Three weeks since their return from Spain, Glee Club members reflect upon "the tour of a lifetime":
"This trip, for me, felt like a time of inter-class bonding for the Glee Club. I developed friendships with many people I hadn’t spent much time with before. I think going on tour gives an opportunity for the choir to bond in a new way, because during other times of the year, many of us only see each other during rehearsals. On tour, though, the whole choir has the chance to eat, talk, be silly, and explore a new place all together, while also making music in some truly stunning spaces. I will never forget several elderly audience members coming up to me after we sang in León and telling me in English that they would ‘like’ the Glee Club on Facebook. This tour was truly an experience full of growth as musicians, friends, and people."
- Helena Hingston Tenev, ‘19 (major: Math, certificate: Vocal Consort Singing)
"My favorite part of the whole week was when the last refrain of “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” rang between the walls of the Iglesia de Santa Marina la Real in León. Even the very sky applauded with a wild winter flurry. Such a special performance in such a place made more memorable the ensuing night out with newly-formed friends in the Glee Club."
- Joshua Latham, ‘20 (Physics major)
"Tour was truly dope."
- Harry Bound, ‘21
"Not to be dramatic or anything, but tour was actually one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. There was just something special about coming together in such beautiful churches and hearing the music you’re making echo off the walls."
- Zoe Kahana, ‘21 (potential COS major)
"Tour was a great way for me to connect more with both the undergraduate and graduate communities. I truly feel as if I grew closer to everyone I conversed with and got to know people I wouldn’t normally have gotten the chance to talk to. Isn’t it amazing that we could all come together and bond over our mutual love of singing?"
- Matré Grant, G1 (Musicology)
"There’s something really magical about getting a bunch of passionate students together in that sliver of time when they have no academic engagements hanging over their heads. Add the beauty of Spain and the togetherness of Glee to that and holy cow–there’s a trip that I’m sure none of us will let go of anytime soon. Singing–yes in the churches, but also in the streets and in the hotel rooms brought about a solidarity and strength that may or may not have almost got us all thrown in Spanish prison. Even if that had happened though, I could think of no better cell mates."
- Allison Spann, ‘20 (prospective Music major with certificates in theater, music theater and vocal performance)
"I close my eyes and hear our songs, our muffled laughter rising in the cathedral of Leon.
What could have been the ecstasy of a pilgrim who walked the camino from eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, leaving everything behind, not knowing if he would make it back to his home country? Entering the majestic Leon cathedral after weeks of solitude, looking up at the glowing saints in stained glass, must have felt like heaven.
Now, when I close my eyes, the rich voices of Glee singers mingle with the thousands whispers of anonymous pilgrims. It was a blessing to sing in these sacred places, with a group we got to know and love better every day."
- Apolline Pernet, G1 (Comparative Literature)
"The tour reminded me of what I love most about choir: the unity of voices and of people. Following the path that we had sung about so many times in Santiago and performing it in such ornate churches are experiences I’ll never forget."
- Cecilia Hsu, ‘20 (prospective Spanish and Portuguese major)
"This tour was hands-down one of my most musically and socially fulfilling experiences ever, both as a conductor and as a singer. I’m endlessly grateful every day to have this job, but on tour, it hit me over and over again how lucky I am. When up in front of the group, it was the moments of eye contact that meant the most to me… there’s something amazing about making music with an audience behind me while connecting with the same phenomenal people I was laughing hysterically with on the bus a few hours prior. It’s like, wow, today I was literally skipping through the streets of northern Spain with the wonderful people in front of me, but also right now we are making this unbelievably profound and beautiful and magical thing together. *wink*"
- Steph Tubiolo (Associate Conductor)
"It was simply the highlight of my time at Princeton. I’ll remember it, the people I traveled with, bonded with, and sang with forever."
- Mark Martinez, GS (Computer Science)
"A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s tour so special. From performing in grand cathedrals bundled up in our winter coats to humming Talbot while walking along the Camino de Santiago, the Glee Club made countless incredible memories during our time in northern Spain. España, muchísimas gracias por su hospitalidad (y comida deliciosa!). Un abrazo muy fuerte,"
- Sarah Baber, '18 (Department of English, Program in Spanish Language and Culture)
"I’m overwhelmed when I try to distill a single example to encapsulate the richness of my tour experience with the Glee Club. There were too many moments to name. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to make music with 85 of the most wonderful humans I’ve had the pleasure to meet at Princeton. Graduate school can feel solitary at times, but the Glee Club has welcomed me into the Princeton community with open arms and helped me to find my home here. I am so grateful to those who gave so generously to support our trip to Spain. Singing in such beautiful sacred spaces with such wonderful and giving colleagues was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
- Sophie Lewis, G1 (Musicology)
"I never thought our tour would actually take me outside of my life. One of the most memorable moments of “Santiago,” the song most fundamental to our concert tour of the camino, comes near the end, when the choir restarts and reflects after the climax:
We have walked out of our lives
to come to where the walls of heaven
are thin as a curtain, transparent as glass
In our rehearsals in both America and Iberia, as well as in the first three concerts of tour, these lines called to my mind the feeling of spiritual transformation and nearness of the great beyond that was likely present in the heart of a pilgrim who just finished their own camino. I imagine this feeling would wash over them as it washed over me in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Botafumeiro, literally “smoke expeller” in Galician, is a massive incense burner that flies like a pendulum through the body of this house of worship. In its nine hundred-or-so-year-long history, this swinging pot of smoke has only broken loose of its rope twice, both times flying straight out of the church through a door, missing the crowds pilgrims and parishioners. During a mid-Saturday mass on the last day of our tour, I found myself shaking in fear as this holy silver wrecking ball careened toward me again and again, each time pulling upward and sparing me at the last minute. Thankfully, the calm gaze and warm smiles of some old and some budding Glee friends reassured me that my life was not, in fact, ending."
- James Brown-Kinsella, ‘19 (Department of Philosophy, Certificates in Humanistic Studies, French Language and Culture, and East Asian Studies)
"On this tour, I learned so much about the history of a country I knew hardly anything about. Each cathedral we toured was a new experience -- and incredibly exciting for this history major. The privilege of singing in cathedrals and other sacred spaces 500 years old or older was truly special. I will never forget the feeling of singing with some of my favorite Princetonians halfway around the world as we did our very own camino."
- Marcia Brown, ‘19 (Department of History, Certificate in African American Studies)
"My favorite concert of this tour was the one in León. The venue provided amazing resonance (and much needed warmth). The audience fizzed with enthusiasm and zealous applause. For me, the moment of magic came when the church clock rang as all of us together, some 80 choristers strong, sang the Herr Santiago theme. The bell resounded in tune with our chord and blended with our sound. When the theme ended and we drifted into silence before beginning the next section of the piece, you could still hear the lingering lull of the bell, floating in this moment of suspension that enraptured both the audience and us performers alike."
- Joanna Zhang, ‘21 (Prospective Philosophy Major, Certificate in East Asian Studies)
"One of my favorite concert memories of all time is going to be when we sang “Santiago” in León. We had struggled with the song in performance and that was the first time I was truly happy with how it went; it didn’t really sink in that we had finally gotten it until we moved into the final section of the piece, the prayer to St James followed by the pilgrims’ chant. I felt this amazing sense of release when all the small choirs began singing “now and evermore,” like I could finally breathe, and I couldn’t stop crying (neither could Gabriel). It was an amazing experience."
- Valerie Wilson, ‘18 (Department of History, Program in Medieval Studies)
"This tour was one of the most special and meaningful experiences of my life, and I feel extremely lucky that I got to be part of it. Seriously, who gets to walk around and daydream in medieval towns marveling at their rich history, and also sing in gorgeous cathedrals with 85 amazing musicians?"
- Alişya A. Anlaş, GS (Chemical and Biological Engineering)
"When we left Spain, I felt like I had been there for years. Every day we spent was so full, visiting churches and museums, eating endless jamón y queso and chocolate con churros, and of course singing the music that brought us all there together. I began to understand how this corner of the world changes the people who visit it, through the uninterrupted time we spent with each other - a huge contrast to everyone’s busy schedules during the school year - learning so much as the journey joined us together. As we sang so many times before we learned the meaning of these words, eultreya esuseya - forward and upward. Now, and ever more."
- Claire Jones, ‘18 (Department of History, Programs in Portuguese Language & Culture and European Cultural Studies)
"I am so grateful that the Glee Club was given the opportunity to take this journey together. I think we first realized that it would be a magical week while driving through the rapidly changing terrain soon after landing in Madrid. A lunch picnic in Bilbao, sitting peacefully under those magical trees, a perfect chord in Veni, climbing to the top of Burgos, emotional renditions of Brahms, a snowy photoshoot in León, chasing after my comrades for tour photos and videos, a Parry performance that brought me to tears, the Galician bagpipes marking our entry into the Praza do Obradoiro in Santiago— these are memories I will treasure forever.
The centerpiece of our program, Santiago, is a piece I’ve admired for the past five years— I never imagined I’d have the chance to sing it, let alone with 86 of my best friends. So much gratitude to our incredible directors and the wonderful supporters who make tour possible."
- Shruthi Rajasekar, ‘18 (Department of Music, Programs in Vocal Performance and Cognitive Science)
"Thank you to all who helped make this phenomenal tour with lifelong friends to amazing places possible. I’m so grateful for the opportunity."
- Rebecca Singer, ‘18 (Department of Music)
"Tour was a dual experience of learning about the culture El Camino and Spain and getting to know the remarkable members of the Glee Club. I am so thankful for those who made this trip possible."
- Catherine Sweeney, ‘20 (Department of Sociology)
"This tour was an opportunity to be immersed in an unfamiliar place with the most fun, thoughtful, and inspiring people I have met in my short time at Princeton. I’m so grateful for the hard work it took to put it together and for everyone in the Glee Club for being so kind and open to adventure."
- Natalie Stein, ‘21
"Tour was a wild ride that I’ll never regret taking. Getting to make music in some of the most beautiful places I’ve been with some of the most beautiful was truly breathtaking."
- David Nie, ‘19 (Department of Computer Science, Certificates in Finance and Piano Performance, Pre-Medicine)
"Going to Spain with the Glee Club was one of my favorite experiences of my Princeton career. I will long remember the beauty and history of Galicia, Castilla y León, and the Basque Country, but what will remain with me the most is the amazing interactions I was privileged to have had with some of the best people at this University."
- Reuben Zeiset, ‘19 (School of Architecture)