The Pomona College Glee Club’s annual concert tour — which has taken them over the years to Europe and throughout the United States — will keep them closer to home next week. With stops in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles, this tour focuses on community outreach with three benefit concerts, in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, to raise money for Southern California fire and mudslide relief. The concerts will be held May 15, 16 and 18 and there is no price for admission. A freewill offering will be taken.

In a private event, The Glee Club will also be volunteering and singing at The Midnight Mission, an organization that assists people experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Their day at The Mission is the result of a collaboration with Street Symphony, a Los Angeles-based performance organization that presents regular monthly engagements at The Mission and with other communities affected by homelessness or incarceration.

The Glee Club has a long history of combining community outreach and concert performances in various forms, says Donna M. Di Grazia, David J. Baldwin Professor of Music and ensemble conductor. Tours have taken the ensemble to retirement homes and underserved schools (among other places), from New York to Poland. For Di Grazia, the outreach component is about making connections to other people, whether it’s bridging isolation and loneliness among seniors, interacting with young people or working for disaster relief.

“Music can touch you in a way that is profound and allows you to respond as an individual... It really transcends generations, life experience, culture, gender and religion…You don’t know who will be moved, or how, but in my experience someone always is.”

A tour is not only an opportunity to connect with parents, friends, alumni and the general public, it also brings students to venues they may otherwise not visit, much less sing in. Whether performing in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice or in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., a community room at a senior center, or even in a school gymnasium, Di Grazia says “the singers experience the music differently in different spaces.”

Di Grazia has been conducting at Pomona for 20 years, and with each program she prioritizes introducing students to music they have not encountered in high school, choosing pieces that engage the mind and that develop her singers’ skills as musicians.

“Donna works magic at pulling together different pieces to create a concert that has a beautiful flow to it,” says Elizabeth Champion, the music department’s concert production manager.

The tour program includes classical music from the Renaissance to Black spirituals.  

For Di Grazia, conducting the ensemble is also deeply connective for her.

“Within Pomona’s choral program, and in the music department as a whole, we’re able to offer high quality experiences for a wide variety of students with diverse experiences across academic disciplines…It is a place where students can find a sense of community both during their four years here and as alumni.”


Tour 2018 Concert Schedule:

Tuesday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. Trinity Episcopal Church (1500 State St., Santa Barbara Calif.)

Wednesday, May 16, 7 p.m. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (3290 Loma Vista Road, Ventura, Calif.)

Friday, May 18, 8 p.m. St. John’s Cathedral (514 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif.)


Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

Geistliches Lied, op. 30 Johannes Brahms

Ezekiel Saw de Wheel, William Dawson (arr.)

Beau Soir, Claude Claude Debussy

Set me as a Seal, René Clausen

Only in Sleep, Ēriks Ešenvalds

Gaudeamus omnes, William Byrd

Abendlied, op. 69, no. 3, Josef Rheinberger

Trost, op. 6, no. 1, Max Reger

Hosanna to the Son of David. Orlando Gibbons

Bring us, O Lord, Sir William Harris

Ballade to the Moon, Daniel Elder

I Got a Home in-a dat Rock, Moses Hogan (arr.)

Amazing Grace, Daniel Brinsmead (arr.)