Dominique Castanheira, Contributing Photographer

On Saturday, the Yale Glee Club teamed with the Harvard and Princeton glee clubs for a virtual benefit concert, “Hand in Hand.” The benefit gathered donations for organizations dedicated to equity and justice as a response to racial injustice in the U.S.

The concert included songs in Haitian Creole, Spanish and English and featured pieces by composers of color. Yale, Harvard and Princeton each chose an organization to receive the benefit’s donations: Music Haven in New Haven, Castle of Our Skins in Boston and Head Start in Trenton.

“While we wish we were able to gather in person to make music with our friends from Harvard and Princeton as we’ve done for over a century, I am grateful that we’ve been able to keep this tradition alive this fall,” YGC Director Jeffrey Douma said. 

During the concert, each choral ensemble had a 25-minute set. Each set included an introduction to each song, videos about the three benefiting organizations and recorded performance pieces. To create the virtually recorded compilations, YGC members recorded themselves performing to individual music tracks.

Douma noted that this year, the concert’s theme was particularly important because it reckons with racial injustice, which is embedded in society — including the arts.

“It was essential to create a concert experience centering creators of color which would also support local nonprofits doing vital work in equity and justice in arts education,” Douma added.

Individual recordings from all 180 singers of the three clubs were compiled to create the finale of the concert: a performance of Brandon Waddles’ arrangement of the Isley Brothers’ 1985 hit, “Caravan of Love.” This arrangement, which was commissioned especially for this performance, reinforces the concert’s message about advocating for people of color.

It is a tradition for the YGC to perform joint concerts with the Harvard and Princeton glee clubs. Before the pandemic, these performances often took place after football games on college campuses.

This year, the concert was held virtually on OnFour — a livestream concert platform. It was viewed by over 400 people across the U.S. — from Hawaii to Maine. OnFour also hosted a donation button and allowed audience members to conduct video chats through public and private rooms.

This form of recorded performance, which allows for multiple takes, generated mixed feelings among YGC members. Stephen Carrabino ’23 said the absence of a direct audience made recording less “nerves-inducing.” Yet he added that sometimes, “a bit of nervousness” can help members focus better on their pieces.

“Part of the community building of a concert that you miss with an online platform is having the experience together. Just singing in a room together as a tight group, and sharing your voices with an audience,” Carrabino said. 

One attendee, Daniela Miro ’24, said the concert was not as enjoyable as in-person events because watching pre-recorded videos is not as engaging as supporting friends in a crowd. 

Yet Carrabino said it “was amazing how good the singing sounded and how it all came together.”

This semester, the pandemic has caused YGC to transition to virtual rehearsals. The Glee Club meets for mandatory meetings on Zoom, where they practice their music in smaller sections. Carrabino, a bass for the YGC, said that practicing without in-person voice support or access to the piano is difficult.

Despite the challenges, members of the YGC have worked hard to create a sense of community via social activities. 

“The director is very good about giving us the opportunity to talk to each other in breakout rooms so we can get to know each other better,” said Carrabino. “It’s a really special experience.”

The YGC was founded in 1861.

Dominique Castanheira | dominique.castanheira@yale.edu

Gamze Kazakoglu | gamze.kazakoglu@yale.edu