— James Stephens ’92
With great anticipation, I traveled from Kansas City to attend my first football concert in nearly two decades this past Friday in Sanders Theatre. I had returned to Cambridge for the HGC 150th Anniversary and the Jim Marvin Retirement Celebration, but this time I was excited to hear the Glee Club in a regular concert. I was not disappointed, as the experience brought back waves of memories and good feelings.
The fun began with perusing the program. There are nineteen freshmen in the group, with nine basses. What a terrific foundation for the next four years. I noted that math and science concentrations are well represented in the Glee Club. Some poor junior is even concentrating in both chemistry and physics. But most surprising is the second tenor concentrating in pottery – wait, that’s Hanya Mahanya!
The 100-member, coed Princeton Glee Club was quite good, with its smaller Chamber Choir being exceptional. Most notable is the fact that their new conductor is a former King’s Singer. It will be interesting to see how he molds the group in years to come.
Even early in the academic year, the Harvard Glee Club sounded terrific. I was enthralled by the three beautiful Renaissance pieces that began their program, all edited by assistant conductor Mike McGaghie. The low bass sound in these songs was especially impressive.
My favorite pieces were the folk songs, including the raw power of The Agincourt Song (sing it with me: “Our king went forth to Normandy, with grace and might of chivalry…”) and the sweet harmonies of Shenandoah. It was special to hear yet again the rich sound of a male chorus. I am glad that we found an excellent conductor in Andy Clark who will carry on the Glee Club’s great musical tradition.
Some of the best fun is the raucousness of the football songs. During the Princeton songs, the Glee Clubbers hissed, clawed and meowed at the appropriate moments. The RCS members in the audience were also entertaining, as they held up handmade posters with sayings such as “You’re flat.” But the best poster was held aloft by the Glee Club’s associate conductor Kevin Leong, a Princeton alum who did not join them for their football songs, which explained his absence on stage with “Kevin has seen the light!”
Of course, I was on stage for the Harvard football songs. I noticed that Bernie Kreger was not one of the accompanists; instead, two talented undergraduates were at the piano, including a freshman who I later learned won the national spelling bee and may be another mathematical genius in the distinguished line of Noam Elkies! I especially enjoyed singing the football songs next to a freshman from Florida who, I could tell, first understood the power of these songs when surrounded by alums who sang them with such gusto and delight. The only distraction during the football songs was the orange flying projectiles thrown by the Princeton contingent – when did that bad practice begin?
After the concert, I enjoyed talking with Jim Marvin, who still remembered me and the fact that I hailed from Kansas. Then, it was on to Holden Chapel, where the HGC Foundation treated the alums to beer, soft pretzels, potato soup and other tasty Octoberfest foodstuffs. It was great fun to reminisce and share stories with fellow Glee Club alums.
I look forward to the unadulterated fun of another football concert – I promise not to wait another twenty years!