Glee Clubs jeer, collaborate

Before the Bulldogs battle the Crimson on the football field, the Harvard and Yale Glee Clubs will go head to head tonight.

On Friday night, the Harvard and Yale Glee Clubs will give their 112th joint performance in honor of the Harvard-Yale football game. Despite the bitter competition between the two schools, officials from both groups said that the concert blends rivalry with a mutual love of music.

During the first half of the program, each group performs its own repertoire, including both classical and contemporary songs. The spirit of The Game comes through in the second act, with the two schools performing their traditional football songs, senior Glee Club officer Abigail Droge ’12 said. These tunes, she added, typically invite harmless pranking from the opposing choir and the audience.

Though Droge declined to reveal the nature of tonight’s pranks, she said that at a past Yale-Princeton Glee Club concert the Princeton group threw orange paper airplanes at the Yale Glee Club, which deflected them with blue and white umbrellas. The Yale Glee Club responded with a prank on Princeton’s tiger mascot, meowing as Princeton sang its football medley, she said.

Because the show is at Yale this year, Harvard Glee Club member Dong-Ik Lee ’14 said his club will have fewer fans in the audience to help them win this popularity contest. He added that whenever the Cantab choir sings “Harvard” during their football songs, Yale students respond by shouting out “Sucks!”

“We’ll try to bash them, but because it’s Yale’s home turf, it’s much harder,” Lee said.

The participation of alumni — many of who come onstage during the fight songs and join in taunting the other choir — is an important part of the Harvard-Yale Glee Club experience, especially for new members, said Harvard Glee Club Director Andrew Clark.

The joint concert highlights a difference in the groups’ development over the years: both Glee Clubs were founded as all-male organizations, but while Yale’s included women in 1971, Harvard’s remains single-sex today, Clark said. Yale Glee Club Director Jeffrey Douma said the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, a co-ed choir founded in 1971, is a more direct counterpart to the Yale Glee Club, and the two groups have performed together in the past. Historically, though, the Glee Clubs are “the keepers of the traditional college songs” such as Bright College Years, so they perform together each fall for the Game, Douma said.

Because of its smaller, all-male membership, the Harvard Glee Club can perform some pieces for male voices that were written for Yale’s choir in the days before coeducation, Clark said. On Friday, Harvard will perform “Demon of the Gibbet,” a 1949 piece composed by Yale faculty member Paul Hindemith. Though “Demon in the Gibbet” has not been adapted to accommodate mixed voices, about 30 of the Yale Glee Club’s older pieces for men have been rewritten for that purpose, Douma said.

The Harvard-Yale Glee Club concert will take place on Friday night at 8 p.m. in Woolsey Hall.

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