Every year, before and after the much-anticipated Yale-Harvard game, the centuries-old rivals join each other in music, comedy and dance.
On Nov. 17 and 18, joint concerts and performances across Yale’s campus will feature both the University’s own a cappella groups and improv and dance troupes, as well as equivalent organizations from Harvard.
“It’s great for us to be able to hear another ensemble, which we often find illuminating and inspiring,” said Andrew Clark, director of choral activities at Harvard. “It’s a chance to share some of our music with each other in a meaningful way.”
The oldest musical tradition of Game Weekend is the joint Glee Club concert, which will take place in Woolsey Hall on Friday from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The concert, which first took place 119 years ago, will feature school songs and the alma maters of the two universities, as well as a variety of other pieces. According to Clark, the music will span six centuries, including pieces from the Renaissance, Russian sacred hymns and works by Stephen Sondheim.
The two Glee Clubs were very similar for much of their history but diverged after both universities opened their gates to women in the 1960s and 1970s, according to Clark. The Yale Glee Club began to admit women, while the Harvard Glee Club remained all-male.
On the same night, several a cappella groups will hold the Game Weekend Jam, which will take place from 8:30 to 10 p.m. in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall. The concert will feature the Yale Whiffenpoofs, Yale’s Whim ’n Rhythm and the Harvard Krokodiloes. The all-male Krokodiloes, founded in 1946, are Harvard’s oldest a cappella group, while the Whiffenpoofs, founded in 1909, are Yale’s oldest group.
The Bulldogs and the Crimson will join each other in the Davenport Common Room on Friday from 8 to 9 p.m. for the “Out of the Extra Catitones” joint concert, featuring The Yale Alley Cats, Something Extra, Out of the Blue and the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones. Sudler Hall will also host a joint concert performed by Christian a cappella groups from both schools at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, while a concert in WLH 119 will feature the Radcliffe Pitches, Proof of the Pudding, the Harvard Opportunes, Red Hot and Blue and The Duke’s Men of Yale.
For students seeking something more comedic, the Jonathan Edwards Theater will host a joint show performed by Yale’s Just Add Water improv troupe and Harvard’s Immediate Gratification Players.
Alec Zbornak ’21, a member of Just Add Water, said he hopes the collaboration will help the two groups compare styles and influences. The groups will eat dinner together, and members of Just Add Water will host members of Harvard’s troupe.
After the game, fans of both teams will have another opportunity to compete at the HY-light: Harvard-Yale Showdown, hosted every two years by the Black Student Alliance at Yale. The showdown will feature black performance groups from both universities, including Shades, Rhythmic Blue, WORD, Harvard’s Expressions, the Kuumba Singers of Harvard and Yale Steppin’ Out. The showdown, starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, will be followed by BSAY’s afterparty.
For Yale students, Game Weekend is both an opportunity to show their own school spirit and a chance to learn more about other universities.
“There’s 17 a cappella groups on campus,” said Pascale Bronder ’19, the business manager of Something Extra. “At some point you might have heard all of them.”
According to the student performers, joint concerts with other schools allow them to learn from their peers and to compare their own practices and sounds with others.
Leslie Schneider ’20, the music director of Yale’s Proof of the Pudding, said that a performance with groups from Peking University during a tour to Beijing made her rethink the way in which Yale’s a cappella groups interact. According to Schneider, the groups at Peking were more intertwined, whereas the atmosphere during Yale’s rush season is more competitive.
“The joint concert helps us remember that even though The Game is competitive, it’s all about having fun and getting to share the best parts of both our schools,” Schneider said in an email. “Even though we want to beat Harvard, it’s fun to bond with Harvard kids before and after.”
The first football game between Yale and Harvard was played in 1875.
Nathalie Bussemaker | firstname.lastname@example.org