2014 Tour Blog

Memories of a wonderful tour

Here are some fond memories by undergraduates about their experience on the recent Glee Club tour. Share your own with us in the comments section below!

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"It is unbelievable that only six weeks ago, the Glee Club was welcoming the New Year in Nuremburg. The city was alight with fireworks and we were all electrified after having given a wonderful concert in the charming town of Roßtal. This last tour with Glee Club was a very special tour for me. As a senior, I knew it would be the last time that I would be traveling abroad with the Glee Club and with some of my closest friends. I went on tour with the mindset of cherishing each moment as it came by. The fairytale, ice-crusted landscape on our drive from Nuremberg to Prague, the mulled wine that warmed my insides and made me think of Butterbeer in Harry Potter and the lit faces that greeted us at every concert are all memories that I will take with me from the Glee Club tour.  The Glee Club tour was magical - singing the Bach Magnificat in Thomaskirche, filling restaurants to the brim, celebrating birthdays and making music together are all highlights that bring a smile to my face. I can still feel the tour afterglow in our rehearsals now, and I cannot wait to see where this adventure will lead us next. I am grateful for everyone and everything that made this tour possible - it sure was a good one." - Tanya Tawengwa '14, 2013 President

"Thanks for the matchless and touching Rachmaninov and "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied" and "Magnificat" Performances! I will never forget this! Come back soon!!" - Audience Member

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"Planning for tour was so much fun! Going on international tour is an incredible part of the Glee Club experience. Besides the opportunity to sing incredible music in the most fantastic venues, the Glee Club comes back as a stronger, more cohesive, more unified group. The tour to Paris my freshman year was where I connected with some of my closest friends at Princeton, and I wanted to be able to take part in creating that experience for the current Glee Club." - Katherine Wolff '15, 2013 Tour Manager

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"Two days before New Years Eve, when most students enjoyed the company of their families, the singers of Princeton’s Glee Club and Chamber Choir assembled with tuxedos, dresses and musical scores at Newark Airport: Together with director Gabriel Crouch and accompanist Kerry Heynman, the 70 students were about to travel abroad to perform at three of Europe’s most historical venues. Two years after its last international tour, the choir had the chance to present its wide repertoire to audiences in Nuremberg, Prague and Leipzig. The excitement to explore cities of medieval origin and to perform in churches that have inspired the geniuses of musicians like Johann Sebastian Bach was equally large as the interest of the local audiences: The choral music, which sometimes dwelled in the sentiment of the holiday season and sometimes departed from it to explore more complicated contexts, was not only a great enough promise to fill the respective venues, but caused the Glee Club to be received everywhere with great warmth and friendliness. The international tour constituted a unique opportunity to perform with some of Europe’s most distinguished artists: In Leipzig, both the Leipziger Barockorchester and the choral ensemble Calmus co-performed with the young singers and made the performances of pieces like Bach’s Magnificat an outstanding experience. Besides high-quality music-making, exploring the sights and enjoying the exposure to a foreign culture was a principal focus of the tour: With the friendly support of tour guides, drivers and travel agents, the seven days were well-spent on getting to know more than only concert venues of the foreign cities. Nuremberg offered a historical backdrop for the choir’s New Years Eve celebrations, Prague impressed with its outstanding number of picturesque sights, and Leipzig made itself a name as a city of great musical and cultural significance. Back at Princeton, the choir is not only looking back on wonderful concerts and an extraordinary journey, but as well looking forward to building on the close friendships that were forged within only one week. That those new friendships extend beyond the student body has already shown: At Princeton, the Glee Club will soon be presenting music from Johann Sebastian Bach together with the ensemble Calmus from Leipzig." - Johannes Hallermeier '15

"Ich hab noch nie einen so perfekten, zarten und gigantischen Chor gehört! Dazu die excellente Akustik in der Thomaskirche zu Leipzig! Danke für dieses wunderbare Konzert!" - Audience Member

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"My favorite part of tour was singing the Bach Magnificat in the Thomaskirche of Leipzig, which is the church that Bach would debut his music when he worked as choral-master of the church.  Bach is buried inside the church, and it was a surreal experience to sing his music, in his church, directly facing his grave. I have never felt such a connection singing any other piece before; it's a feeling I am never going to forget. And as an extra bonus, we were greeted quite out of the blue by Princeton alum Roland Schönfeld '52, who was full of enthusiasm about our concert!" - Zach Levine '17, 2014 Treasurer

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"Glee Club Tour 2014, to Nuremburg, Prague, and Leipzig was an absolutely unforgettable experience. As a senior in the group, having survived almost seven semesters, it was a wonderful way to get back in touch with friends and explore Europe with people who I'd otherwise rarely cross paths with. Glee Club truly has become a family over the years, and this made the trip all the more fun. Most importantly, though, the experiences of singing in a completely full church in the small town of Rosthal as well as the grand Thomaskirche in Leipzig are moments I will be able to share with fellow Glee Clubbers for the rest of my life. What an amazing opportunity to rekindle old friendships and make new ones all the while creating beautiful music under the direction of an incredible conductor in some of the most historic centers of music in the world." - Dina Murokh '14

Glee Club Tour Day 7

We awoke on Saturday morning for our final full day of our tour in Leipzig, and were welcomed by a buffet of mixed meats, assorted jellies, and other morsels for our eager stomachs. We then set off with tour guides to explore the rich architecture and history of the 999-year old city.  As a crossroads between Europe’s two main trade routes, Leipzig grew as a center for trade and culture over the last millennium.  The music in Leipzig was manifest, second only to Vienna in terms of the presence of famous classical composers who had a relationship with the city.  It was amazing to walk within a few blocks and discover the school that young Wagner attended, the location of the apartment where Mendelssohn lived, a coffee shop where a variety of composers like Berlioz and Robert and Clara Schumann frequented, and Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church), where Bach’s Magnificat was premiered.  The older baroque architecture was mixed with modern styles, as much of the historic city center had been destroyed by bombings in World War II and rebuilt.  However, the city’s spirit clearly survived through its variety of shops, museums, and musical experiences.

After the tour we returned to the Thomaskirche for a rehearsal with the Leipziger Barockorchester on an entirely Bach repertoire for the afternoon service.  We were all in awe of the professional sound of the orchestra – everything from the precision of the violin runs to the blended timbres of the horns.  After a short break, we changed into concert dress and took our places up in the balcony of the church in front of the massive organ.  The performance was truly an unreal experience.  We performed our first piece O Jesulein Süß a cappella, followed by a beautifully conducted rendition of O Jesu Christ Mein’s Lebens Licht under the direction of our assistant conductor, Kamna.  Our final piece was the famous Magnificat, and truly felt like the musical culmination of our trip.  What could be better than singing one of Bach’s most famous pieces at Bach’s own church and final resting place?  All of the soloists performed with vitality, and we could see just how overjoyed our conductor, Gabriel Crouch, was for the experience conducting the piece.  And, of course, all of the members of the choir were ecstatic as well!  It was a little strange not to receive any applause after our performance (it was a church service after all), but we all certainly felt proud of the result of weeks of hard work on this music.

Following the performance, we took some group photos and had a few hours to explore the city on our own.  Some of us took to the nearby bratwurst stand—others to the local shopping centers.  We later reconvened to celebrate with one final dinner of German cuisine and libations where we toasted all of the people who helped make this tour possible: Jürgen our coach driver, Kerry our accompanist, Katherine our tour manager, Johan our tour guide, Gabriel, our esteemed conductor, and, of course our alumni and supporters without whom this trip would not have been what it was. They made sure that every stop was truly unforgettable.

Spirits were high, and the upperclassmen shared goodbyes for what was their final glee club tour--an experience that they will surely carry with them, as so many PUGC alumni have in the past, for the rest of their lives.  The group then split off to continue celebrations at various nightclubs and bars across the city.  Even with the looming 4:30 AM wake-up call, many of us continued dancing and hanging out with fellow glee clubbers into the night, squeezing as much out of the wonderful city as possible.

A special dinner

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We had another special treat awaiting us in Leipzig... a dinner for the whole choir provided by Bill and Judy Scheide, whose warmth and generosity has touched the City of Leipzig almost as much as Princeton University. Judy Scheide heard the Glee Club performing Bach's Magnificat in December, and told us afterwards that she wanted to give the choir something to help us remember our time in the city that Bill loves so much. The venue she chose was the Thuringerhof - a restaurant which has served the city continuously for more than five centuries, and which has seen all the greats of Leipzig eat and drink within its arched halls - Luther, Goethe, Schumann, Wagner, and of course, Bach himself. We had a sumptuous meal, followed by a joyful awards ceremony and the singing of almost all our memorized repertoire, as our fellow diners gathered around to cheer us on. Truly, an unforgettable way to say goodbye to Leipzig!

Glee Club Tour Day 6

Finally in Leipzig!

O Jesulein Süß Attr. Johann Sebastian Bach Princeton University Glee Club Thomaskirche, Leipzig - January 3, 2014

After two wonderful days in Prague, we set off for the birthplace of Bach -- Leipzig, Germany! There was a special buzz of excitement when we arrived at Thomaskirche for a brief rehearsal. I know many members of the Glee Club will never forget singing O Jesulein suß just a few feet away from Bach's final resting place.

We had a bit of free time before our performance at Thomaskirche, during which time we explored the Stadtplatz, saw the Bach museum, and ate currywurst (and McDonald's for a few of the sausages-out glee clubbers). 

When we got back to the church, the Friday night service began and we performed alongside one of the finest vocal groups in Leipzig, Calmus, an incredible 5-person ensemble. Following the performance, we ate dinner as a group thanks to the incredible generosity of Princeton centurion Bill Scheide '36 and his family. 

We can't wait for our performance of Bach's Magnificat tomorrow back at the Thomaskirche and for our final day on what has been an incredible tour!

Glee Club Tour Day 5

A day in Prague

We started off the day today with a great tour of the Prague castle, also known in Czech as the Hrad! The castle itself was composed of many palaces (and a large cathedral) that came from many different architectural styles. Many of the buildings and small avenues have been used in movies, including Amadeus and Mission Impossible.  The spire of the cathedral in the center of the castle was destroyed by lightning in the 17th century. As a result, it was a replaced with a contemporary dome roof, as before the 19th century imitating older styles was not typical (i.e. Neo-gothic).

Later during our tour, we crossed the Moldau on the famous Charles Bridge, and explored some of the old city of Prague. Our guide informed us that originally, the streets did not have numbers. Instead the houses had names, such as “the house of the golden well” and the “house of the golden snake”.  The “house of the golden well” has an interesting origin story. After it was first built, there was a well next to it and a young maiden firmly believed that the well contained gold at the bottom. Many times a year she would descend to the bottom of the well in search of the treasure. Unfortunately, one of her ventures ended in mishap, and she drowned in the bottom of the well. When the owner of the home went looking for the body, he actually found the gold she had famously believed was lying at the bottom! And as a result there is now a relief of the famous young maiden at the top of the house; she leans on a skull to symbol her untimely death, and she is said to haunt the house (now a hotel) to this day.

We finished off the day with a  great concert in the Church of the Holy Saviour right outside of the old town square.  It had the most amazing acoustics!  Almost a 6 second reverb!  We had a great concert with a full house and now we look forward to our last stop, Leipzig!

Glee Club Tour Day 4

Happy New Year to everyone from the Glee Club!!

Set down, Servant Arr. Shaw/Parker Princeton University Glee Club Church of the Holy Savior, Prague - January 2, 2014

We had a lovely evening in Nuremberg to celebrate, kicking off after the concert with a dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant. There were some spectacular fireworks in the last few minutes of 2013, continuing well into the new year. (In fact several celebratory fire crackers were set off right above the restaurant, and a box just outside caught aflame just a little bit. Thankfully it was quickly put out by a few restaurant staff.)

This morning we set off towards Prague. The bus ride was sleepy--naturally--except that as we got deeper into the countryside, we were all awaken by neighbors' gasps at the beautiful landscape of the Czech Republic. There was a fine layer of frost hanging from the trees and over the fields. It was mesmerizing.

Upon our arrival in Prague we were able to go towards the town center and roam the marketplace and get dinner. Can't wait to explore some more, and then sing in this beautiful city tomorrow!

Glee Club Tour Day 3

New Years Eve: Nuremberg Edition

We opened our Europe tour with a fantastic New Years Eve concert in Roßtal, a small town just outside of Nuremberg. The church was filled to the rafters with enthusiastic townspeople of all ages – there were over 550 people there! The audience reaction was wonderful – we were honored to get two standing ovations!

After the concert, we all rung in the new year together in a wonderful little Italian restaurant in Nuremberg. Counting down just outside the restaurant – it was fantastic! And to thank the restaurant staff, we sang for them, and they loved it so much that they chanted for an encore!

Later, we enjoyed a wonderful night out and about in Nuremberg to celebrate the New Year – wishing a happy new year to all of our friends and family back in the US! 

Glee Club Tour Day 2

En Route: Princeton to Newark to Frankfurt to Nuremberg

Man, it has been a long day of travel. Jeffmin '15, Tova '15 and I ('15) arrived at Princeton at around 10PM EST on Saturday, the 28th. Then the next day, after a quick run to the Panera on Nassau, we walked through the pounding rain to the Old Dinky station, where we hopped on a bus to Princeton Junction. After a train ride, security and a bit of waiting, we were finally on our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. The flight itself was uneventful. There was a screaming baby that didn't seem to bother anyone else, but I didn't get a wink of sleep. I was able to finish World War Z by Max Brooks and watch part of "The Hobbit" and "Despicable Me 2" through other people's screens. 

When we finally landed, we walked through the long hallways of the Frankfurt Airport before finally clearing customs. We then waited around, somewhat deliriously tired but ready to take on tour. Jeffmin, Daniel '15 and I talked about our plans for the podcast and a few of us broke into an impromptu back massage line (we jokingly called it a Friday in Glee Club rehearsal, because we normally do back massage lines to start rehearsal on Fridays).

When the tour bus finally arrived, we loaded up and headed out for Nuremberg. And that's about all I can remember - I fell asleep a couple minutes after we left the airport and only woke up when we got out for lunch. We stopped at the nicest rest stop that a lot of us have ever been to. There was a Burger King, a buffet and a convenience store on the first floor and an art gallery and fancy bathrooms on the second floor. After a quick meal, we were back on the road for another hour and a half. I'm about to head out exploring for an hour with my friends before coming back for rehearsal. There's still so much to do today!

Glee Club Tour Day 1

Pre-Departure Reflections:

It’s 6.30am and I’m finishing up my packing for Glee Club’s tour to Germany and Czech Republic. I am really excited. The first tour I ever went on was with the Harare Youth Orchestra to a music festival in Bulawayo, a city in the southwest of Zimbabwe. I was 15 and it was the first time I had traveled for an extended period of time with a bunch of musicians all sharing the sole purpose of making music. We didn’t cross any oceans or board any planes, but we did spent 9 hours on a bus together and 4 days in Bulawayo. I remember early morning rehearsals that were a pleasure to attend, delicious food, great company, slight homesickness (but only slight), fantastic concerts, dancing until the wee hours of the morning and of course, strong friendships. After that first tour, I knew that I would always surround myself with a family of musicians. Now, as a senior in college, attending my first and last tour with the Glee Club, I am REALLY excited. I want to enjoy every single moment, lavish in the beautiful music we will make together and cherish the faces that make Glee Club what it is. Here’s to a wonderful tour!