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15 November 2016
I hope this letter finds you and those close to you well. I am happy to report that the Glee Club's 156th season is off to a great start, and we have a wonderful cohort of incoming singers. The group sang beautiful for our Family Weekend and Princeton concerts, and I see them coalescing day by day into the supportive and welcoming community that the Glee Club has been for generations of Yale singers. The 155th anniversary reunion weekend at the end of last month was a celebration of not only of our tradition of music making but also this sense of community we share. We are looking forward to all the year has in store: our concert this week at Harvard, our mini-tour to the DC area in January, Orff's Carmina Burana, Beethoven's Mass in C, our annual high school choral festival, and of course our summer tour to South Africa.
But I also write a week after an election that has cast a shadow over our campus and revealed divisions in our society that are even greater than many of us imagined them to be only a week ago. The coming days will surely be a difficult time for our campus community, for the country, and for the world. Many of my students are struggling, wondering how to move forward. Tomorrow night many of my students have organized a community singing event to express solidarity with those who are feeling marginalized by recent events. A small thing, but something.
At times like these, those of us who have chosen a life in the arts have to answer a difficult question. Does the day-to-day work of the artist (for me, contemplating seating formations, deciding which warm-up to use, making a rehearsal plan, tuning a chord, unifying a rhythm) matter in the grand scheme of things? The answer I have been offering to my students in recent days is that a world without art is unthinkable, and without artists devoted to their calling, there can be no art. The world needs beauty and things that create joy. And we also need those things that bring us together by demonstrating our shared humanity. The arts do that, and I tend to think choral singing does it better than just about any other collaborative art form.
Every year, we make an appeal to our alumni for donations, and your generosity over the years enables all that we do, from concerts to tours to multiple forms of community service through music. If you are able to donate this year, your gift will be gratefully received, and will help support what we do in the years to come. But if you feel this year that there are other places your charitable dollars need to go, then I urge you to give to the Glee Club and the larger singing community in other ways: come to an alumni singing event, organize an alumni singing event, participate in our new student/alumni mentorship exchange program, organize an event that combines music and service. Let the cultivation of community through singing be your gift.
Yours, as ever, in song
November 14, 2016
Dear Alumni Singers,
As I write this letter in mid-November, I think back to just two weeks ago when I had the great pleasure to be singing with many of you as part of the Yale Glee Club's 155th Anniversary in New Haven. What an energizing and wonderful weekend with over 500 singers and guests coming back together to celebrate the history of the Yale Glee Club, catch up with friends who came from near and far, rehearse and sing old favorites that were experienced anew, sing a commissioned work written and composed by our fellow distinguished classmates, and hear the current Glee Club carry on the legacy of brilliant choral singing. What I find particularly fun about these weekends are not just the formal events, but the spontaneous experiences that spring up such as late night singing in the Woolsey rotunda. Thanks to all of you who were part of it. If you haven't had the chance yet to post pictures or favorite stories, you can do so on Facebook on the Yale Glee Club Associates group page.
This has been a great year with multiple opportunities to sing together. Aside from the 155th and our annual singing dinner, we had alumni singing events in New York, Boston, Ann Arbor as well as a Yale Alumni Chorus (YAC) tour to Southeast Asia. We look ahead in 2017 to alumni singing events in Washington, DC and Milton, MA as well as a YAC Spirit of Song Tour to Toronto next August, and hopefully more to come.
As many of us heard in New Haven, the 2016-17 Yale Glee Club is off to a fantastic start to their year, which will culminate this summer with an international tour to South Africa. As has been the case for many of the Glee Club's international tours, they will have a service and outreach component to their trip. While the specifics of this are not yet finalized, it could include such things as working with Julianne Parolisi's Music Therapy Without Borders. The Glee Club's international tours, and outreach that accompanies them, are made possible as a result of your generosity and support. To that end, my request to you this year is to help support the Yale Glee Club's tour to South Africa, and in particular their service component. Think back to your time in the YGC and the international trips you made, the people you met while on tour, the lives you touched, the hearts you lifted, and the experience you gained as a result. We ask for your financial support with whatever amount you can share. Please help us continue one of our greatest legacies in Yale's extraordinary musical history.
As I mentioned in New Haven, we are fortunate to have alumni that are generous in spirit, in time, and in financial support. Thank you for what you are able to do.
Yours in song,
Marty Brennan '87
President, Yale Glee Club Associates