Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I was accepted into the Glee Club in my junior (Barty's last as director) and immediately went out and bought a used set of tails, white vest and bow tie. I couldn't afford one formal shirt, let alone several that you would need for a week long tour. However, in those days, you could buy a cardboard dickey and collar set for $1.50, as I recall. The dickey slipped under the white vest and was joined to the collar at the necy by a collar button. It worked out very well, and the audience couldn't tell that you weren't wearing a shirt unless you raised your hand high. (I made a point of not waving at anyone while wearing my tails.) I took several dickie collar sets on our winter tour.

In my senior year I thought three sets was rather extravagant, so I got just one and took along an art gum eraser, in case it got dirty. However, Fenno put "Where the Elm Tree Grows" on the program. As you know, the first verse ends with the proud riishman patting his chest with pride for the spot where the shamrock grows, accompanied by striking our chest three times.. The second verse, however, ends with "the true hearted" sons of old Eli, pounding our chests with clenched fists three times, "for the spot where the elm tree grows."

By the time our tour endded, that cardboard dickey was as limp as a dishrag.

Monday, August 24, 2009

From Dick Smith '54

"A Japanese chorus touring our country gave a concert at Woolsey Hall, circa 1975. We put one of the students up at our house for two days, returning, in kind, the favor extended to me by a Dutch family during the Glee Club tour of Europe in 1954".

"Afterwards, he and I exchanged music - I gave him a Yale songbook and he gave me a piece of sheetmusic from their program that night, which he laboriously copied by hand - notes, tempi and dynamic markings and wors in both English and Japanese. Teh ong is beautiful. I get choked up when I hum it to myself. I learned that singing will deliver a message from the heart in any language".

Dick sent a copy of the music to the Glee Club office and it will be kept here. He hopes that if YAC or YGC ever tours Japan, it would be wonderful to sing the song for them. (SM)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FROM Peyton G. Craighill '51

Since I've just been asked for my memories of my years in the Glee Club, I'm responding.
I have so many wonderful memories that they overwhelm me. But by far the most outstanding one is of our Caribean tour in the spring of 1951. This was Barty's last tour. Fenno participated as a fellow member of the tenor section. During these past months when we've been recalling his tremendous contribution to choral singing, it's been a special joy for me to remember our friendship on that tour.
The year 1951 provided a window that made our tour possible. After that it rapidly closed. Even then, when we sang in Havana and Santiago, we were well aware of the political changes ahead and the inequalities in society that were bringing them on. This was also true in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. But for us who soon would be leaving our college years and moving on to our careers in the world, we didn't give too much thought to political and social tensions. After a cold winter in grey, grimy New Haven, we basked in our lovely tropical surroundings, sang our best in our concerts, and had fun splashing under the sun in hotel pools. I especially remember a cockfight in Cuba, the drums of Haiti, and a glimpse of a Voodoo ritual there. Our receptions everywhere were outstanding, in particular at the presidential palaces in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Coming back to Miami couldn't help but be a letdown. For people there we were just another college glee club - no longer ambassadors from the great neighbor to the north!


Somewhere in the YGC files there is some footage (video?) of an interivew with me about Barty and especially the great 1939 YGC European tour from Paris to Brussels, Denmark through Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and ending in Budapest, on the eve of WWII. If unfindable, I would be happy to be interivewed again for the new film. I have a copious scrapbook and diary, with a bunch of pictures, of that fabulous trip. I may be one of the few still alive and actively singing (partly with the Whiffs or concerts at private venues) to tell the tale. As history records, Barty pioneered international tours in order to bring nations together in song. It was an ideal born of his experiences in WWI. He remained a special friend of mine over the years, to the extent of asking sing me to sing his immortal arrangements of Pretty Saro and Little Mawhee, with him at the piano, at a major YGC Reunion at Yale (Graduate School building) in the 40s or 50s.


Thank you for your letter. It calls up many happy (and aged) memories having been in the Glee Club some sixty-five years ago. Some of the most poignant memories were singing with Barty (si vox est canta), Grey Mattern and Fenno Heath were also members at the time. I went on to sing with the Columbia University chorus, was instrumental in helping found a singing group in Medical School, the P&S Bards and later sang in our church choir and local University chorus in Wisconsin. It all dates back to Barty. Best regards. Doug Tompkins 1946


Meeting and Working With the
Indefatigable Barty

One of my objectives when I arrived at Yale was to sing in the Glee Club. And so, sometime early in the Fall Term of 1956 I appeared, on time and scared, for my audition with Fenno.

Hendrie was bustling, as aspiring Glee Clubbers came face to face for the first time with a few of the returning veterans. The atmosphere, for us supplicants, was tense. Whatever our prior singing experiences might have been, this was different. This was the big time.

In the midst of all this, I remember noticing an elderly gentleman who seemed to be somehow a part of the proceedings but whose role I couldn’t discern. I noticed that the veterans all seemed to know him but no one introduced me.

I survived the audition experience and left, shaken.

About 10 days later, sometime after my first rehearsal with the Freshman Glee Club, I got a phone call. Barty graciously introduced himself and, without much preamble, said that after the next FGC rehearsal I was to meet him in a room on the second floor of the Graduate Club where there was a piano and where we’d do more singing.

Now I was really scared. What had I done to attract the attention of this great man? Had I offended someone? Him? Did he think, perhaps, that my singing was so bad that it needed his personal corrective attention? I certainly knew who he was but I was certain, too, that I’d never met him.

After the next rehearsal, I went as ordered next door the Graduate Club, found the upstairs room with the piano, and there was Barty. Friendly, welcoming, enthusiastic and, as I was to learn, relentless. He had assembled about 6-8 of us freshmen, as I recall it, and he said he thought it was important for us to learn … really learn … the core of the traditional Yale songs.

As I remeber it, we met maybe 6 times, following the regular weekly rehearsals, and Barty made sure that we learned - and really knew - songs like Wake Freshmen Wake, Bingo, Mother of Men, We Meet Again Tonight, Shall I Wasting, Bandolero, Careless Love and many more. In the course of these sessions, we learned just how strongly Barty believed that these and other songs had played an important role in establishing the international ambassadorial traditions of the Yale Glee Club. Barty certainly know about the power of song.

It was wonderfully generous of Barty, who had “retired” in 1953. It is one of my earliest and happiest memories of Yale and of the YGC. And what a privilege it was!

FROM John Wallace '51

I tried sending this earlier, but my computer decided to give a sudden upgrade and quit on me. What I was reflecting was a concert we were giving at Hunter College just about the time Barty retired. Fenno was conducting, and we thought he was the best. Although we were always beautiful, we tried hard to be flawless on this occasion because we thought he was the best. He got the job. The rest is history. Thanks for the plan. John Wallace, '51