Saturday, June 1, 2013

That's All Folks! Tour Dinner, The Last Night of Tour, and Our Journey Home

What an eventful evening following our trip to Alcatraz Island! It began outside our hostel, when we were approached by two men, Opera and Rick, who sang a great selection of songs to us before we shared a few songs with them in return! The exchange only lasted a few minutes, but it was quite a nice change of pace from being the only group that randomly breaks into song on the street!

Then there was the tour dinner itself at Buca di Beppo. This down-market chain of Italian-American diners features over-the-top Italianate d├ęcor and vintage photographs throughout the entire restaurant.
We couldn't have asked for a better set up, either. We had an entire room in the basement to ourselves, with two long tables holding all of us. Also, the food was served family style and it was delicious! We started with two different salads, the apple gorgonzola and the caesar, followed by penne san remo and both chicken and eggplant parmigiana. We concluded our meal with an abundance of decadent double dark chocolate cake. Needless to say, we were stuffed and satisfied!

Little did they know how much would be consumed after we took our seats!
Following dinner we had some free time before gathering again for our last-night-of-tour festivities. Initially we had intended to carry out the celebrations in the hostel, but they weren't exactly receptive to the idea of opening a room for 44 college students. Suffice it to say that we spent the next couple of hours looking for another location before resigning ourselves to a public space outside of a BART (Bay Area Regional Transit) station 2 blocks away. It may not have been the most furnished space and we may have used trash bags as cushions on the damp ground, but it was a great evening and now makes for a great story of coming together in such a space to celebrate one another and the group that brought us together.

The following morning everyone began the journey toward the rest of their summers. We said goodbye to one another, said goodbye to alums Craig Pottruck and Rob Croll, and prepared ourselves for our trips, wherever they would take us.

In classic Glee Club fashion, we obstruct all movement in the airport
Look at the view from the plane on the flight to Philadelphia!
Now The Oddly Pacific Tour has come to a close, we've said goodbye to our beloved graduates, and we're off onto many different summer adventures. There's just one thing left to do before this blog ends, and that's a song in honor of the performance, tradition, and especially the brotherhood embodied in the Penn Glee Club experience:
Here's to you, Penn Glee Club.
Here's to you my jovial friends.
And we'll drink before we part
for sake of company.
We'll drink before we part.
Here's to you, 
my best friends.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Days 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14: The Last Week and Last Day of the Best Western Tour!

Wednesday May 15:
Our last full day in Ashland was perhaps our most exciting! We were busy from 8 in the morning until at least 9 at night experiencing everything the city and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has to offer.
At 8am we prepared for our early morning tour of the grounds of the OSF. Our alum Eduardo Placer, who is an 
actor at the festival in both My Fair Lady and in The Heart of Robin Hood. He took us around the Bowmer 
Theatre, the Green Stage, the Elizabethan Theatre, and the Thomas Theatre, along with the backstage area. 
Everyone loved to be behind the scenes of the magic of theater in a Tony-award winning place. You would 
not believe the kinds of costumes and sets they create for themselves there! We were all astounded by 
their authenticity. And everything they do is on such a tight schedule as well! If you spend a week in Ashland, 
you could see all 10 shows they perform, and you would see many actors playing multiple parts flawlessly.
After our tour, we spent an hour with 3 of the 4 writers of The Unfortunates and we all shared our music 
and jammed together.None of us will soon forget that experience. Also that day, we saw My Fair Lady, an
engaging, hilarious, and touching show, and we saw many of the same actors from The Unfortunates 
perform in MFL as well! 
My Fair Lady at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was incredible! And these actors are all in 3 other shows simultaneously!
As soon as My Fair Lady was over, we quickly moved outside for a concert out on the Green Stage. Unfortunately, even our singing of "Blue Skies" and "I Can See Clearly Now" could not keep the clouds and the rain away, so we had to move to an indoor stage. Nevertheless, our audience stayed with us and was incredibly receptive and appreciative of our performance.
We had a wonderful dinner with our OSF-actor/alumnus, Eduardo Placer, at this restaurant!
Shortly thereafter, we went to the restaurant at the Standing Stone Brewery to spend some more quality time with Eduardo. Little did we know that we would end up performing several different times in that hour! It started when we sang happy birthday to a woman dining there. Then, before we ate, we sang our grace. An alumnus of Penn recognized us and the red and the blue we wear and asked that we sing Drink A Highball, which we happily did. Then, we concluded our time with a toast to the manager. If you're ever in Portland, we strongly recommend checking this place out!
That night, Clubbers split up and did separate things. Immediately following our dinner, Eduardo took some Clubbers to see King Lear, which was amazing, while the rest went back to our hotel a few miles away. After the party from King Lear returned, many of us took to the 24 hour pool to enjoy our last stay in the hotel, while others went out to see Eduardo again in town after he finished his tech rehearsal for The Heart of Robin Hood, which he graciously allowed some of us to watch. All in all, we now have come to love the city of Ashland, and were sad to be saying goodbye to it. We still had one performance the following day, though!
Not all of us saw this OSF production, but those who did were touched by the incredible performance
Thursday May 16:
Our last experience in Ashland was at the Ashland High School, where we were received much like The Beatles! We only performed very briefly thanks to Eduardo's connections there and the generosity of the principal, but you should have seen the cheers! During our final number, our Boy Band Medley, the upperclassmen all stepped down from the risers and took off their blazers to dance the choreo for the last song of the medley, It's Gonna Be Glee, and the crowd went wild. It was the perfect end to a wonderful stay.
Then we were off to Walmart to buy supplies for our night of camping in the Redwoods. Word of warning: never 
unleash a crowd of 40+ guys into a grocery store with money in hand- we could have fed an army with 
everything we bought.
Our 24 hours in the Redwoods was amazing. We arrived without dilemma and set up our tents rather efficiently (for a group of singers, at least!). While some Clubbers stayed at camp, most went out on a 3 mile hike which led to a beach across from our campsite. There, we ran into two older women who permitted us to use their kayak to ferry people across the river to camp. While waiting to be carried across, everyone took in the natural beauty of the park. And, of course, we allowed ourselves to be a little childish. Some people swam across the freezing river (one in his birthday suit!) while others stayed on shore and invented a game called Rock That Rock (you'll have to ask us about that one!).
Then, when we had made our way back to camp, we made a glorious fire and had a great night of food and song! We were in for a cold night, but it was all worth it.
You have not seen trees until you have been to the Redwood Forest! These put Philadelphia trees to shame!
We may look like campers in this picture, but the tent making process was quite the process...
Friday May 17
Little did we know when we woke up that we would be going straight from the campsite to a performance! We woke up at 8am, boarded the bus, and went straight to our first performance in San Francisco at the Wharton | West building just off the bay. It was a classic tour moment when we took all our luggage to the 6th floor of the building, just outside the room where we were to perform, and changed from our dirty and smelly camp clothes into khaki blaze, creating the illusion that we had been there ready to perform for hours. They truly appreciated the songs of Penn that we shared with them, and they reciprocated by allowing us free ice cream! All of us were delighted.
What better welcome to San Francisco than to perform for our home away from home, Wharton | SF
Then, we were off to where we would stay for the next few days. Most people stayed at a hostel in town, though some people stayed with alumnus Robert Croll (PGC President 2011-2012) and at the homes of current Clubbers Cam Cogan and Jackson Foster. It did not matter where we went, though- we were all just happy to shower.
After cleaning up from our night of camping and morning performance, we finally got to appreciate the beauty of the city
Although it is not everyone's cup of tea, some Clubbers chose to watch this ridiculous movie during one night of our stay
Saturday May 18
We started our first full day thinking that we would go to Mt Diablo for a very nice hike and a great view. Then we soon realized that the winding roads up the mountain were not bus-friendly... The result was a relaxing few hours exploring Berkeley and enjoying the beautiful campus and great shops there. Then we were off to see another one of our alums, Craig Pottruck, at a pool party and bbq he was hosting for us all. Some Clubbers were wondering how we could spend a full day in someone's backyard, but there was never a lack of things to do or people to talk to. Everyone had a great time and loved having a day to relax and have fun with one another.
Sunday May 19
Perhaps our favorite performance of the tour was singing the national anthem in front of tens of thousands for the SF Giants
The next day saw perhaps our favorite performance of the tour, when we sang the national anthem for the San Francisco Giants. All of our male members joined us in khaki blaze out on the field for the performance, in addition to both Rob Croll and Craig Pottruck, and we were happy to have shared the experience. One Penn alum in the audience sums it up better than any of us could:

 Every now and then, a pleasant surprise changes an entire day. One such
surprise was yesterday at AT&T Park when you honored our Nation with a most
stunning and moving rendition of our National Anthem. Hearing the stadium
announcement that the Penn Men's Glee Club was about to sing was a surprise
. we don't hear at lot in San Francisco about much other than Cal or
Stanford. Seeing you  crisply dressed with dazzling red and blue neckties
was impressive. Hearing your magnificent delivery of our proud anthem was
utterly  indescribable. Not an easy anthem to sing in any event, your
straight-forward rendition, without any of the nonsense added by lesser
vocal groups, was something I, and many others who heard it that day, will
not soon forget. Many about me were clearly gripped with emotion. Tears were
shed. Pride was palpable. Thank you for so admirably honoring our Nation.
And thank you for reinforcing this alum's intense pride in being part of the
Penn Community. Bravo!


 Michael Metcalf

Towne School of Civil & Mechanical Engineering, 1964
Check us out in front of the huge crowd! We didn't even make it through the song before they started cheering!
Following that incredible time at AT&T Park, Clubbers broke off into groups and saw many sights of San Francisco, from the beautiful and winding Lombard Street, to the gorgeous waterfront, to the famous shops and restaurants (and delightful treats and chocolate!) at Ghiradelli Square, to Washington Square park in North Beach, the many stores surrounding Union Square, the many piers (including the wonderfully touristy Pier 39) and the Exploratorium science museum. It would take days to describe all the great times that have been had throughout the city.
That night, we went out to dinner with the family and friends of one of our tenors, Jackson Foster, at Chevy's Fresh Mex. Never can you see Club more happy than when we share stories and songs over an all-you-can-eat buffet!
Monday May 20
Our last full day of tour came with both sadness and excitement- we'll soon be saying goodbye to our seniors, but we'll also be sending them off to bigger and better things and simultaneously going off on our own adventures for the summer. Our first adventure for the day was a trip to Alcatraz, where we learned all about the islands history and its importance in American history. More than that, we also loved the sights we could see and the skyline, even if a lot was obscured by clouds. San Francisco truly is a beautiful city, which we could clearly see from the island turned prison turned landmark just a mile offshore.
Although it was cloudy, our visit to Alcatraz started off the last day of our tour spectacularly!
Now all that remains for us is our tour dinner at Boca di Beppo here in town. We'll be sure to let you know how wonderful that meal is and how the late night celebrations for our seniors go following our return home. For now, know that this tour could not have been better. There were unavoidable logistical issues as always, and the occasional drama, but the brotherhood is stronger than ever.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Days 6, 7, and 8: The Penn Glee Club Discovers First Hand the Peculiarities of Portland and Sees the World Premier of a Play

Sunday, May 19, 2013
We began our first day in Portland, OR bright and early with a performance requested by Glee Alum Matt Scherer (C'06) to surprise his fiancee's parents in a park by the river. We had a great time singing for the Morganroth family and connecting with one of our alumni!

We performed for the parents of the fiance of Matt Scherer, a Glee Club alum
Directly after, we walked over to the Terwiliger Plaza Retirement Community and sang for the residents before their afternoon movie. One of the residents was a former member of the John Hopkins University Glee Club and we enjoyed hearing a few of his memories from his travels with his college Glee Club.

We perform for the Terwiliger Plaza Retirement Community in Portland

The Penn Pipers sing Let's Get Away From It All at the very same gig in Portland
After the performance in Terwiliger Plaza Retirement Community, the Club spent the day exploring the city of Portland. Many Clubbers visited Powell's Books, the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. We also took advantage of the day to sample some of Portland's unique foods from the wide variety of gourmet food trucks, a specialty ice cream parlor called Salt and Straw, and, of course, the famous Portland Voodoo Doughnuts. We had a fantastic day exploring the city's unique neighborhoods, parks, and stores.

Many of us spent hours at the largest independent new and used bookstore in the US.
If you're in Portland, go to this independent doughnut shop! These specialty doughnuts are out of this world!
Monday, May 20, 2013

Our final day in Portland began with an opportunity for the Club to venture over to the renowned Portland Japanese Gardens. While a bit of a walk from our hotel, the beautiful flowers and scenery were well worth the trip. Some Clubbers also saw the rest of the city with an early morning bike tour, experiencing some of the more scenic parts of Portland. In the afternoon, we headed over to the University Club of Portland. There, we performed for members of the Portland Penn Club and had the chance to meet incoming freshmen from the area. Singing for the Penn Club and meeting the incredibly hospitable Penn alumni was a great way to celebrate our last day in the wonderful city of Portland, OR.

We sing for the Penn Club of Portland, both for Alumni and for accepted students of the class of 2017!
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We left Portland bright and early, preparing ourselves for the seven hour bus ride to Ashland. However, we first decided to stop at Crater Lake, a beautiful lake on the top of a mountain. We went there for its famed deep blue color and water clarity, however we only saw ice and snow. We tried to venture out to take photos, but no one made it too far from the bus. However, we got some great pictures in the blizzard, such as this: 

Dan Torrington (L), C'13, and Zach Costa (R), C'14 pose shirtless during a blizzard at Crater Lake
Now, we've made our way to Ashland, Oregon, and we're loving it. Before seeing The Unfortunates, we were fortunate enough to have a session with a teaching artist of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival who told us about the inspiration, creation, and production of the show. We enjoyed the opportunity to see this great piece of theater and were amazed by the great performances, music, and technical aspects of the production. Our evening was capped off with a dinner to celebrate the birthday of our illustrious director, Dr. C. Erik Nordgren, rounding out a great start to our stay in Ashland, OR.

The female lead, Rae, stands in front of the action of Big Joe's dream during the world premier of The Unfortunates

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 4 and 5: Mount Rainier and Our Trip to Portland!

What do you do when you have an entire free day in Seattle, WA?Visit Mount Rainier of course! While about half of us went to Bainbridge Island or went wine tasting or visited Microsoft or saw Vancouver, Canada, 21 of us spent the entire day at Mount Rainier.

There were incredible views and an abundance of snow- it was great. Ever body surfed down the side of a mountain? That was one of the many adventures we had as we traversed mud, snow, and ice for 8 hours yesterday.

Oh and we sang in the visitors lodge and on the trails, because we do sing from time to time.
All in all it was a fantastic day for everyone, and we all miss Seattle a lot now that we've begun the rest of our tour. Today, we left Seattle, WA for Portland, OR. It was raining when we took our Bolt Buses here, so we couldn't appreciate the beauty of the city, but we're sure to have a great time. Many of us went out this evening already to celebrate Forrest Milburn's 19th birthday at a fantastic Japanese restaurant down by the water.
Tomorrow, we'll have our 2nd and 3rd gigs of the tour, the first for Matt Sherer and the second for a retirement community here in Portland. We're very excited to be performing officially again, although we could be heard throughout Seattle singing as we walked from place to place. After that, some of us are going to enjoy some of Portland's many food trucks - which rival those in Philly! - and experience some real Guamanian food in honor of our guitarist and all-around-awesome member Rigel Swavely, who is from Guam.
With all that to look forward to we need to get our rest, so that's all for today, but check out the pictures from Mount Rainier below!
All the best to our friends at home,
The Penn Glee Club
Of course we sang at the lodge partway up the mountain!

The moment when we realized how much more of the mountain was left...

The start of the day, when people still had energy

The whole group of us together before our adventure began!

The day wouldn't have been complete without a failed shirtless pyramid

Our musical performances aren't the only things that are strong!

Why would you take a picture shirtless in the middle of a snow-covered trail? Our response: why not?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Days 2 and 3: No Wonder It's Called the Emerald City!

Of all the places we could have gone, we don't we could have chosen a better city to visit. The experiences we have had here are phenomenal and we'll be very sad to leave on Saturday morning. And the Penn Club of Seattle gave us a great welcome last night. Check out the picture below!

We have had a lot of free time to explore, so we all went our separate ways to enjoy our time here. We went to a lot of amazing places:

The Experience Music Project Museum, an inredible museum dedicated to all of the things that constitute and contribute to the progress of pop culture. Seriously, where else can you go to see an exhibits on the Fantasy genre, Jimi Hendrix, Horror movies, Nirvana, and Science Fiction, in addition to enjoying an entire interactive sound studio? There's no doubt that this is a must see of Seattle. And you can play ultimate frisbee as soon as the museum closes! What more could you ask for?

The Seattle Underground, which is a network of underground passageways and basements in downtown Seattle that exists because of a high water table and a great fire in the 1880s. There is literally an entire system of walkways underneath the streets! Apparently after the fire the city built up the streets themselves an extra 15ft high while the business owners reopened at the original height. How strange is that? It took them years to realize that was a bad idea and raise the sidewalk...

Bainbridge Island, just a ferry ride away! Although it might not be on the mainland of Seattle, this is definitely an amazing place. The ferry ride itself is great and the island is even better- great shops, great views, and great kayaking on the Sound! We can't tell you how happy we were to get away from it all and just relax with some fantastic blueberry ice cream.

Gas Works Park, one of the more interesting parks we've seen, is on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company. That may sound a little strange, but when you see it you'll appreciate how great it is. While some of us were at the EMP, others went to this park and enjoyed the beautiful weather here. There is no doubt in our minds that if Philly weather was like this, everyone would be happier.. que sera, sera..

This is by no means an extensive list- if we were to recount everything that happened, we would have to write a novel. We also visited the sports stadiums, a dry soda store, the original REI, a very serious pizza place, the great pike place market, the original Starbucks, the aquarium, Chinatown, and, in addition to the many other places, the Seattle Space Needle. We went all together and had an amazing time- check out the picture below! It was constructed for the World's Fair in 1962 and it is just as impressive today- check out that view!

That's all for today- we've got to rest up for all of tomorrow's adventures!

Cheers to all of you!

The Penn Glee Club

We performed for the Penn Club of Seattle! What a welcome to this great city!
We couldn't visit Seattle without seeing the Space Needle, and the weather could not have been any better!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 1: We Made It!

After over 10 hours of travel, we arrived at our hotel in Seattle. We're right next to the Seattle Space Needle, which we're so excited to see in two days!! In the few hours since we've been here, already a lot has happened:
Some of us went and saw a mariachi band at a wonderful Mexican restaurant, another group walked to Chinatown, others had some first class pizza. In short, it has become very clear that the Penn Glee Club and all of its members love Seattle and morale is very high :)
All of us are looking forward to our first true performance tomorrow for the Penn Club of Seattle, although anyone on the streets will be sure to hear us singing in our spare time as well. In fact, a small group of us made some friends at Seattle Pacific University while singing down on the corner.
It's only 11pm here, but it's 2am at home and many Clubbers have called it a night, though some are still out and about exploring this amazing city. Now we'll rest up for another day of exploring before our performance.
We hope everyone is doing well in Philly and wherever else our friends may have found themselves. With any luck, maybe you'll have as much fun as we're having here!
Until tomorrow,
The Penn Glee Club

Day 1: We're Off on the Road to Seattle!

Hello everyone!
We've just landed in Chicago and now all that stands between us and our Summer tour, named The Oddly Pacific Tour, of the American Northwest is a two hour layover and a short flight!
You can check this blog for day-to-day updates on what we've been up to. We'll be sharing our stories here to keep you all informed! I think our first performance will be an impromptu rendition of Chicago - what better thing to sing while in the Windy City?
Check back later tonight when we'll have gone 2 hours back in time! We will have started the first true leg of our tour in Seattle- we can't wait to sing for the Penn Club of Seattle and we'll be sure to update you on all of the adventures we're sure to have :)
All the best to our friends at home,
The Penn Glee Club