This weekend is the Harvard/Yale Football game. Every other year, New Haven hosts, and this is a Yale year, so the festivities have already begun. One of the things that kicks off the game weekend, is a joint concert with the Glee Clubs of Harvard and Yale.
In my college years, I lived in Cambridge, MA, and did many shows at Harvard. My “college” experiences were at Harvard. I was in a Conservatory setting, and that does not provide a very fun college atmosphere. So Harvard was my place to have fun. I did Gilbert and Sullivan shows, in which I had entirely too much fun. I also did a summer gig in Nantucket with members of the Harvard Krokodiloes, and collected memories that made my college years some of the most fun in my life.
This year, I decided to check out the Live Stream options instead of going to Woolsey Hall. More and more Yale concerts are being streamed live, and it is a great option if you simply can’t get out. I know there are singers from the Opera Department whose parents cannot make it to every performance that their college student is in, and this is a great way for people out of town to see what their kids are up to.
The all male Harvard Glee Club took the stage for the first half of the concert. And the co-ed home team took up the second half of the show. As usual, alums in the audience are invited onstage for the songs that have always been a part of the university’s repertoire, and they are always fun to see.
Forgive me, as I make a gross generalization.
One of the things I truly loved about my Harvard experiences, was the sheer fun of the people. A sense of humor was appreciated, and there was much laughter. Yea, sure they were a bunch of really smart people, but they were also people who knew how to laugh, and not take themselves too seriously. I do not find that very much at Yale. I realize, of course, that I am not a student or even anywhere NEAR a student’s age, but I have been involved with choirs on the Yale campus, and everything is quite serious. I was in a choir last year where any kind of laughter was frowned upon. I showed up to rehearsal feeling like I was giving a book report in the third grade. There was little enjoyment beyond the music itself.
The Yale Rep, which consistently delivers wonderful theatre, NEVER does a comedy. They did ONE two seasons ago, but it was a black comedy and someone was murdered in it. Are we to assume they simply don’t think comedy is worth doing? Have they never heard of the great death bed quote of Edmund Keen’s? Keen was a highly respected Shakespearean actor who collapsed onstage. They took him to his dressing room, and while he lay dying on his dressing room couch he said, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”
Good actors need to know how to do comedy. It is just that simple. And while I realize that the Rep only uses a few actors from the drama program, and the rest of the actors are from New York, it would STILL be nice to see a good comedy once in a while. EVERYTHING is so bloody serious.
This Glee Club concert is a great example of the difference that at least I feel when comparing these two excellent universities.
The Harvard Glee Club took the stage with quirky, fun things. Their Bohemian Rhapsody, which was performed by a small group within the Glee Club, performed the song with choreography, and great dedication to the tongue and cheek aspect of the song. Sadly, they were frequently out of tune, and some of the solo voices in this number were not very good. They did a series of Harvard fight songs, and wrestled with a guy wearing a bulldog costume. They were fun, lighthearted, but musically uneven.
In the second half, The Yale Glee Club performed a lovely concert expertly sung, deadly serious music, performed with deadpan faces, and all the weight and importance that the selections required. Their “fight song” group was performed with a hefty amount of dryness, but it did manage to come to life when they got to the verse about getting drunk. And then it went right back to a serious description of a song they were GOING to do, had the student composer shown up for the concert. I am guessing he was in his dorm reading Kierkegaard while listening to Mahler’s Songs on the Death of Children. It did pick up when the alums joined the stage for the songs that talk about killing Harvard on the field. Boolah Boolah!
The finale consisted of both groups and the alums singing together an old song about one’s Alma Mater. Very sweet, indeed.
The Live Stream was terrific! Sound was good, and the picture was smooth and clear. Even though my computer is not in the best shape, it had no problem getting the concert to me. It is an excellent alternative to being there. Obviously, you get more out of it live, but I strongly suggest giving it a try when you are interested in seeing something, but just can’t get out to enjoy it in person. Just pop onto the official Yale page that details the concert, and it will tell you if the live stream is happening or not. The picture comes through fifteen minutes before the concert begins.