Weekend with the Slavs
I'm leaving today for the 35th Reunion of the Yale Women's Slavic Chorus. The Yale Slavic Chorus was founded in 1969, shortly after Yale decided to let females in. Because they wouldn't reduce their pledge to pump out "1000 male leaders" every year, we had to be shoe-horned in, somehow.
I was in the third freshman class of girls. There were way too few of us, something like 10 to 1. One might think that would be great, but it wasn't. The guys were resentful and we felt quite lost. There wasn't really a place for us.
Every student group got to decide if girls would be admitted. We were standing around waiting to see which doors would be slammed in our faces. The Glee Club, for instance, said yes to girls.
But the hoary old Russian Chorus said no. They wanted their line of tuxedos to remain unbroken, maybe. (See this mixed picture of current members and old coots, on tour.)
In retaliation, the all-female Slavic Chorus was founded. The group was small but doughty, and did music from Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, and Poland as well as women's music from Russia.
The ire I felt being closed out of the Russian Chorus evaporated when I heard the Slavs. The sound made my hair stand on end, I had goosebumps from my toes on up. This was the music for me. (I'm still singing it, in my band Mappamundi.)
In 1995, celebrating a quarter century of women at Yale, there was a Slav reunion concert. I went and took my daughter Melina, who was 11 years old at the time. What we mostly remember is that it was way too cold and that the dorm room we were staying in had an awful lot of empty vodka bottles on the windowsill.
In 2000, there was another reunion, and I took Melina again. She was 16, a junior in high school, and I taught her all the songs and she sang in the concert. Both of us are in the picture above, taken on the steps of the chapel where we sang.
Then Melina decided she would go to Yale, and that she would sing in the Slavic Chorus. After all, she had heard the music all her life. The picture here is from the cd the group did last year.
Now, as a senior about to graduate, she is director of the group and hence Boss of this 35th reunion!
So I get to go with the other old and not-so-old coots and get Bossed by my daughter! I think she's expecting about 70 alums, and we will make a grand noise.
This is karmically surprising and delightful. I'm beside myself.
Will let you know how it goes.