Wednesday, August 19, 2009

From Charlton Lyons - REVIEWS OF THE 1941 TOUR


The two paragraphs next following appear at the top of the second page of the author’s typescript and are the continuation of a review of the opening concert, which review began on the missing first page and which appeared in some newspaper of uncertain date published in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The propaganda by these students is of the very best: artistic, a perfect performance in the field of choral singing, because it was a most edifying example which might be followed by our university students who choose much less interesting pastimes.
The truth is that in spite of the titanic efforts of Villa-Lobos, we still do not know how to sing in Brazil. And the proof of this, sad as it is, was when the Maestro directed the Brazilian National Anthem and turned toward the audience to lead them, but could find only a half a dozen who could sing it.

[Author’s comment. Because it was so briefly mentioned by me in the book itself, I have the following further comment on theappearance of Villa-Lobos at the Glee Club’s opening concert inRio. The review from which these two paragraphs are extracted was of the first, or opening concert of the South American tour. The unknown reviewer reports that “the Maestro” directed the Brazilian National Anthem. Although possibly not made clear, the “Maestro” was in fact the world famous composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, who was not merely in the audience that night but who, by prearrangement, came up on the stage to conduct the Yale Glee Club in its performance of its first number, the Brazilian National Anthem. And it was during our singing of their National Anthem that Villa-Lobos turned to the audience to conduct the audience as well. The Yale Glee Club did know that country’s national anthem—we knew it very, very well and could sing it a splendid version of Portuguese, but the Brazilians did not. I remember the occasion perfectly—well, almost perfectly. I have no recollection of the near silence of the audience reported by the reviewer, a silence owing to the fact that only a few could sing it. But, singing my own head off, I would not have heard that silence anyway, would I? No! Certainly not!]

Correio da Manha (July 5)
The best of propaganda is Art because it is universally understood. The presentation of the Yale Glee Club at the CulturaArtistica was an exceptionally artistic event. The date of July 2, 1941 will be engraved in our artistic annals as one of the most friendly, the most interesting, and the most instructive events because of the proof that it gave us of the culture and love of music among American students. The Yale Glee Club is a model for any country. It is an invaluable institution. Its success was complete and it makes a great victory for the Cultura Artistica.

O Jornal (July 4) - Ayres de Andrade
Hollywood never told us that in the United States there exists a chorus as perfect as the Yale Glee Club. Made up of students of Yale University, the Glee Club can be favorably compared to any professional chorus in the whole world. The expressive flexibility of the ensemble is really remarkable. Rigorous discipline and the goodtaste revealed in the choice of program brought to the audience moments of great beauty and deep emotion.”

Jornal do Commercio (July 9) - Andrade Muricy
The first concert of the Yale Glee Club was a performance of the highest artistic attainment. From this first contact with the public these young singers immediately touched the artistic sensibility of the audience and conquered their sympathies. Their welcome among us is guaranteed.
Choral singing is not new to us and for this reason it is easy to make comparisons which yesterday were entirely in favor of the students.
The Yale Glee Club brings from North America a message which will have profound repercussions, for it touches the emotions and the artistic appreciation of the Brazilians.


Although São Paulo is now the largest city south of the equator, the Glee Club sang only one concert there, leaving that same night by special train for Santos, where it re-boarded the Brazil.

Diario de Sāo Paulo (July 5)
The discipline, perfect pitch, perfect taste with which the program was chosen deserve the highest praise. A beautiful concert and even more a beautiful lesson to us.

Correio Paulistano (July 5)
Much was expected of this chorus for its fame had proceeded it from the United States and there were excellent reports of its concerts in Rio. Yet this performance far surpassed all expectations and each number called forth a thunder of applause. The theatre yesterday was too small to hold the multitudes that wished to attend this concert. The enthusiasm and applause lasted through the entire performance.


El Dia (July 8)
It should be pointed out that the presence of this chorus in Montevideo is one of the most pleasing and the most positive aspectsof the cultural exchange which is taking place between Uruguay and the United States. The Yale students are typical exponents of theNorth American colleges. Tall, gay, with an air of tranquil ease, theyshowed by their manners the characteristic freedom and poise of the North American. Even while still on board ship, waiting to land, they sang several beautiful songs of their country.
This is a university chorus, a chorus composed of students; that is of amateurs who have reached a perfection and training in no way inferior to the best male choirs we have heard. These are the fresh young voices of sixty young men who sing with the skill of professionals, but, because they are not professionals, they sing even with more ardor, with more devotion and more enthusiasm. Theyhave voices remarkably well trained and selected, skillfully balanced and harmonized, that constitute an admirable instrument.
The Yale Glee Club revealed in yesterday’s audition extreme vivacity and flexibility in the interpretation of various kinds of compositions. It possesses an unique mastery, a finished control of the choral technique which manifests itself in the assurance of the attack, in the preciseness and vigor of its rhythms, and the perfection of the crescendos, in the admirable pianissimo, in the clearness of its expression which reached the most ample gamut of tone shading and gives to all the numbers a very interesting and fine musical quality.
This attractive student choir was vigorously applauded and they were obliged to give frequent encores. The impression they made was excellent and there is no doubt that there will be a full house at the second and final concert tomorrow.

El Diario (July 8)
An original and pleasant note, not lacking in artistic values, was given to Montevideo by these young and well trained North American students who compose the Yale Glee Club and whosepresentation at the Estudio Auditorio yesterday afternoon assembled a large audience. A vast program created a real enthusiasm. The audience applauded heartily both singers and director.

El Dia( July 9)
North American and Uruguayian students were gathered together yesterday in the University in a beautiful act of brotherhood. The Yale Glee Club in a public function organized bythe Uruguay Student Federation, was welcomed and honored in the university assembly hall. Our students wished to express the pleasure which they feel in the visit of these boys who have come to Montevideo to bring an example of the spirit of American youth, a pleasant mission of cultural exchange.
It ought to be said that we have never seen such a large crowd as gathered yesterday in the assembly hall of the university. Students from all schools and departments, from private schoolssuch as the Crandon Institute and Licee Francais, came in great numbers to welcome these friendly guests. The orchestra and the gallery were filled to the top and even the entrance stairways were crowded. When the Yale students appeared on the platform the unanimous ovation lasting for several minutes expressed the respect of these Uruguayian colleagues.
A student, Anibal Radellino, spoke in English on behalf of the Uruguayian Federation of University Students, pointing out that the Uruguayian students acknowledge with great satisfaction the presence of the representatives of one of the world’s most famous and honored universities. He said that this brotherhood of students among American nations, geographically so far apart, is a faithful expression of the spirit of solidarity that moves the youth of the American hemisphere toward the defense of our liberties and our rights, so endangered at this time. Donald S. Devor, Jr., President of the Yale Glee Club, answered with heartfelt and cordial words, pointing out the democratic motives that brought the Yale students to Uruguay.
Then the chorus gave a series of admirable renditions of North American folk tunes. They sang in English but the spiritual vibration of these songs crossed over the language difference and reached the public as an exact expression of the spirit of a young,powerful and idealistic nation. A unanimous ovation greeted this performance and the Yale students as they left the hall and fused with the crowd that surrounded them and accompanied them with lively indications of friendship.


La Prensa (July 16)
This panorama of choral music, made up of about twenty-six compositions, was interpreted by the Yale Club with perfect pitch, richness and variety of tone, and impeccable musical taste. Each one of these numbers became, thanks to the indeed remarkable skill of the conductor and the discipline and personal qualities so finely assembled in this group of Yale students, a rendition of unusually high rank that never weakened in spite of the wide range, the variety in style, manner, spiritual level and expression.
Beautiful songs of the sea, literary or folkloric South American songs, sung with good diction in Spanish or Portuguese, such as Alberto William’s “Canción del mal tiempo”, expressed with infinite poetry, or Hector Villa-Lobos’ “O tremsinho” a humorous and imitative page, filled with priceless good humor; admirable negro spirituals in the interpretation of which the choir seemed like a really human organ, an organ because of its sonority and human because of its emotion. Almost everyone of these had to be repeated.
There were gay student songs, sacred music which brought out evidence of the choir being a polyphonic group of high rank. Everything contributed to make this concert an outstanding artistic event which honors the leader and his supporters and which theaudience applauded most enthusiastically. The second concert will take place tomorrow.

La Nación (July 11)
Throughout the unfolding of this program, the chorus gave evidence of those qualities which make of it an organization of raremerit in its class, not only on account of its discipline and homogeneity, and of the flexibility with which it follows the slightest indications of its conductor but also because of the variety of resources that it is able to display.
Besides faultless pitch and adjustment, the Yale Glee Club has some voices of excellent timbre (particularly a tenor and a baritone), who contributed interest to the solo parts. Very felicitous likewise are the humming effects, the imitation of instruments, and onomatopoeias, etc. From the standpoint of interpretation they sing with equal efficacy both gay and light popular tunes as well as the serene melodies of poetic atmosphere, or compositions of greater depth and artistic value.
A large audience which followed with interest the progress of this program received the brilliant performance with continued signs of approval. The Yale Glee Club because of the public’s insistence had to repeat many of the numbers and add others as encores.”

El Mundo (July 11)
The chorus of Yale University which last night appeared at the Odeón is a group of excellent merit. This is shown by its homogeneity, its tone quality, its discipline and its ability to give each work the shape and modulation which determines its quality. This group of selected young voices which as a result of its good discipline is able to compete with professional choruses and which lends to its interpretations the enthusiasm and energy of those who generously give their gifts to the service of art, obtained last night the most enthusiastic reception of a large audience.

Libertad (July 11)
Last night appeared in the Odeón theatre the Yale Glee Club and obtained an excellent artistic success before a large audience. Itis, as we have written, a group which comes on an artistic tour and as a spiritual brotherhood, without any utilitarian purpose whatever.

Critica (July 11)
The Yale Glee Club made yesterday in its first concert anunsurpassable impression. It is not just a good student choir, it is areally perfect organization which interprets with musical judgment and adaptability the style of each composition; traditional songs aswell as the sacred music of Victoria or of di Lasso; the folkloric expression of the Americas, as well as student songs from all over the world.
The choir impresses one by the vigor and freshness of the voices, by the variety of its resources, by the enthusiasm of each of its members, and by the excellent direction and discipline of their leader.
The choir sang with good diction and correct style songs ofArgentina, Brazil, etc. The way in which they have assimilated the peculiarities of the Argentinian and Brazilian folklore is really remarkable.
May the example of this great North American University and of these students who sing with fervor and good taste, with the souls of real artists, spread into our atmosphere and give rise to the formation of similar choirs for the benefit of our own culture.

La Razon (July 11)
Last night Marshall Bartholomew had the satisfaction of seeing once again the success of his chorus. The audience of the Odeón accorded them the most cordial and most enthusiastic reception. The chorus showed charming quality and had to repeat several numbers. [We were constantly being required everywhere to repeat certain songs: they would simply refuse to let us go on.]

El Diario (July 12)
The Yale Glee Club is a group of young men who love to sing and are perfectly trained. The North American Chorus showed an exquisite musical sensitiveness, a freshness of voices and perfectpitch, sometimes sounding like marvelous musical instruments of incomparable sonority and exactness rather than just a chorus of human voices. We admired in some of the compositions the humming which gave the impression of a murmur accompanying the song; in others we applauded the sustained open notes which were a counterpoint to the melodies. The conductor used these resources with moderation and good taste. Some of the soloists were unusual –
the tenor and the baritone have really excellent voices, well timbred, well adjusted to the interpretation of the music.

El Pueblo (July 15)
After all we have already said about this matter there is very little we could add with respect to this excellent choral group, the Yale Glee Club, which has just given with extraordinary success its third concert.
These ambassadors of North American artistic culture show very well that in this great Northern country the adoration of sports and of jazz is not everything. They had to give a number of encores.
La Prensa (July 17)
The Yale Glee Club seems to be more than just a student choir, it is a group of professionals who still preserve their youthful enthusiasm and have not yet been mechanized by the daily work in an opera house. Their songs were interpreted with a musical sense, artistic fervor, and discipline.
The Argentine audience showed their appreciation of these qualities by offering these North American students and their leader the warmest reception and the most affectionate farewell.


La Capital (July 15)
Throughout this program the chorus demonstrates qualities not often found in an organization of this kind, outstanding in unity and balance, making their program – so varied in style, spirit, and sentiment – particularly attractive and with an accuracy of pitch that is difficult to surpass.


Los Andes (July 19)
It is easy for us to admit that this is the most extraordinary choral group that has ever visited our Republic. The discipline of its members, their perfect homogeneity, the unique skill with which theyachieve onomatopoeic sound effects, the complete balance of voices, raised this program to a high level and gave complete musical values to the compositions which composed it.
These young singers from Yale are indeed advanced scholars of beauty and art. They are ambassadors of that hemispheric fraternity which can be achieved by means of music. The audience rendered enthusiastic and warm ovations to these charming guests.


El Imparcial (July 20)
They sing with refined taste, with perfect pitch, theaudience applauded warmly and called for encores. They are missionaries of the songs of their country, and as such they deserve the affectionate welcome extended to them, extended without any reservations by the youth of Chile.


El Mercurio (July 25)
The visit of the Yale Glee Club to South America at the verymoment in which all the nations of the western hemisphere are united in a supreme ideal of liberty is not only a spiritual bond between our peoples but also the most beautiful message of fraternal understanding. We heard yesterday these heralds of friendship singing the language of humanity, expressed in passage of folkloric music, compositions of classic polyphony, sacred numbers, student songs, choral selections from all over the world.
We could not classify them just as another choral group of first class quality. There is something different here. The boys of theYale Glee Club – in our opinion – are part of the spirit of North America; they have that naturalness which permits them to interpret anything that has beauty and poetry.
Seeing Mr. Bartholomew conduct produces a sensation of watching a strange organist who with miraculous hands manipulates the keys of sound, sure of his results. [This description of Barty’s conducting is just as the author so clearly remembers it.]

La Union (July 25)
These young men arrived as artistic emissaries. They came and they succeeded because this is a magnificent group whosediscipline, homogeneity, and skill remind us of other great choirs which have visited us in the past. And one must point out that the core, the soul of this group, is the personality of its conductor in whom one may appreciate the musician with a real vocation fully accomplishing his duties.
The simplicity of these interpretations -- let us not forget that they are students and not professionals -- imparts a personal and sincere flavor to each composition. At the same time the quality of shading obtained and the exquisite poetic feeling revealed sensitiveness and temperament.
This artistic mission has served to show us that what the movies and the radio are spreading is not all that the United States produces in music.

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