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Posted at 12:10 AM ET, 01/10/2011

In performance: Yale Glee Club 150th

By Alfred Thigpen

Yale Glee Club at Strathmore, by Alfred Thigpen.

What? No Charles Ives? For its sesquicentennial concert at Strathmore on Friday night, Yale's Glee Club might have mentioned the name of this famous Yale alumnus-composer, or rationed out more than a passing fight song. Still, the sellout audience heard an opera-length concert featuring jazz pianist John Eaton, the Yale undergraduate groups Whim 'n Rhythm (all-female) and the Whiffenpoofs (all-male), alumni singers, and finally, the Glee Club itself.

Under the direction of Jeffrey Douma, the sopranos — indeed, all the voices — sang as one instrument, with flawless intonation that was aided by the absence of vibrato (the choral equivalent of uneven pavement). Without this discipline, the contemporary sacred works of James MacMillan and Robert Vuichard would have fallen like bad soufflés. Instead, their treacherously clustered semitones and contrapuntal subtleties became otherworldly and transcendent.

In a evening laced with commendable performances, the only standing ovation — scattered but richly deserved — went to Whiffenpoofs member Nathan Calixto for his performance of “Salley Gardens.” Jokingly referred to as the group’s “cash cow,” Calixto, with his cello-like tenor, momentarily erased dark memories of the preceding year. He is a true rising star.

Friday’s concert was the final stop on the glee club’s winter tour of the U.S., though an eight-city international tour is scheduled for this summer. With Yale’s considerable power behind him, Douma is clearly taking his groups into a strong third century.

By Alfred Thigpen  | January 10, 2011; 12:10 AM ET
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