May 29, 2006
Texan Reflection on a Farewell to Wabash
Danny Lippert '06
This truly was one of the beautiful days during our tour. It was the only day that I woke up early for the entire tour. Tom and I woke up earlier, by accident, and went down to breakfast in our Glee Club uniform, the first time I was ready for our concert. After going back to our room, I took my time to pack for the next few days. I enjoyed thinking about everything I needed and all the clothes I hadn’t worn while I’ve been here. In a way it was a short time to sit and think about the tour. After we had our second-to-last concert at St. Andrew’s Church next door, we got on the bus, changed, and got on our way to Glasgow. Edinburgh was one of the better cities of the tour but also one of the more expensive. Edinburgh was a blast, but Glasgow would be a nice end to the tour. The bus ride was beautiful and scenic, and I enjoyed a nice stop for lunch before we hit the Trossachs, the name given to the foothills of the highlands. We went through Stirling Castle and then the Trossachs, but the entire time I just glanced at everyone in the Glee Club and reflected on the relationships I have made during my time at Wabash. It was during this last year that I most enjoyed my time at school. I made so many new friends and got really close to people I never would’ve imagined I’d speak to. I have become more truthful and stronger during the four years I’ve been in school. This must be the first trip that I have been on when I really haven’t gotten very annoyed at people and where I have gotten closer to people as well. I think about the times in the future when I’ll return to visit my friends and speak of special times we had here. It is something that I’ve enjoyed while I’m here and will definitely continue to enjoy even after this tour is over. The dinner conversation we had tonight at Pancho Villa’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant makes me look toward the future in hope that things at Wabash will get better, and relationships will not die out after I leave. Glee Club will hopefully get stronger and have glorious concerts and tours like the few in the past. I evaluated some friendships tonight and realized that I have become great friends with people I wouldn’t have imagined otherwise, like Filip and Bryce. Greg has definitely grown on me and gotten closer to being a brother than a friend. Tom is also the only Texan that I’ve learned to open up to because he is one guy who is just as crazy as me. I appreciate everyone on this trip and will greatly miss them all. I must say that, even though the trip has had its hard times, we have had great moments where we enjoyed ourselves immersed in a culture different from our own. It brought me back to my semester in Greece in Fall 2004 when I made many great friendships and memories while finding out so much about myself. So I leave Wabash after having four trying years and thank you for the growth, both physical and mental, which made me the person that I have become. I am glad to see that there are respectable men in the Midwest who are able to come together and enjoy four years together. Tonight, one of the last nights I will have with most of these guys, was very hard for me but also thrilling because it was another night to add to the many enjoyable experiences I’ve had. I have loved my four years and enjoyed my time with the Glee Club in Great Britain. So I bid farewell to Wabash, the Glee Club, Europe, and the UK, and move on to many more memorable moments back in Texas. I leave my four-year home but will return back South, a new Texan.
Time ticks differently in the United Kingdom
Michael Matsey '06
I discovered today that the Scots enjoy taking time off. When I awoke this Sunday morning, I found that all the shops in Edinburgh were closed and would not open until lunchtime. It was a little frustrating, considering I still had some shopping to do, but I had to remind myself that Europe beats to a different drum. It is not surprising then to find shops open late in the morning, take an afternoon tea break for an hour, and close at supper time. On this particular day, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed since I studied abroad in London a year ago. Europeans have a different perception of time. Before you think I’ve gone into some clichéd science fiction story, I should give you an example. If I were to meet a fellow European, they would be quite frustrated if I was late, much more so than anyplace in the US. Once I would meet my European friend, however, there would be no need to rush. Meals take hours, a night out with friends could end much later than previously hoped. All this, I believe, is personified by the lack of clocks in the UK. In all the places we have been, there have been few time devices.
Impatience is a rare occurrence here, at least for natives. I could easily tell the tourists as they rush everywhere, trying to capture every sight and sound. If one were to just take a moment, let those sights and sounds rush over your soul, then you’d be able to experience it like a native. Taking time to enjoy life seems to be a very European thing. I have missed this focus on time. In the US, there are to many things to do that we cannot stop and enjoy what we are doing. Here, they seem to enjoy life and live it to the fullest.
After this brief morning interlude, we sang at St. James and St. Andrews Church during their Sunday church service. It was great singing for a congregation, especially one with such a vibrant history as the Presbyterian church. We proceeded to travel towards Glasgow, our last stop on our tour, and made a few pit stops along the way. One included Stirling Castle, the site of a memorial to Robert the Bruce. From there we could look across the valley to the memorial to William Wallace, the legend of Scottish history and Mel Gibson fandom. My favorite thing we did today was our other pit stop. We drove through the Trossachs, an area of Scotland composed of many hills and lakes, stopping at a few stops along the way for photo taking. These brilliant views reminded me so much of my trips to Switzerland, but seemed quieter and more serene. I love hills with lakes, mystic vistas that touch the soul. When I’m gone, I expect that a part of my heart will still be in the highlands…
May 28, 2006
St. Johns College warmly receives Wabash College Glee Club
Ron King '09
My experience in Great Britain has been really exciting. I have seen numerous interesting things and have explored many historic places. This trip has been extremely educational and has really expanded my view of British culture and history. The experiences that have intrigued me the most were jumping into the Irish Sea and climbing Snowdonia Mountain. These both are things I would have never imagined myself doing; however, I am extremely grateful that I have had the opportunity to do them.
Today we spent most of our day in York. This is a tremendously beautiful town, and I was excited to see the York Minster. We explored many of the gift shops, and I tried British cuisine for the first time. I had never heard of a baguette, but it was delicious. Later that evening we performed at nearby St. Johns College for yet another concert.
During the entire trip we have had the opportunity to engage in joint musical endeavors with many British groups, and today was no different. We were engaged in concert with the St. Johns College’s entire music department. They are an extremely talented group of individuals, and they apparently thought the same about us, given the constant and spirited applause. I really enjoyed their band’s rendition of the Simpsons’ theme song. It was a really unique piece. I was just glad to mingle with people our own ages. The reception afterwards was a blast. I met many students of the college who were very anxious to meet people from America. I felt like I was a celebrity with all the attention I was getting from them. I even exchanged e-mail addresses with a number of them to stay in contact. This was an experience like no other, and I was glad to be apart of it.
Although the trip is about halfway over, I am still excited about what we have left to do. This truly is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to share this experience with families and friends.
Nick Leon '08
Last night before our concert at York St. Johns College, Dr. Bowen informed us we were its first delegation from Wabash College. Knowing that, it was even more amazing when we received a double encore. Most performing groups are lucky to get one, so it was a very humbling honor to receive two last night. We performed with three ensembles composed of students from St. Johns: two vocal and one instrumental. The influence of their enthusiasm was definitely seen in our faces and heard in our voices, especially when one of the biggest applauses we received was for “Old Wabash”. I also felt we did an exceptional job on our first performance this tour of “Got a Mind to Do Right”, a very upbeat spiritual. This suspicion was shortly confirmed by whistles and hollers from the audience. York constantly found new ways to impress and astound me. When we first arrived, I felt like a young kid on a family vacation, awed by just staring out the window. My eyes struggled to take it all in as we moved from miles of rolling green hills to winding streets lined with beautiful Victorian and medieval buildings. I do not think I have ever been to a city with so many friendly people, but it’s easy to see why. I also did not think anything could live up to the experience of performing at the York Minster the day before. Again, I was pleasantly surprised during and after the concert last night. I am so lucky just to have the opportunity to perform in another country, for anyone. But to perform for audiences as great and appreciative as we have had, reminds me what a truly great experience I am having the privilege of being a part of.
(Photo: Wabash men walk the walls of York with their tour guide.)
Edinburgh yields interesting singing experience in St. Giles church
Travis McLaughlin '09
Returning to Edinburgh, but with a much different sort of itinerary than my last trip (with Dr. Watson’s playwriting class earlier this month) has been a lot of fun. This morning we awoke at a relatively late hour and enjoyed a buffet-style breakfast in the refined George Hotel before changing into our uniforms and going to St. Giles’ for our concert. There was a short noon-time prayer service, followed by our performance. Our opening number, “Ave Maria” by Jacob Arcadelt, went particularly well today. The architecture and artwork in the church were fantastic and created another in a long line of extraordinary settings for us to sing in. The acoustics left a little to be desired, insofar as there was difficulty in hearing myself sing, but the resonance created by this gothic-style building was fabulous. The stained glass windows and large organ provided an excellent backdrop, and the sixty or so people who stopped in to listen to us sing were quite appreciative.
After the concert, we had a trip to St. Andrew’s, the home of the Old Course and the governmental seat for the rules of golf, though I would wager that, if you had to be told that, you could not truly appreciate the significance of being there. I will say that the history of the site was truly overwhelming, and three of us were even able to get our pictures taken on the Old Bridge. The parts of the Cathedral which were standing were also a sight to be seen, even though most of it was destroyed in Reformation-era violence. We ate lunch at the Dunvegan, where the winners of the golf tournament traditionally eat, and which is owned by a third-generation Texan who graduated from Texas A&M some years ago. As such, the food was highly “American” but enjoyable nonetheless.
In the late afternoon, we returned to Edinburgh for a night of leisure on the city. There are a number of local places which have live music on the weekends, so some of us will likely go out in search of some traditional local music. After that, we look forward to a relatively early bed time for our travels to Glasgow tomorrow.
A tour of Scotland entrances Wabash man
Filip Dramberian '08
Who goes to Scotland? Who does that? The Wabash College Glee Club, that’s who. So far this tour has been a non-stop educational and musical adventure. With so much to learn in so little time, each new location has offered a myriad of cultural and educational facets that can initially seem daunting. Edinburgh, Scotland, is no exception. While on our drive, we traveled through some of the most scenic countryside thus far. In between estimating how many sheep I could see at one time and finishing a book which covered everything from the life of a princess to peat bogs (which we will hopefully experience in a couple of days), our guide, Tom, gave us some history lessons about Scotland. After a three-hour journey, we picked up a Scottish guide bearing the same name as our bus driver, Bill, just before our arrival in Edinburgh. The information overload continued as our bus tour of Edinburgh began. Two words came to mind, and though under normal circumstances they would have been something like “rippling brook,” in this case the following words were more unsophisticated: “simply amazing.” Girded in traditional attire, including kilt and bagpipe, Bill proved to be a bottomless well of historical information. I was in a trance as I was trying to take it all in. Seeing things like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s home, Alexander Graham Bell’s house, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s childhood residence (who happens to be the author of my favorite Glee Club song entitled, “Sing Me A Song of a Lad That is Gone”)—seeing these things gave me a sense of awe. The end of our bus tour marked the beginning of a tour of Edinburgh Castle. I truly wish I would have had more time to visit everything, because I simply couldn’t stop reading and seeing everything as I was soaking it in like a sponge. We saw the Stone of Destiny, which is the other half of the Blarney Stone. It’s a shame we couldn’t kiss it, however. In addition, I was mesmerized as I visited the prisoner-of-war prison and the Royal Scots Exhibition. Bill confirmed my thoughts about Scotland when he explained the meaning of the Scottish motto, which in Latin reads, “Nemo me impune lacessit,” meaning No one attacks me with impunity. Much like the motto indicates, my experience made it very clear that Scotland as a whole is most definitely not a game. Thus, we’re taking on Scotland, and we have risen to the challenge.
A trip to Edinburgh Castle
Matt Mckay '06
We left Harrogate for Scotland this morning. It required a 3-hour drive, but we stopped for food in a small Scottish town, where I enjoyed my first taste of haggis. Granted, it was on panini with brie cheese, but nevertheless it was actually good. To fill up the rest of the time on the bus, I started another book. Somehow, I have managed to finish a couple books on this trip, and I am happy to be reading things for pleasure and not for class. We continued on our way to Edinburgh and picked up Bill, our tour guide. The highlight of the day was Edinburgh Castle. The castle is perched high upon a rock outcrop, staring down at the city with its intimidating presence of strength. The castle has never been taken by force. Once it was surrendered because the drinking water became contaminated during a siege, and another time it was taken by stealth, but never by force of arms, and looking at how defensible the fortifications are, I could see why. Inside the castle we visited a war memorial that housed the names of all Scots who died in service to their country during the Great War. Gorgeous coats of arms and flags were carved in bas-relief. The whole building filled me with a sense of honor and eternal glory. Also on the castle grounds, there is an exhibit of the prisons that housed French and American prisoners during the 18th century, and also a room full of swords, spears, halberds, and even a glaive. For me, it was a magnificent sight. Finally we got to see the royal crown and scepter of Scotland, a beautifully crafted claymore, and the Stone of Destiny, which is present at the crowning of the king, and which was once part of a meteorite that landed in Ireland, and split in two when the Scots migrated to what would be called Scotland. The Scots called their piece the Stone of Destiny, and the Irish, the Blarney Stone.
There was no concert today, so the rest of the evening was spent relaxing and taking in some of the sights of Edinburgh.