HGC in the South: Day 4

Day 4 started with a delicious Southern breakfast of shrimp and grits. Our host had lived in Belgium for a substantial amount of time, and she was a good cook. She also had two dogs who were very friendly and energetic, despite one of them being a fairly old dog.

We were driven to the Unitarian Church in Charleston, where we received an introduction to Charleston’s history from a professional tour guide. The talk started out interesting enough: learning about the construction of the church during the American Revolution and its connection to Harvard. The tour guide was also humorous and clearly excited to talk about Charleston, but when he mentioned that he would be free until 11:45, we all had flashbacks to FXH and his interminable speeches. Thankfully, he wasn’t scheduled for three hours, and we left to explore Charleston shortly after, armed with maps and a few walking tour suggestions.

Early in the day (around 11:30 AM), downtown Charleston bears a striking resemblance to downtown Santa Barbara in its climate and architecture. As a few friends and I walked to the waterfront, we enjoyed the sunshine, light breeze, and empty streets. This was our first opportunity to really enjoy the sun without having another obligation to attend to, so we just spent sometime looking off of the pier at the harbor. In the distance, you could see Fort Sumter, a half-rest on the horizon.

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Lunch spot on the Water

As we walked north along the water, we encountered some of the other Glee Club members. Some people were starting to get hungry, so we decided to find somewhere to eat. Unfortunately, the inertia of large groups is so strong that after fifteen minutes of walking around the city, we still hadn’t found anywhere to go. This problem was solved when we split off into smaller groups. Some people went to get grits, some went to Chick-fil-A, others went to barbecue, and I went to get some seafood at Fleet Landing, where I had a fried shrimp Po-Boy and some coleslaw. Delicious.

After lunch we walked south along the waterfront, retracing our steps. By this time in the afternoon, it had started to warm up and the humidity was taking hold. I was surprised by how different it was walking down the same stretch of sidewalk a few hours later in the day. Eventually, we reached White Point Garden, where there were statues commemorating those who had died in the battle of Fort Sumter. The trees there offered us some shade, so we rested there for a while.

Now that we had exercised a bit, we felt the need for some ice cream. Thus, we took another walk up the peninsula, this time through the museum part of town. The streets had filled up a bit and the sun was unrelenting, but it was fun to look at all the old buildings, especially with an architecture buff with us. Eventually we reached Ben and Jerry’s, where we grabbed some ice cream before walking back to the church for rehearsal. On the way back, some people decided it would be fun to try singing “The Longest Time” in tritone intervals. This elicited some strange looks from people on the street, but was an interesting experiment nonetheless. It turns out it is very difficult to sing in tritone intervals without slipping into perfect fourths or fifths.

White Point Garden

White Point Garden

Rehearsal and dinner whizzed by, and soon it was time for the concert! The church was standing room only, and the audience was quite enthusiastic. We started out in a circle surrounding the audience before moving onto the risers. We performed The Field even better here than in Savannah, and got another standing ovation for it. It really is a stirring piece, and I actually got chills while singing a certain part, which I take as a sign of a good concert. I hope eventually I’ll be able to post a link to it. Lite also premiered Papaoutai, which was well received, even if the beatboxing (done by yours truly) was a bit shaky and the notes weren’t always there. The last piece of note was a composition by PDQ Bach which was “discovered” by the Glee Club for its 125th anniversary. In typical PDQ Bach style, it had silly musical citations and inside jokes, and was an all-around fun piece to sing, especially given that Samuel Gilman, the minister of the Unitarian church, had written the lyrics to Fair Harvard.

After the concert, there was a reception in the building across the street where we were able to talk to some of the audience, and they all seemed to enjoy the performance. I grabbed a drink (of water) and some food, but I was pretty tired, especially after coming from the emotional high of finishing the concert. So I headed back to the house with my host.



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