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Glee Club tours California over break

| Thursday, January 17, 2019

Members of the Glee Club spent their Christmas break performing on their first-ever winter tour. Each year, the club typically spends a week performing on the road over fall and spring break. This year, in lieu of its spring tour, it spent 10 days visiting various cities in California.

Senior Adam Kuczynski, the club’s tour manager, said the decision to tour over winter break instead of spring break allowed for a different kind of tour.   

“We decided to do it over winter because … we wanted a little bit of extra time in California without the pressures of semester projects and homework and studying,” he said. “It was super laid back and everyone was much less stressed, which was nice.” 

Devon Ngo

Members of the Glee Club celebrate their inaugural winter tour in California following a performance. The group held nine concerts in a span of 10 days.

As this year’s tour manager, Kuczynski helped Glee Club director Daniel Stowe plan the trip, including scheduling the concerts, finding places for everyone to stay and organizing activities during the day. When they weren’t performing, group members toured San Francisco, played beach volleyball in San Clemente and skied in Lake Tahoe.

Senior Glee Club president Brian Raab said he agreed that a longer tour in between semesters made it a uniquely enjoyable tour.  

“So often tour can feel like work because we usually have a concert one day in one location and the next day is a concert in a completely different location. It’s just bam-bam-bam. This time, we had a beach day at one point where we played volleyball for four hours. I went skiing in Lake Tahoe and that was one of the best days of my life,” Raab said. “The Glee Club, they’re my best friends at Notre Dame. Because we’re always touring over breaks, we don’t have a chance to take a vacation together somewhere, so it was cool we got to bring the vacation with us.”

That sense of community, Raab said, was built over four years of touring with the Glee Club.

Tours are the most important part of the club, in large part because of the community that it builds, Kucynski said.

“When you go on tour, you’re spending literally every minute of your day with 40 other guys,” Kuczynski said. “So you just form this bond … because you’re working with these guys, essentially, but you’re also spending all your meals and all your free time with them as well, so it’s like this really close bond that you form with the guys and it helps to solidify the music, too.” 

John Jakubowski, a sophomore member of the Glee Club, said he agrees that tours allow for more social and musical connection within the club than everyday rehearsals.

“Rehearsals are great,” he said. “But tour is when you spend a lot of meaningful time with these people. It’s kind of like a cornerstone of the club musically, but also socially. You’re spending a lot of time with these people, but you’re also spending a lot of time with the music. You get to know both the people and the music very well.”

This tour in particular, because of it occurring over winter break, enabled the group to work on its technique and performance.  

“We got to do the same music we’ve done in the fall, so rather than trying to memorize stuff, we already have it memorized, so it’s more working on musicality and stuff like that,” Raab said. “Getting more chance of consistent work and performance in front of a crowd really helps.”

Over the course of 10 days, the club performed nine concerts. While the concerts meant there was plenty of work to do, the number and low-stress environment enabled the group to improve its performing ability, Jakubowski said.

“Generally, you’re singing for people you don’t know quite as well,” he said. “Tour is just a really great time to learn the material because, since you don’t really know the people, there’s a little less pressure to perform.”

Even though they’re not singing for their typical Notre Dame audience in South Bend, the club members are able bring their music to the greater Notre Dame community when touring. Often times, members of the club stayed with hosts from the Notre Dame clubs in the cities they visited.

“It’s a lot more interesting, I’d say, especially since in a lot of the locations we stay with home-stays, so a lot of times you actually end up meeting the people who are listening to you that night,” Kuczynski said. “So it’s cool to get to know people and see how they appreciate our music and what Notre Dame means to them specifically.”

In addition to hosting the members, the clubs often help market the event to their local communities. As a result, tour performances have audiences from both the Notre Dame community and the community in which they perform.

“When you go on tour, you can be performing for anyone, like someone who saw there was a choir performance. And then you have the people who came because it’s Notre Dame and they love Notre Dame,” Raab said. “It’s so cool to sing in front of that mix of people.”

The Glee Club will be touring again this summer in various countries in Europe, in addition to its usual on-campus concerts.

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