Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: Glee Club Trip -

March 14, 2009

Thursday, March 12: Philadelphia Museum of Art/Freedom VIllage Retirement Home Concert


Today was a wonderful day in Philadelphia. The sun shone for the first time all week and I was ready to enjoy my last day in Philly. I woke with my roommates to go to breakfast at Elephant and Castle restaurant where I ordered some scrumptious buttermilk pancakes. Afterwards, the Glee Club met with Dr. Bowen to discuss the day’s activities.
We proceeded to board the bus to the Art Museum. Not only is it one of the biggest museums in the country, but it is also famous for its scene in Rocky, where Rocky ran up the steps to the museum in triumph. The museum hosted famous art by Cezanne, Delacroix, Monet, as well as many Asian and contemporary pieces. After walking around for a while, my group left to walk around the city where we ended up in Chinatown and ate lunch. After lunch, we walked around the Reading Market and eventually made our way back to the Hotel.
After a quick (and I mean very quick) nap, we traveled to Freedom Village outside of Coatesville, Pennsylvania and performed our last concert. The concert was great--I felt it sounded better than any of our previous concerts. We were shocked when during our performance of “Good Ol’ Accapella”, Dr. Bowen and our accompanist Cheryl Everett danced around. It was a great way to end the concert.
After the concert we traveled to Fred Wampler’s house. Mr. Wampler is a ’57 Wabash Alum and past Orpheus Club president who lives in a colonial house built in 1732. I was astounded by the architecture and the quaint little space it was contained in. They were such a wonderful family. In the end, it was a great way to end our tour. We sang well and got to meet a great alum. Tomorrow we travel back to beautiful Crawfordsville to conclude our tour and this wonderful Spring Break. Wabash always Fights!
--Chris Zabriskie, '12

You really know you are having a blast on a trip when you are woken up by your roommates having a loud conversation and looking at your phone and seeing that it is Thursday and realizing that your trip is almost over.  This day started out with a breakfast at restauranthotelAfter realizing that we only had ten minutes left to eat we head to our rehearsal, we quickly headed to our meeting room where Dr. Bowen educated the whole choir about the art museum that we were headed to. After arriving at the museum, we split off into smaller groups.  My group spent most of them time looking at the European and Asian exhibits.

                After spending most of our morning in the museum we walked to a Chinese restaurant to grab some lunch. You truly know you are in an authentic Chinatown restaurant when the music playing in the restaurant is not oriental, the rests room is as small as your closet at home and the food is absolutely delicious.  Later that afternoon we headed to Freedom Village, which is the biggest and nicest retirement home I have ever seen. I have only toured with the glee club once before this year, but both trips I found that performing for nursing homes is the best performance, as the audience is more familiar with our music. Performing at the nursing home is always a treat and is a great way to end the day.

--Bryan Burzon, '11


Top: You can't be in Philly without visiting one of the Rocky shrines

Middle: The Philadelphia Art Museum has one of the largest collections of arms and armor in the nation

Bottom: The gateway into Chinatown

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March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11th: Kimmel Center for Performing Arts/Rosemont Village Retirement Home


It happened today that a group of good friends and I were in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. After finishing a tour of Independence Hall, Justin, Jon, Ben, Patrick, and I hurried over to Macy’s (catching a bite to eat at a cheesesteak stand along the way) to listen to the famous Wanamaker Organ, the world’s largest operating organ. Unfortunately, having not been told the correct time, we missed the organ recital. Suppressing emotions of disappointment and wondering what to do with ourselves, we decided to go upstairs and see the six-keyboard organ consol before we left. Fortunately, our luck was about to change.. Hunched over the keys and twiddling with the stops was a gentleman tuning up a few of the pipes. Knowing we needed new plans, I asked the man if we could come up and see the consol up close. He agreed, and, after answering a few general questions and showing us a few functions of the consol, he asked us if we were interested in the mechanics of the organ. Not realizing what he was really offering us, we almost said no to him and went back to the hotel. Of course, once we understood what he was asking, we excitedly said yes. We were given the opportunity to do take a private, personalized, up-close tour of the world’s largest organ! The door to the organ was camouflaged in a wall, and to get to it we had to wade through rows of women’s clothing, but we made it through without stopping. Walking through the door was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. We went from clean, bright, and modern to a dark old room that hadn’t changed since the organ was built in the first half of the 20th century.
For the next hour, we were guided up and down ladders, between giant tubes, along narrow catwalks, and through whole rooms stuffed with pipes from the size of straws to giant trees. It is amazing to think that all 29,000 pipes—most of which we didn’t see—were all part of one giant instrument controlled by ten fingers, two feet, and one brain!
--Forrest Craig, ‘11

Work commenced this morning at 9:30 with rehearsal in the hotel. We have almost all of our music memorized now, which is a real plus for the overall quality of the music we present. The T-tones are now ready to perform “Happy Together” for the first time (yes, that “Happy Together”). That being said, I was a little nervous about that going into tonight’s concert.

In the afternoon a small group of us went to hear the Wanamaker Organ. You can read all about that in Forrest’s entry. There’s a big difference from entering a department store and hearing Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift to hearing Brahms, Bach, and Mozart coming out of those enormous pipes.
We also got to sing a couple numbers today in the Kimmell Center’s symphonic hall. Not on stage or anything, just from the seats while taking a guided tour. But it was neat to be in such a beautiful space, just opened in 2001, dedicated to doing, on a much larger scale, what I see as a vital part of even our mission. Philadelphia is a place that takes music seriously, and it’s really good to be here and be a part of that.
Our concert at Rosemont Village went well. A solid performance all around, and as always a very appreciative audience. Actually, even more appreciative than we normally have. I had a couple residents come and ask me where they could buy our CD! It’s great to be out on the road, sharing the gift of song with the world. Only one more concert to go!
-- Royce V. Gregerson, ’09



Top: Ben Harvill explores the Wannamaker Organ

Middle: Just a few of the 29,000 pipes

Bottom: A little pre-concert warmup

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Monday, March 9: Arrive in Philly/Orpheus Club Concert

First, a brief introduction for the Orpheus Club. The Orpheus Club has been unchallenged in claiming to be longest lasting men’s singing group in the nation, formed in 1872. Their two-story building in downtown Philly held a lot of nostalgia. The first floor was their rehearsal area to seat their 75+ member group, including a stage. The second floor was their meeting room that doubled as a venue for meals (including our dinner that evening). Our dinner was provided by a Wabash Alum and current Orpheus member Fred Wampler ('57).  

After dinner, both groups exchanged songs downstairs for the better part of an hour. Their repertoire was similar to ours in that they had the songs of brotherhood, love, and sacred works. After the hour was up, we marched back upstairs to a more intimate atmosphere of smaller singing ensembles and refreshments—known as “Round Table Singing”. Of the small groups that were formed, there was even a duet of an Orpheus Club member and Wabash's own Steve Maynard '11. The songs sung by the Orpheus Club were a gas—it made for an incredibly enjoyable evening.

                                                        --Patrick Griffith, '11


Top Right: Some of the Orpheus Club's best perform for both groups

Bottom Left: The man of the trip, Fred Wampler ('57) goes solo

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March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10: St. Peter's Church/Philadelphia Wanderings

              Today started exiting enough with two false fire alarms between 7:30 and 8:00 am. We then had practice from 9:10 to 10:00 am. At 10:20 we took the bus to Independence Hall, where the First and Second Continental Congresses met to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. While we were in the room where the Congresses met, we sang the Star Spangled banner, which seemed to go over well with the rest of the tour group.

                We then were allowed to wander around Philadelphia until around 5:00 pm. The first thing we did was to eat at the Old City Tavern, where many of the founding fathers were said to have eaten. I ordered the braised rabbit which was very good. Upon finishing lunch, we went to see the Liberty Bell.   After visiting the inspiring symbol, some of us travelled back to the Crown Plaza Hotel, where I took a much needed nap.
                At 5:45 pm we boarded the tour bus and left for St: Peter Episcopal Church. The church had magnificent interior and good acoustics. After rehearsing several of our numbers we sang for a decently sized crowd. Two of our numbers, “Send in the Clowns” and “Hark I hear the Harps Eternal”, seemed to go especially well tonight. After the concert we attended a reception in the church, where all of the refreshments were provided by Erica Rau, the mother of one of our fellow members of the Glee Club, Dante. Our first full day in Philadelphia went very well and I am looking forward to tomorrow.
--Lucian Lupinski, ‘11
After a thrilling night of song with the Orpheus Club, our group held a short rehearsal at the Crown Plaza. We then departed for our group tour of Independence Hall, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Though I had been to these sights when I was younger, it was still a great experience. The amount of history contained in those walls and the knowledge that men and women central to the birth of our nation occupied those spaces is really something to take in slowly. After the tour finished, the Glee Club sang the Star Spangled Banner in the signing room. This is something I will never forget.
                 After our tour, the group had a little down time before departing at 5:30 for our concert in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. We sang at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to a good-sized crowd. The audience really seemed to like “Something” and “Send in the Clowns.”
                All in all, today was a great day. I hope tomorrow is just as good.
--Aaron Bonar, ‘10


Top: The one and only Liberty Bell

Middle: George Washington's pew at Christ Espicopalian Church

Bottom: A battleship anchors in the Delaware River off Penn's Landing

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Sunday, March 8: St. Paul's Church (Pittsburgh)

As our bus pulled away from our motel Sunday morning, a 6-car police chase passed us by (a good omen for our day of driving). On the road, some slept, some read, and there were card games; we kept ourselves entertained. When we arrived at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, near Pittsburgh, we performed an afternoon concert, which went well. After, we had dinner with our pleasant audience and met our hosts for the night.

                Sunday evening rooming arrangements were different. We stayed in the homes of the families for whom we had performed. My hosts were the Roths, who were as hospitable as can be. The mother, Sandy Roth, took me and my roommates on a driving tour of downtown Pittsburgh and then to Mt. Washington for a scenic view of the city. Seeing the city and meeting the families made this a unique and very enjoyable night. The next morning, most Glee Club members returned to the bus with various baked goods and snacks from our hosts.
--Andrew Kunze, ‘12

                 After a long and invariably interesting bus ride, the Glee Club arrived finally in Pittsburgh. We unloaded our things from the bus and had a hasty rehearsal, followed by an afternoon concert at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (of which, Dr. Bowen’s sister is a member). I was surprised to see a good following of Wabash alumni in the crowd; they’re easily identified as they stand to sing “Old Wabash” with us.

                Post concert, the church provided a dinner for us, where we met our host families for the evening. Chris, Bryan, and I were set up with the White Family, who gave us the windshield tour of downtown Pittsburgh. On the tour we saw the various stadia (Heinz Field, PNC Park, Mellon Arena), commercial buildings, skyscrapers, and of course the conflux of the three rivers. Afterwards, we went back to their 100+ year old house for the evening to enjoy an evening of conversation, playtime with their three dogs (which were as large as Bryan, no joke), and, of course, food. The second day of tour definitely did not disappoint.
--Pete Guiden, ‘12


Top: Wabash students enjoy a little time off the bus at a roadside A&W

Middle: You know you're in Pittsburgh when you see the Steeler's home field

Bottom: Our host family wasn't joking when they advertised "Must love dogs"

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March 10, 2009

Saturday, March 7: Morehouse/Wabash Combined Concert

Our trip began early Saturday morning with much anticipation for concert at the North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. As a senior, this is my last Glee Club tour and I am extremely excited to do this one last time. We have practiced long and hard over the past few weeks in preparation for this trip. I have never been to Philadelphia, and cannot wait to see what the city has to offer.


I was extremely excited to sing along side our fellow all-male institution Morehouse College. They have a very impressive reputation and I could not wait to listen to the various styles of music they were going to perform. Upon listening to them, I was completely blown away. They sang an array of songs that truly showcased their talent. I really enjoyed their performance of “Betelehemu” for they combined singing, instrumentation, and choreography into grand spectacle. Singing along side Morehouse was another great experience. It has been a while to since I have sung with an extremely large group and our sound was simply amazing. I cannot wait to perform in front of the many other audiences we are scheduled to sing for. 
--Ronald King ‘09
                Ah, Spring Break; the halfway mark for second semester. While some sprinted from their last classes to pack bags for immersion trips, car rides home, or other exotic locations, I packed for the Glee Club Spring Break tour. Our first destination: North United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. We met and performed with fellow single-sex institution, Morehouse College.  When talking with the students of Morehouse, we weren’t asked the typical question, “You go to an all male school? How is that?” Instead, we exchanged inquiries on majors, future plans, and the nightlife of Atlanta and Crawfordsville. The camaraderie was refreshing.
The actual performance of our combined glee clubs was simply electric. First, Morehouse took center stage and left the audience (Wabash Glee Club included) dumbfounded. Goosebumps were aplenty after the first thirty seconds. At times, I could close my eyes and forget I was listening to a college choir and easily imagine I was hearing a full symphony. When we took stage afterwards, we performed a completely different repertoire, to a fully receptive audience. The finale, a joint performance of “Every Time I Feel The Spirit” and “Brother Sing On” reminded me why I joined this club. 
--Miles Ashton, ‘12


Top: Wabash College's T-Tones warm up at North United Methodist

Center: Morehouse and Wabash Glee Club Members link arms for the singing of Morehouse's Alma Mater

Bottom: A meet-and-greet dinner for both Glee Clubs preceded the concert

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March 09, 2009

Glee Club Joins Forces with Morehouse

Howard W. Hewitt – The Wabash College and Morehouse College Glee Clubs combined voice Saturday night in Indianapolis to kick off their respective spring concert tours.

The North United Methodist Church, at 38th and Meridian, billed the concert as “Together Again.” Indeed, the clubs performed together in 2006 in the same venue but this year drew an even bigger crowd filling pews to near the back of the church.
The acclaimed Morehouse Glee Club comes from the nation’s largest, private liberal arts college for African-American men. The Morehouse Glee Club gained acclaim singing during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Morehouse opened the program with five songs and then Wabash followed up with its entire set, with an intermission at midpoint. Morehouse then returned with its College Quartet and the entire club performedBetelehemu sung in Yoruba which brought the entire audience to its feet.
Then the evening’s most anticipated moment came when the clubs combined voice for Ev’ry Time I Feel The Spirit, directed by Morehouse Director Dr. David Morrow, and Brothers, Sing On, led by Wabash’s Dr. Richard Bowen.
The crowning moment of the concert was again the singing of the two schools’ alma maters. Wabash graduates joined the combined choirs as the Wabash Glee Club led the singing. Then Morehouse alums locked arms with the Morehouse students to honor their school.
The joint concert beings a spring tour for both school. The Wabash men will be performing in Pennsylvania throughout the week. Morehouse sang at an early morning worship service at North Methodist before hitting the road for its spring tour.
The combined effort is something special. It begs for other such collaborations across the unique niche of liberal arts colleges for men!

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