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Inside the Music

A Conversation with Two Minnesotan Musical Midshipmen

A portrait of the USNA Glee Club, standing on risers in a formal hall.
A 2022 portrait of the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club.

Following their acclaimed debut performance with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2018, the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club will again journey from Annapolis to downtown Minneapolis for concerts over Veterans Day weekend. For two of the Midshipmen, the grounds of Orchestra Hall will be a familiar one: Second Class Gabriella Krull and Third Class Jack Teske are Minnesota natives whose performance alongside the Orchestra represents a homecoming. They both took time out of their busy—and we mean busy—schedules to share about their experiences at the Naval Academy and performing with the Glee Club.

Gabby and Jack, could you tell us about some of your earliest musical memories? And as Minnesota natives, did you ever attend a concert at Orchestra Hall?

Jack Teske: Whether it be my parents singing to me when I was really, really young, or listening to YourClassical MPR in the car every time I went anywhere for years, I have been so blessed with a life full of music. Of course, Minnesota also has a great legacy when it comes to music. One of my favorite Minnesota Orchestra events that I attended was a performance of Handel’s Messiah several years ago with the Orchestra and the Minnesota Chorale. Performing that piece with the Glee Club in Annapolis last year certainly brought back fond memories!

Unfortunately, being on the East coast does not lend itself to attending many Minnesota Orchestra performances, but you can still find me listening to the Orchestra recordings of Tchaikovsky’s works that were made under Maestro Antal Dorati, as well as the more recent Sibelius and Mahler recordings.

Gabriella Krull: My parents put me in piano lessons when I was really little, which launched me into the world of music. Each year as our Christmas gift, my grandparents would give a year of musicals and plays for my older brother and I to go see with them. Some of my favorite memories come from the Sundays they would take us into Minneapolis for lunch and a play at the Children’s Theater, and eventually the Orpheum as we grew old enough. I attended a few performances by the Minnesota Orchestra during elementary and middle school, mostly as school trips. I was a part of band through middle school, and I had an amazing band director that really fostered my love of performing. Continuing music at the United States Naval Academy has been such an incredible experience, and a great way to continue to share my love of performing.

Tell us about the responsibilities of being a Midshipman. You're earning a bachelor's degree, a commission as a Naval or Marine Corps officer and are part of a touring choral ensemble. How do you balance these duties?

JT: Discipline is certainly key to navigating it all. I have always been a lover of the morning workout, so most of my days start at 5 a.m. for just about an hour of physical training before returning to my room to brew the all-important coffee! Then it’s off to formation, breakfast and morning classes before returning for a quick lunch and, if I’m lucky, a 20-minute power nap. The second half of my day is just as busy as the first, but I truly love what I do and am passionate about my academics, my military commitments and my participation in the Glee Club, so I don’t mind having a full schedule.

GK: It’s definitely tough! I am majoring in chemistry, a notoriously difficult major with a heavy course load and late afternoon labs that cut into rehearsal every Wednesday. After class, I go straight to Alumni Hall for rehearsal. We typically rehearse three times a week, from 3:45-5:15 p.m. After rehearsal ends, the other glee clubbers and I will head to our dining hall for some socializing and dinner before I go on a quick run, take a quick shower and start my homework! It’s a tough lifestyle but you get used to the fast pace! There is nowhere else I would rather be pursuing my college degree.

The USNA Glee Club performs John B. Dykes’ “Naval Hymn: Eternal Father,” which the ensemble will perform in their Orchestra Hall concerts unaccompanied.

You've both been in Annapolis for a while now. What is the significance of coming back to Minnesota to perform alongside your fellow Midshipmen?

JT: Annapolis is beautiful, but Minnesota will always be home for me. It is such a privilege for me personally as a Minnesotan to be able to collaborate with the Minnesota Orchestra. I am honored and beyond excited to be able to partner with the Orchestra to share our music with family, friends and my fellow Minnesotans. We are privileged to travel to so many great places, and I can’t wait for my peers to get a taste of Minnesota and see what makes our state so great.

GK: You can ask anyone in the Glee Club, I am very passionate about my home state! I was born and raised in Minnesota and had never lived anywhere else before coming to the Naval Academy. While Annapolis is incredible in its own ways, I often miss the cold winters, welcoming people and especially the Minnesota State Fair.

It means so much to me to be able to share our amazing state with all my friends in the Glee Club, but it means even more to share the Glee Club with my home state.”

Gabriella Krull

This question is for Gabby: What does it mean to be part of the USNA Women’s Glee Club—the only all-female military choral ensemble in the world?

GK: There is no doubt that the military is a very male-dominated field. Even so, it is insane to think that the USNA Women’s Glee Club is the only all-female military choir! I believe that what we do and take on as females in the military helps pave the way for those who follow in our footsteps. The Women’s Glee Club is full of strong women asserting their power in a male-dominated space, showing off our talents and what we are capable of. I have felt firsthand the intimidation and discrimination against women in the military, but I have found such strength and power from every other woman that stands beside me.

The list of artists that the Glee Club has collaborated with, the figures you've performed for and the venues you've performed at are quite impressive. Do you have any favorite concert memories from your tenures with the Glee Club?

JT: One of my favorite concert memories has to be performing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana this past spring with members of the Annapolis Symphony, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and the National Philharmonic Chorus. Of personal significance, the concert was my solo debut—I was privileged to bring to life the aria Estuans Interius which was a very humbling experience.

GK: My most memorable experience thus far was to Dallas, Texas, in the spring of 2022 when we performed at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Medal of Honor Museum and sang at a dinner and reception in honor of the surviving Medal of Honor recipients. That experience was very impactful to me as we had the opportunity to talk to many of the recipients, as well as to perform for previous presidents. After we performed our first song, President George W. Bush yelled, “That’s what I’m talking about!” and that has been a core memory for me, and proof of just how powerful music is.

Is there a song that you're particularly looking forward to performing with the Orchestra in November?

JT: I am very eager to perform Amazing Grace with the Orchestra. It really is a quintessential American hymn, but so powerful musically as well.

In addition to our vocal performance and the wonderful instrumental accompaniment of the Orchestra, we add another layer for that piece only which is always a favorite for our audiences.

Jack Teske

GK: This is a tough one! But I think the song I’m most excited for is the Armed Forces Medley. We sing all of the service songs for the different branches of the military and invite any active duty military or veterans to stand during their branch’s song. It is so powerful to see members of the audience beam with pride when their branch’s song plays, the audience gets so involved that the energy is truly electric. Since my first Glee Club tour with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2021, we have never performed it and left dry eyes in the audience.

Don’t miss the USNA Glee Club’s performance with the full Minnesota Orchestra on November 11-12. The concerts will be conducted by Sarah Hicks and will include the Glee Club’s signature mix of patriotic favorites, Broadway hits and choral classics, alongside special arrangements by Orchestra trumpeter Charles Lazarus.

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