Thursday, May 14, 2009

High Point ....Hilton Head... Virginia Beach........ FINALLY INTERNET!

Hey all... as i write this i am sitting on a balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that's right, we are in Virginia Beach right on the Boardwalk. I have not blogged in a couple of days because of the lack of internet access in the south so let me catch you up. We arrived in High Point, NC after a long 12 + hour bus ride and one nasty thunderstorm. When we arrived our hosts graciously met us there and took us home. I was with Bob. Bob was a member of the glee club in the past and this is the 5th time he has hosted us in High Point. We got to spend some time (Myself, Michael Martin and Andrew Till) listening to the 1975 High Point Concert. It was amazing to see how the sound has changed over the years. We then had a great concert with a packed church. It may have been that we sang at church earlier that day, it could have been the energy we expended at the YMCA or it could be the wonderful publicity that Bob did. Either Way High Point, NC was a great stay.

The Next Morning we departed for Hilton Head Island, SC. When we arrived we quickly went home with our hosts and then were right back on the concert scene. This concert was set up by my host Bud, and the Hilton Head Island University of Michigan Alumni Association. Once again we had a great concert and did a "tour prank" on Doc by wearing long john silver paper pirate hats during Michigan Men. It was hilarious but we all had a sense that Doc knew that our prank was coming during that concert. We then went back with our hosts. The next day we had a free day in Hilton Head Island. Myself and Danny Dunlap were given passes to the Hilton Head Island Country Club and we used the workout facilities as well as the pool, and then headed down to the beach. It was not the greatest beach day because it was overcast, but none the less it was fun getting to be by the Atlantic Ocean. We then all got back together with our hosts and had a great picnic with lots of food. Doc was presented with a book about Hilton Head Island on behalf of all of us.

This morning we left for Virginia Beach. It was a long ride to get here but it was well worth it. Day 2 of 3 resting before our next concert and we are all doing great. We had a certain activity for four members of each voice part and the Basses were victorious followed by Tenor 2s, Baritones and then Tenor 1s. It is great getting to relax on this balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We will be in Philadelphia tomorrow and it will be a lot of fun and we will be well rested for Friday's concert.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

High Point

Its been a few days since I've had a chance to update. I have so much to say on NYC, but that will wait. Today, I am posting from a veritable southern mansion. Walking into the home of the Jacobs family, one may expect to see Scarlet come down the stairwell. Instead of Scarlet O'Hare, this is the home of one Ms. North Carolina 2008, of less literary fame, but Scarlet never had to wear a tierra.

We were greeted by Kaye, a kind woman with a Southern accent who will not let a single spot of our stomach's empty out. Gene, a former Wolverine football player who played in the snowbowl, treated us to some barbeque dinner. Then we came back and had a good night sleep, which is perhaps the best part of all.

Day 4: Free day in NYC

Today was an excellent day in the Big Apple. I spent a good part of the day with my big brother Iggy. He and I, after getting breakfast, headed to Rockefeller Center to the NBC Studios. We took a wonderful NBC Studios tour, which allowed us to see the great history of the National Broadcasting Company. While on the tour we got to be on the set of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. While we were on the set they were broadcasting MSNBC Live and we got to see what goes into a live broadcast. The record for going on air with a breaking news story is 48 seconds. That includes getting the anchor to the desk, the cameras up and ready and the lighting perfect. We then continued on the tour where we got to see the set of Saturday Night Live. This was awesome because we got to see them load the sets into the studio. At the end of the tour, James (Iggy) and I got standby tickets to the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon; unfortunately we did not get to be a part of that experience. We did get to eat lunch at the world famous Carnegie Deli and trust me the sandwiches were huge.

We also got to walk around and take pictures of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is absolutely beautiful.

Doc, Elliot, Joe W., Drew Smith, Ethan, Phil Viges, and myself headed to the Mets game versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. My prediction was that the Mets would win 7-2. The final score was 7-3, and we got to see a Michigan Alum, J.J. Putz, pitch for the Mets.

It was a great time and I really enjoyed the free time we had in NYC. A long bus ride ahead of us tomorrow down to High Point, NC.

Day 3: New York City

Greetings from New York City! When we arrived here it was pouring and pretty nasty. We arrived a little early but we watched some cool movies such as Kung Fu Panda and Kill Bill, which were both great movies and made the bus ride that much quicker. We had our concert tonight at Temple Emanu-El, which was absolutely gorgeous and was an amazing place to sing. Two alumni soloists including Bob McGrath who has spent over 30 years on Sesame Street joined us. He gave us a message from Oscar the grouch who told us to “ Have a rotten day.” This made us smile and his solos were excellent. After the concert we decided to go out on the town because it had stopped raining. I went out with a few clubbers to around the area of NYU. We took a cab and had an interesting experience. They really drive aggressively, but I am kind of used to it being from the northeast. We had fun down by NYU but decided to go hang out in Times Square at 2 AM. This was a lot of fun because even though it was 2 in the morning, Times Square was still booming and very busy. We came back to the hotel to get some sleep for our free day in the city tomorrow.

Friday, May 8, 2009

One Big Apple a Day...

On Thursday May 7th, the Glee Club performed at Temple Emanu-El in New York City.  With its imposing stone facade and immense sanctuary, we were thrilled to have the honor of performing in such a magnificent venue.  In addition to a great venue, Josh Breitzer, the cantoral intern at Temple Emanu-El participated in our performance of Psalm 114.  He sang the Hebrew verses followed by our repeating them in Latin.  It was a great pleasure to hear Josh singing the Hebrew.   He has a beautiful voice and captured wonderfully the meaning of the verses in his expression.  Josh's guest performance was a great highlight of the concert and we are proud that he is an alum of the Men's Glee Club.

Following intermission, we performed our set entitled, "Love and Water."   We sang Loch Lomond as a part of this group of songs.  The solo is usually performed by a member of the Glee Club, but for this concert, Bob McGrath of Sesame Street acclaim agreed to show off his talent.  Also an alum of the Men's Glee Club, Bob wowed us with his voice.  During rehearsal he captivated our attention and seemed to proclaim the true meaning of the song through his unique expression.  He told a story with his singing.  I grew up watching him on Sesame Street.  When he sang I reverted back to my childhood-self.  He sang with that familiar smile and had a sparkle in his eye that invited you to listen closely while he told his story.  I couldn't be happier to be able to call him one of my brothers in song.  

We ended our performance with a rousing chorus of Varsity/Victors as per usual and closed the night with the Yellow and Blue.  What a sight to see more than 20 former clubbers join us on stage.  If we didn't fill the temple with sound before that, we certainly did with that influx of dudes.

The concert in the Big Apple was a big success and an experience I won't dare forget.

Scott Venman

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 2: Bethesda/Washington DC

WOW! What a great first concert. Well, we got back from our first concert of the tour at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, MD. The concert went really well and we sang nearly all of our repertoire tonight. As I write this blog it is thunderstorming outside, but at least the weather held up for a good portion of the day. 

We began our day bright and early (7:10 am ) when we arrived to catch the bus. We then proceeded to downtown Bethesda where a big group of people boarded the metro and headed down to Washington DC. A bunch of us visited the Capitol Building and took pictures and then headed back to Bethesda to Holton Arms School. This is an all-girls school and we were treated like rock stars.  After singing for the women at Holton Arms school and singing Oba Se Je with them, we had lunch with them and got to know how much academics are pushed at the school. Sing Praises to The King randomly broke out in the lunchroom and we were then compared to high school musical. We then drove down to the National Mall where some people went to take pictures and myself and small group of dudes went to visit the National Air and Space Museum. Our concert was next on the docket and we ended up having a long, but great concert and a GREAT audience. Before Carmina Juventutis, Doc referred to the piece as the three pillars of a college student's life. and referred the word wine with "the King of all beverages............the queen?........ (awkwardly) Duke?" It has been a great time here with Miles' and my host the Rosens and their son Alex who goes to Walt Whitman HS. We loved the first stop on tour and cannot wait to get to New York City...... "Start Spreading the News.... I'm leaving today" to go to NEW YORK!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beth Says Duh!

According to our tour book, Bethesda isn't actually a city because it has no border.  Whether or not this is true or if it is just a Wikipedia falcity, I can say that Bethesda is certainly a great place to be. (insert Michigan Men verse)

I had a great time today.  We had a few hours of free time before the Holton-Arms performance.  A group of clubbers and I decided to jump on the metro. Why not?   I have always enjoyed metros in large cities.  It seems to be a subculture eminating below streetlevel.  It certainly speaks to the character of the people in the city.  I've never been on a metro car where people take turns exiting and entering.  What manners!  We ventured to Dupont circle and took a couple pictures around the fountain, grabbed a coffee and croissant, and explored the area for a bit.  There are some very interesting buildings.  The row houses were well kept and colorful.  It's fun to see old buildings, that is, old in the American sense.

A couple other clubbers have shared our experiences both at Holton-Arms and Walt Whitman.  I too was impressed by the song the HA girls sang for us.  Talking to a few of them at lunch, it is amazing the academic fortitude they have at such a young age.  Ms. Pagenstecher has built an amazing program there and should be highly commended for her abilities.  Her choir had great stage presence and unbelievable diction.

At Walt Whitman, we performed for a great audience.  Plenty of wolverines and quite a few club alums filled the crowd and we thouroughly enjoyed ourselves onstage.  I only hope we could have been able to hear the Walt Whitman choirs sing a couple pieces.  I've heard that Mr. Davidson has built a great program and judging by the awards that filled the choir room, it is a well founded compliment.

I have greatly appreciated my host stay in Bethesda.  They have spoiled us with excellent food and certainly a dash of hospitality.  It's not often when you can feel completely welcomed and comfortable in someone else's home after a 10 minute car ride back to their house.

Tomorrow we head to the Big Apple.  I'm looking forward to another great concert tomorrow night in a truly fantastic venue.

In Tradition, Camraderie, and Musical Excellence,
Scott Venman

Walt Whitman

Here we performed a monster set with most of our strongest and most complicated selections, and we were rewarded with the highest praise a crowd can give, that of a standing ovation.  I am very proud to say that whenever I've donned the tails with UMMGC, our artistry has always moved the audience to its feet.  The whole club was pleased about its musical showing to the Walt Whitman crowd.  One woman told us our harmonies moved her to tears!  How can a group better connect with an audience than when it touches their emotions?  That's what it's all about!

Okay, enough for me today.  Time to sleep...  NYC is a big city, and I need to be ready for it.  I would like to say I hope its ready for us, but who am I kidding, its NYC, this will be a big one.

This must be how the Beatles felt! except with a lot fewer girls cheering...!

Today I beat even the early bird to the worm, waking up at 6:00 AM to devour several pancakes and strawberries before going to Walt Whitman to meet our bus to hang out in Bethesda before the Holton Arms School performance.  Making the most of our 2 hours, myself and several others made it to the Capitol and took some pictures... before we realized it was time to turn around for the gig!

Holton Arms School is an interesting place.  It is an all-girl school that teaches 3rd through 12th graders.  After passing the school's gate, UMMGC was directed into a building filled with student art and accolades.  We were introduced to the formidable Mrs. Pagenstacher, the school's choir director.  She told us about the history of the school as well as its high standards academically, athletically, and artistically.  She also greatly praised Dr. Rardin, who, while in Maryland, was a close professional colleague of Mrs. P.  I was glad that Glee Club could represent itself as well as Dr. Rardin well, especially when dealing with an old professional colleague.

The performance itself was an abbreviated UMMGC set.  We were working on a HS schedule after all.  After a short and well received set, we were treated with a selection from the Holton Arms group, which I might add was one of the best selections I have heard done by an all female choir, and these were high schoolers and younger to boot!  Although the Friars did not receive the deafening scream we all anticipated, when  we joined the Holton Arms ladies to sing Oba Se Je, at least I felt like a rock star.  I jumped up to the top riser and greeted the young lady on the end who timidly replied.  After the selection, I thanked the student for listening to us, sharing her music, and singing with us.  She graciously thanked me for coming as well.

Mrs. Pagenstacher summed up her ladies mood when she asked if there were questions aside from "Are they available?"  I can't help but smile.  Its like we were some kind of rock stars.

At lunch, UMMGC mingled with its hosts, meeting several young women who seemed to this clubber to be highly motivated students that undoubtably contributed to their powerhouse school's achievements.

The final event of note at Holton Arms was one of my favorite parts of Glee Club.  Spontaneous song.  Like a cloud forming in the sky, with some seed clubbers, the rest of the club condensed around the center of the cafeteria, breaking out in song and hailing King Jesus.  Here camaraderie really shines as we all come together sharing our love of song without a prompt or cue from a director.  When the girls left, I heard one saying how cool that was, and how it was like High School Musical.  She also claimed credit for inspiring our spontaneous glee.  Now not only were we rock stars, we also were like Disney movie stars as well...

On that note, we left Holton Arms, had a few minutes to ourselves, and then we headed to Walt Whitman.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I can't tarry

After leaving at the very colligate-friendly 6:30 am, UMMGC started its glorious tour, truly beginning in a mix of half excitement and half sleep.  With minimal stops at such culinary luminaries as A&W root beer and Hardee's, UMMGC trudged dutifully eastward to Bethesda.

Around 5 pm, we arrived at a very damp Walt Whitman High School.  Matt Kodis and I were then kindly escorted to the home of the Dane family.  Their daugher, Rachel, was a singer in WWH's chorus, and they were kind enough to take us in.  Mrs. Shelly Dane took good care of us, making up lasagna.  Micheal Dane commented that we should stop by more often, so his wife would cook like that more often!

After that, the bus drive caught up with me.  Probably one of the few slow nights of tour...

Day 1: Bethesda MD

Hey all from Bethesda MD! It is not that late but I am exhausted after a long day of travel. It began early this morning around 5:30 when I woke up and got to the MLB (Modern Language Building) around 6:10 AM. We left around 6:40 am and it was a sleepy first part of the journey. The first word of the day was "First" but we had a different bus driver to take us safely into the state of Ohio. I had a long discussion with Phil Viges how Ohio isn't part of the US because they are the only state which does not have a rectangular flag. ( It could have been sleepless rambling, but who knows). We watched two movies on the bus "Tropic Thunder" and "Airplane!". Both were great movies (when I was not sleeping). We arrived in Bethesda at Walt Whitman High School around 5:20 or so and met our host families. I am staying with Miles Kaufmann and it is a lot of fun so far. Our hosts are wonderful and their son is in the choir at Walt Whitman High. The father, Dave is a huge Boston Red Sox fan as a result of growing up in the Boston area.... Big kudos from me. Anyway, we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow including 2 concerts (a short performance and a concert in the evening) as well as time at the National Mall in Washington DC... Really looking forward to that... for now, so long.

(Erik Bagaglia)

Welcome to the UMMGC East Coast Tour 2009 Blog

Alums, Family, and Friends,

Today, the UMMGC will embark on the 2009 East Coast Tour. This tour will be in celebration of the 149th year of Club. Furthermore, it will serve as a kickoff to our monumental 150th year. With this momentous landmark quickly approaching, the UMMGC seeks to find new and innovative ways to keep our alums and friends abreast of the experiences and happenings of current clubbers. During the tour, the UMMGC will introduce a new feature on the UMMGC website,, of an interactive blog which will chronicle various clubbers’ tour experience.

Eight clubbers have volunteered to blog about the performances, free time, and mayhem that ensue over the duration of their 2009 tour experience. These clubbers will post often and will recount their time spent at each tour stop. I invite you to follow the bus as we sweep our way up and down the East Coast.

In Tradition, Camaraderie, and Musical Excellence,

Scott Bradley Venman, 2009 East Coast Tour Manager
Matthew Griffith, 2009 East Coast Tour Publicity Co-Captain

Further Tour Information

Perminent Blog Link