International Tour ‘23: Musical Motifs

Glee Club Featured, Travel

Bonjour! My name is Graham Wolfe and I’m a rookie in the Notre Dame Glee Club. I write this blog post just a few days removed from our three week tour of Europe, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say the Paris → South Bend whiplash is sufficiently daunting. After embracing a routine of singing and exploring a new impressive, historic European city every day alongside a family of talented vocalists, simply being back on campus or back at home is a surreal experience; however, in my eyes it isn’t just the place that makes this such a shocking transition, but rather the people. Even after going on my first Glee Club tour this past spring, I still hadn’t grasped just how intimate the group truly was. We grew closer as a club during these three weeks than I could have ever imagined.

To say that this tour started without a bang would be the grossest understatement in Glee Club history. Rome was far and away my favorite stop of tour, for a whole host of reasons, and I think I’m in good company when I say that there was no topping it. Moving up the Italian peninsula over the course of the first week of tour was my favorite leg of our journey, for the cities and excursions were breathtaking, the free time was filled with thrilling sights, and, most importantly, I genuinely had fun singing in the concerts (this was true of the whole tour). Perhaps it was the relaxed but focused ‘working’ environment we found ourselves in, or maybe the luxury of a killer setlist, but I found that nearly every concert was lively and energized—each one more than the last. Moving into Germany (after a brief stop in Austria) was traumatic for those of us who weren’t ready to swap saying “grazie” for “danke” or “ciao” for “hallo.” The German-speaking stop of Zurich, Switzerland contained our only homestay of the tour, a pleasant two-night break from the pattern of hotels. France served as a nice capstone to the lineup, and despite us not having a concert there, Paris certainly stood out as a rival to Rome as my favorite stop of tour.

While on the lengthy nine-hour flight back from Paris to Chicago, with nothing but a meal of chicken and potatoes and a defective entertainment system to keep me busy, I found three-week-old memories of Rome already starting to slip. Alarmed by this, I tried to determine what it was that I’d remember most about tour—the thing I’d remember in ten years as the one thing that made me really buy-in to Glee Club. With this question I sought one consistent factor that drew us in, brought us closer, and kept us going day after day. Was it the staggering sights we encountered daily? Was it the bus rides? I genuinely believe that this crucial component is music. We grew as brothers not just from city to city, from night out to night out, or group dinner to group dinner, but rather from concert to concert—from one “Ave Maria” to the next, or perhaps from one overdone “Prayer” to the next. This music and our shared experience of singing it framed this tour more than anything else, and looking back that’s what I’ll remember most. As publicity director, my phone is filled with videos and audio files of every one of our outbursts of song, planned or spontaneous, and I’m so lucky to have the capacity to look back on these snapshots and see, hear and feel the musical motifs of this tour transcending the limitations of memory.

Glee ClubInternational Tour ‘23: Musical Motifs