibly welcoming and generous. Staying with them for a night was an absolute pleasure. But more importantly, they were really excited about avocados. Now don’t get me wrong, I too can get excited about avocados. They’re green and delicious—what’s not to like? But then in the grand scheme of things, avocados don’t really seem that important to me. This hasn’t really changed, but after two hours’ worth of touring the groves with our energetic hosts, I think I do have a new appreciation for what living on a farm in an agricultural area can be like, and it seems awesome. From clean air and quiet nights to Glee Club Concerts and San Diego’s arts scene, living on a farm an hour outside of a city really seemed great. What I’m trying to say is that the West Coast Tour opened my eyes to what life outside Harvard can be like. Where I couldn’t really see myself anywhere but in some major city in a research laboratory or in some big office before, I now more clearly realize how many other options exist.
~ Martin Reindl ’15
The moment I got off the bus in San Francisco is a moment I will never forget. The dreariness of the cold was getting to me, not only the cold in Boston, but the cold of my home in Rochester, Minnesota, where I had been up until the tour started. As I stepped off the bus a light breeze hit me and I realized that I did not have to wear the sweatshirt I had on. I ripped it off, enjoying the sun. Seventy degrees! It had been negative 50 in Minnesota. As a native of not Minnesota, but Brazil, the realization that warmth existed in the United States was mind boggling. As I warmed, so did my demeanor and outlook on the day. As we explored the town I took my time. We actually ended up missing the boat to Alcatraz; however I was not discouraged—I knew that someday I would undoubtedly be back in that wonderful city.
~ Eduardo Cabral ’16
On tour, our hosts were truly glad to have us with them, and the opportunity to enter not only their homes, but also into their lives, was truly unforgettable for me. Meeting an elderly Portland couple that proudly displayed a lifetime of pictures and posters on their walls, seeing how a group of Seattle choir singers lived together in curious harmony, and visiting a cabin in the woods of Grass Valley where the owner had carved out his own hiking trail, were all unique insights into the different ways people find fulfillment in their lives. Thus, through my home stays, I gained an understanding of the range of lives people lead, and how I may one day choose to live my own.
~ Benjamin Lopez ’15