Monday, March 5, 2012


We've been back in the States for over a month now, and with the conclusion of our Americans In Paris homecoming concert it's about time we came back to reality: we're not on tour anymore.  As such, we'll be discontinuing this blog (though you can always find the most up to date information about us on the Princeton University Glee Club website).

Of course we will never forget the wonderful experiences we had, the people we met, or those that helped make this tour possible.  There have been so many people that put time, effort and money into this endeavor that it would be impossible to acknowledge them here, but there are some groups that deserve special thanks:
  • The wonderful alumni donors that allowed so many talented students without the means to travel to Paris
  • The French citizens and other residents who made us feel welcome both as performers and as foreign visitors
  • All of the members of the Glee Club that devoted time and effort organizing and coordinating all of the amazing things we did on tour

We are grateful to all of you and hope you keep in touch.  Au revoir!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Paris Homecoming Concert

For everyone in the States who missed our tour performances.  8pm March 2nd, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton, NJ, USA.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pictures (in roughly chronological order)

Foucalt pendulum in the Pantheon 
Notre Dame 

L'eglise de la Madeleine 

Concert at L'eglise de la Madeleine 

Eiffel Tower

Views at the Eiffel Tower

Glee Club visits UNESCO Headquarters in Paris

Concert at UNESCO


Rehearsal at Basilique Ste-Clotilde  
Concert at Basilique Ste-Clotilde 


Reheatsal at Chartres Cathedral
Concert at Chartres Cathedral

State flags at American Cathedral
Concert at American Cathedral

Paris vs. USA: A Student Comparison

- The sun rises around two hours later (8:45 AM) than in New Jersey (7 AM).  No one has yet delivered a completely satisfactory explanation as to why this bizarre phenomenon occurs.
- Breakfast almost always consists of a baguette and a croissant with coffee.  Tons of carbs, and totally worth it. :)
- All the buildings (with a few exceptions) are built in the same style.  This is charming at first, but actually kind of weird after a while...
- EVERYONE says "Bonjour" to you when you enter their establishment!  Overly-friendly?  I think not! :D
- That cathedral is 800 years old... AKA, over twice the age of our nation?  No big deal.
- That cathedral is actually Gothic.  No, not Princeton-Gothic.  *Actually* Gothic.
- The acoustic in the aforementioned cathedrals?  AMAZING.
- If you order just "water" ("de l'eau") at a restaurant, you may be charged 4 euros.  FOUR EUROS.  For water in a bottle.  (is that even possible?!)  Gotta love them carafes...
- Don't be surprised to encounter gargantuan stone arches covered in carved Latin inscriptions in the center of random intersections.  These things happen in Paris.
-Crêpes (which rhymes with "schleps") are delicious and wondrous and come in all sorts of delectable assortments that can be bought cheaply at stands around the city.  America should adopt this convention post-haste, in my opinion.
- Baguettes - as in, full-length baguettes - can be bought for less than 1 euro.  This is a beautiful fact.
- "Vegetarianism" seems to not really be a "thing"... unless the French count herrings as vegetables?
- Did I mention that most people speak French in France?  And that they're far less snobby about speaking English than everyone in the States had convinced me...
- "Franglish" is just as amusing as "Engrish," in a more European way. :)  (And I'm sure we're just as bad with French, here in the USA...)
- France is NOT a welcoming place for asthmatics. >:(
- The Eiffel Tower is exactly as stunning in real life as one would imagine it to be!

Tara Naoko Ohrtman
Princeton University 2013

Monday, January 9, 2012

Home again!

The Glee Club is finally back home, just in time for reading period. The quietness of Princeton suburbia on this winter afternoon makes Paris seem impossibly far away - there are no cobblestones to trip over, no peddlers to dodge, and on the whole there are somehow just fewer things to hear and smell and look at. The long row of wide-windowed shops on Nassau seems almost ridiculously orderly compared to the tumble of boulangeries, crêperies, and other small establishments that compete for space on every street corner in Paris. And Princeton nightlife, which is probably doomed to endless controversy and an equally endless supply of bad beer, seems somehow pale and petty next to the incredible vibrancy of Paris's bars and cafés, which stay open long past midnight on most days of the week.

In a way, it's preposterous to try to get to know a city as old and multifaceted as Paris in just six short days, but nonetheless we did our best to sample it all - often literally. Good food is available everywhere in the city, which was a special pleasure for those of us used to surviving off of dining hall salad or day-old restaurant takeouts from the U-Store. The bakeries and crêperies sprinkled all across the Latin Quarter (where our hotels were located) provided an amazing and inexpensive selection of breakfast, lunch, and snacky foods for us throughout each day. And our dinner a few nights ago at Chez Françoise was fantastic, perhaps the best food we had during the entire trip - a creamy pumpkin soup to start, salmon dressed in a green curry sauce for the main course, and a cup of sweet pineapple and coconut sorbet for the finish. For lunch one day, some of us also visited one of the best-loved falafel joints in the city: L'As du Falafel, a tiny stand nestled into one of the narrow cobblestone streets in the Marais district.

As for the museums and monuments - what can we say that hasn't already been said before and said better by others? As Baron de Pöllnitz wrote more than three centuries ago, "Paris has been described so much and one has heard it talked about so much, that most people know what the city looks like without ever having seen it." All this was true for us too, for who can make it to Princeton without receiving at least a little of the enormous imprint that Paris has left on art and culture in the western world? The Eiffel Tower was perhaps even taller than we imagined, and the motor vehicle traffic around the Arc de Triomphe even more reckless and terrifying than we'd been warned. The few hours we were able to spend inside the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay were both inadequate and deeply satisfying, especially for those of us who came to Paris already having spent countless hours exploring these museums in books or in our imaginations.

All in all, the trip has been spectacular, and I suspect I'm not the only one who misses Paris already. Many of us have returned home with new friends, many fewer euros, a slightly expanded French vocabulary (où est le metro? voilà mon passeport!), and last but certainly not least, a new sense of confidence and cohesiveness as a choir. Rehearsing and performing every night under some of the most beautiful vaulted ceilings in France has had a real and inspiring effect on the way we make music together, which we very much hope to carry with us into our next performance on home turf.

Au revoir, Paris, et bonne nuit! It has been a very good week.

Emily Sung

Saturday, January 7, 2012


After a few days of nonstop traveling, singing and walking, it was nice to have a free morning on Saturday to explore the city with no commitments.  Some chose to walk to the Louvre or another favorite spot; others ate a delicious breakfast from an area patisserie or crepe stand; some browsed the farmers' market stalls set up down the street.

At 12:30, the Glee Club reconvened and boarded a double decker bus bound for the town of Chartres.  On our approach the most noticeable feature was the massive cathedral that dominated the hillside, somewhat like a castle surrounded by a medieval village.  Up close, the grandeur of the towering spires and flying buttresses and the tangible age of the stone dominate your attention; stepping inside, you are struck by the soaring ceiling and the amazingly detailed, richly colored stained glass.  We had even more free time after we were dropped off, so we explored the charming shops and cafes near the cathedral before our rehearsal at 5:00.

For the mass at 6:00, we performed pieces for the Kyrie, the Offertory, and the Angus Dei.  Immediately afterwards we sang a concert, which was well attended by both churchgoers and other locals that showed up after the service.  Even though we could see our breath as we sang, it was an incredible experience and one that we won't soon forget.

Pictures soon, I promise.

Tour Eiffel, UNESCO, and Basilique Ste-Clotilde

We woke up early on Friday morning in order to beat the crowds to that Parisian icon, La Tour Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower).  Since the sky was nice and clear, we could see almost the entire city skyline, including the ferris wheel on the Champs-Elysees and Notre Dame near where we are staying.

Following our touristy excursion we walked through the Champ de Mars to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) building in Paris, the site of our daytime concert.  Upon arriving we were given a tour of the UNESCO's collection of artistic and architectural works, including sculptures by Henry Moore and Alexander Calder, the Japanese Gardens (complete with an acoustically perfect meditation chamber), the largest Picasso ever painted, and the only downward sloping V-shaped roof in existence.  The United States delegate opened our set with his remarks, and we closed it with an electrifying encore.

Following our concert we walked or took the train to the Musee d'Orsay on the bank of the Seine.  Once a huge train station, the Musee now displays an impressive collection of French art from about 1850 - 1915.  It is especially well known for its collections of impressionist and post-impressionist art, representing painters like Monet, Cezanne, and Van Gogh.

It was just a short walk from the museum to our next concert venue, the Basilique Ste-Clotilde.  It is an impressive space both inside and out, with two imposing spires, beautiful white stone interiors, and a massive organ built by the famous Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.  With the amazing acoustics, it was a very special concert for the Glee Club.

Stay tuned for news on our adventures in Chartre!