Woolsey Hall, with its ornate organ, gilded, coffered ceiling, commodious stage, and ample columnated audience space, remains imbedded in memory. I was as awed by the marble names in the rotunda, honoring the many Yale lives sacrificed in service to our country as I was horrified by the rows of shaky seats in the balconies, intimating disaster should the place be filled to capacity. Filled it was, when Horowitz chose Yale as his first venue at the end of a long artistic pause. And filled again for Janice Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Hardly disaster; more like triumph, be it old music or new in that grand old hall.
The Yale Glee Club performed at Woolsey several times a year, and it was a thrill each and every time. To sing, in white tie and tails no less where thousands before me had sung, to conduct the Alma Mater, complete with waving handkerchiefs, at the end of each concert (which was my purview as President of the YGC). I still get tingles down my spine as I recollect those moments.
– Jim Weber
I can still see the rickety wooden grand staircase in Hendrie Hall as I wound my way upstairs to the Glee Club rooms. The wooden vastness of the empty rehearsal room; the cramped quarters of the Glee Club office and Fenno Heath’s oversized private office. Photos everywhere along the walls, musty piles of music, and dog-eared copies of the Yale Songbook. The place was redolent of nineteenth-century tradition and, yes, with it a certain degree of decay.
Ah, but the resonance of those wooden floors and walls, the acoustically perfect square shape. There was a mystique to the place. The fabulous, floor-length vaulted windows added a cathedral-like dimension; it was an honor to have any reason to be there. And those of us who sang with the Freshman, the Apollo, or the venerable Glee Club spent countless happy hours perfecting the Football Medley and the many songs of Yale, readying ourselves for joint concerts with Harvard, Princeton, or Vassar. And what a thrill to perform with the newly created Yale Women’s Chorus in that final year of the Glee Club as a men’s chorus.
– Jim Weber