By Starrla Cray
DELANO, LORETTO, MN Arlene Litfin of Delano and Eileen Elsen of Loretto are looking forward to Wednesday, Nov. 10 through Sunday, Nov. 14 with great anticipation.
That’s the time their grandson, Nicholas Litfin, will be performing in the Twin Cities with the United States Naval Academy’s 75-member men’s glee club.
“People don’t realize how good the music is until they hear them,” Eileen said. “I can’t say enough good.”
“It’s a wonderful group to see,” Arlene added.
The main public concert will be a Veterans Day salute to America’s heroes at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11 at the Basilica of St. Mary, 16th Street and Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
Tickets are available in advance at www.usna.edu/music, at www.tickets.com, or at the door the evening of the performance.
“I’m so excited that they are having it in Minnesota,” Eileen said. “Since they’re having it on Armistice Day, that makes it even more exciting.”
The men’s glee club is the largest and most active of the Naval Academy’s musical organizations.
“It’s very prestigious,” Nicholas’s father, Tim, said.
“Over the last couple years, we have performed in Chile, Argentina, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, at Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington DC, and at the christening of the George HW Bush aircraft carrier in Norfolk, VA,” Nicholas noted
Arlene and Eileen haven’t been to all the concerts, but they try to make as many as they can.
“It’s something no one would ever regret going to,” Eileen said. “The music is just so heavenly.”
The glee club sings a variety of music, from classical songs and sea chanteys to patriotic Navy hymns and upbeat tunes.
“My favorite song, by far, is ‘Ave Maria,’” said Nicholas, who graduated from Waconia High School in 2008.
People who attend a Naval Academy glee club concert are listening to some of the most distinguished and talented young men in the country.
It was a rigorous process in order to get into the academy, according to Nicholas. Applicants have to be nominated by a senator or congressman. They then need to be appointed by the academy.
“They’re looking for athletes and academic skill,” Tim said.
“There were something like 12,000 applicants, and only about 1,200 were accepted, so it’s pretty rewarding,” Nicholas noted.
Getting into the glee club is also difficult.
“A couple hundred tried out for roughly 25 spots,” Nicholas said.
Nicholas’s older brother, Philip, was also a Naval Academy glee club member. Philip graduated from the academy in 2007, and is now a Navy pilot.
Nicholas also hopes to fly for the Navy, but his dream is to eventually become a sports writer or sports broadcaster.
The Naval Academy, which is located in Annapolis, MD, provides useful training for a variety of careers, and everyone takes technical classes like physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering.
“They work them hard,” Tim said. “It’s a tough institution.”
“We aren’t allowed to leave the campus on weekdays, and can only spend some weekends off the yard,” Nicholas said. “It’s a tough place to be at, but a good place to be from.”
Nicholas said the main reason he chose to attend the Naval Academy is to serve his country.
“There is no prouder moment than being able to put on that uniform and know you are protecting the best country in the world,” he said.
For Nicholas, the glee club has been a great way to make close friends and share music with the world.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings to see the audiences’ jaws dropping in amazement,” Nicholas said. “To move and to be moved is our motto.”
According to Eileen, it’s a good idea to get tickets to the concerts ahead of time, because space can fill up quickly.
“It’s going to be fun,” she said. “It’s so breathtaking.”
Tim and his wife, Yvonne, are also big fans of the glee club.
“We go wherever they go,” Tim said. “They are outstanding.”
Many of the glee club members have never been to Minnesota, Arlene said.
“I am really looking forward to bringing the glee club back home with me in November,” Nicholas noted. “I miss Minnesota, and always look forward to going home for the holidays.”
In addition to the Veterans Day concert, the glee club will be visiting several area high schools and will be the featured choir for the special Veterans Day weekend Mass at the Basilica at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13.
For more information on USNA Men’s Glee Club, go to www.usna.edu/music.
More information about the Naval Academy is available at www.usna.edu.