Hi! My name is Danny O’Brien, and I am a sophomore in Glee Club.
Although I’m a sophomore, this was my first tour—and what a tour it was. On Saturday, October 16 clubbers from across campus trekked to the bookstore and boarded the tour bus, helmed by the famed Randy.
We made our first stop at Shamrock Jack’s in Rochester and sang a quick ten-minute set to thank them for providing us dinner. Later that night, we sang a shortened set at St. Anne’s and met up with the Yellow Jackets, an a cappella group from the University of Rochester. After socializing for a bit, we sang a few songs together before the Undertones, our “group-within-a-group,” had a friendly sing-off with the Yellow Jackets, both groups sharing performances of their arrangements.
After staying in a hotel we journeyed to Garden City, on Long Island. There, we had our first full performance—tuxedoes and all—at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, where fellow sophomore Joe Zawacki and I made our first pitch and sold CDs and other Glee Club merchandise at intermission and after the show (which proved to be a very fun experience where we got to meet and talked with various alumni and fans). We departed for our first homestay and rose early in the morning to ship out to Staten Island, after a wonderful breakfast hosted by the DeMaro family.
We were privileged to receive a police escort from the Staten Island Police and had a very moving visit to their 9/11 memorial, where we sang Danny Boy in honor of those who lost their lives in the attacks and their loved ones. Following our performance that night at the Church of Our Lady of Pity, we were presented with hats from the Staten Island Police and Fire Department, as well as ceremonial coins from the district attorney in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the Glee Club’s performance there just weeks after 9/11. It was an incredible honor, and an experience I will not forget.
The next day we had free time in Manhatten. The group I was with had a busy time there—we visited wall street and the 9/11 memorial, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, got lunch at a deli near broadway, passed through Times Square, and wandered through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We met at the bus and headed to Westchester, where we sang at the Church of the Resurrection.
The next day we were dropped off at the National Mall, and after admiring the landmarks a few of us visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, an incredibly educational and effecting experience. Constrained by time, we had to leave after about two hours—we easily could have spent six or more in that museum alone. We departed for nearby Alexandria, Virginia, to sing at the Basilica of St. Mary—the first Catholic parish in the state! We had the opportunity to watch a performance of a local high school group, the Heights Choir, and they joined us for Ave Maria and Vive L’Amour, two Glee Club classics, during our performance.
The next morning we headed to Pittsburgh, my home city. After admiring the view of the city from the North Shore, near Heinz Stadium, a group of us visited Point State Park downtown then headed to Market Square to get some Primanti Brothers, a Pittsburgh classic. That night, we sang at Westminster Church in Upper St. Clair, where I grew up and had sung often with my high school choir. It was an unforgettable experience—my older brother Tommy and I split the solos on “Old Time Religion” in front of the hometown crowd, and had the honor of conducting the Alma Mater with the other Pittsburgh clubbers. The next day, we were treated to a wonderful breakfast by the Ryan family and headed to Indianapolis to finish our tour at St. Alphonsus.
This tour was an incredible experience. Not only did I get to sing at so many beautiful locations across four states, but I got to experience the whole trip with an absolutely amazing group of guys, and no matter how much Dan may thank us for “giving up” our fall break, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Danny O’Brien is a sophomore living in Dunne Hall from Pittsburgh, PA pursuing a major in Program of Liberal Studies.