Arts & Culture

Voices raised in glee

2 min read

Three choral clubs mesh, this time virtually, to celebrate diversity, fellowship

For almost a century, the Harvard Glee Club has held concerts with its counterparts at Yale and Princeton. Despite the disruption this fall brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the three clubs were committed to maintaining their long tradition.

To that end, the groups on Oct. 17 presented “Hand in Hand: A Benefit Concert for Equity and Justice in Arts Education,” celebrating their enduring relationships, their love of music, and their commitment to social justice. “Hand in Hand” featured performances from each club as well as a group performance of the R&B song “Caravan of Love” by the Isley Brothers, arranged by Brandon Waddles, a musician and lecturer on choral conducting and music education at Wayne State University, and introduced by Cornel West, professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard.

Founded in 1858, the Harvard Glee Club is one of the nation’s oldest collegiate choruses. In recent years, the club has focused attention on the intersection of art and justice, including a 2019 celebration of work by W.E.B. Du Bois, who as a Harvard student was rejected by the group in the late 1800s.

Harvard club music director and conductor Andrew Clark, who is also director of choral activities and senior lecturer on music, said, “For centuries, our ensembles have provided an outlet for our students to claim their identity as artists, refine their skills, build meaningful relationships, and cultivate performance experiences to enrich the lives of others. The ‘Hand in Hand’ concert gave us an opportunity to continue to invest in this work and to re-imagine the choral experience not only in virtual context, but also as a vehicle for reflection and community impact during these turbulent times.”

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, the clubs donated proceeds from the concert to local nonprofit organizations: Castle of our Skins in Boston, Music Haven in New Haven, Conn., and Trenton Head Start in Trenton, N.J.