Out of the four years that I have been in the Glee Club, in three of them, we have put on a Homecoming Concert less than a month after accepting new singers, but for those of us who were returning members, we were already running full speed before Freshmen even arrived on campus.
When I woke up to go to officer retreat in scenic Lincoln B20 on August 18th, I knew that in the first month of school, the Glee Club was staring down the barrel of an Orientation Week Concert, several O-Week events, a week of auditions, callbacks, acclimating new members musically, integrating new members socially, traveling to Skaneateles for intensive work and another concert, the high-pressure rehearsals in the week before a show, and a major concert in Bailey Hall. I wasn’t even out of bed, and I was tired just thinking about it.
Oh yeah, and we all had to start classes, too.
And yet, somehow or other, my memories of this hectic period have shed any stress or worry and have concentrated into a few beautiful images, full of musical and human connections:
I can see a private conversation I had with president John Schafer in the August heat about his target for numbers of men he wanted to audition this year; the next moment I’m making eye contact with him and general manager Adam Proch, pumping my fist while discovering that the number of sign-ups has surpassed the target—and the record for auditions in several years.
I can see transfer sophomore Chris Umeki being greeted at the Sing At Cornell event at Balch arch and expressing his concern about transitioning from playing trumpet to singing; the next moment I see him sitting on a rock wall talking to Rocco Recce ’17, who had made the same transition; the moment after that, I see Chris and Rocco striking up a song together at Chris’s New Man night.
I can see Freshmen milling about amdist a sea of tuxes and dresses after the Orientation Week concert with the upperclassmen desperately trying to seem like they weren’t as excited as they are to meet future new members. I can see the satisfaction of men in DCA—some for the first time, some for the hundredth—as the last sounds of our voices fade into a wall of applause from the Skaneateles congregation. And I can see the faces of our new members, full of pride, but beginning to recognize the profundity of the connection among the community they’ve joined, as they add their voices to the 20-year-olds and the 70-year-olds who are joining together in the final rousing verse of the Biebl at the Homecoming Reception.
I would not be telling the truth if I said that it is not stressful to handle this degree of business right at the beginning of the year; the pressure is intense to excel organizationally and musically immediately. Yet, the pressure itself compresses the memories of our mad dash into these pearls of experience that are filled with emotion and pride and a deserved sense of accomplishment.
Perhaps it is my becoming a sentimental Senior, but I am so thankful for having gone through the crucible of months like this to forge the friendships with the singers of this group, the desire to leave this organization stronger than we found it, and the connections with the music we perform.
Oh yeah, and we all survived our classes, too.