YSO concert graced by student solos

The Yale Symphony Orchestra presented the second performance of its 37th season Saturday night at Woolsey Hall.

Mark Seto ’03 and Kimberly DeQuattro ’03 had special roles in the concert — Seto as a student conductor and DeQuattro as a soloist. Maestro Stephen Heyde was the guest conductor for the performance.

The YSO performed three pieces: Johannes Brahms’ “Tragic Overture,” Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” and Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Symphony No. 5 in D-minor.”

Seto, who also plays violin in the orchestra, conducted the first piece of the evening, “Tragic Overture.” Initially, he was told he was only going to be conducting in the rehearsals, but Maestro Shinik Hahm and Heyde decided to let him take the helm of the actual performance.

“Maestro Heyde was very gracious,” Seto said.

Seto said he is considering going to graduate school for historical musicology, the study of music from an academic perspective. He said that conducting was a way to combine all of the things musicians study, from theory to performance.

“It just presents a whole different set of challenges and opportunities,” Seto said. “It’s a large burden to win [the orchestra's] respect and have them put their trust in you.”

But this was not Seto’s debut in the role of conductor. He has studied conducting under Hahm, the YSO’s music director, and was one of the conductors of the YSO’s show on Halloween. He is also the founder and music director of the Timothy Dwight Chamber Players and a conductor of the Saybrook College Chamber Orchestra.

DeQuattro, a soprano, performed as one of two winners of the YSO’s annual William Waite Concerto Competition. The other winner of the competition, Genevieve Chow ’04, a cellist, will perform Feb. 1.

Winners of the competition perform the pieces that they used in their auditions. DeQuattro said she chose “Knoxville: Summer of 1915″ because she had seen it performed by other sopranos in the past and liked the fact that it was written in English and appropriate for younger voices.

Describing the concert as “a special opportunity,” DeQuattro said she had never performed at such a venue with so large an audience.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so exposed,” she said. “It was great to see all the faces in the audience and try and relate the story to everybody. I was definitely in awe of that.”

DeQuattro said singing in “such a vacuous space as Woolsey” was difficult.

“I appreciated the sensitivity of both orchestra and conductor to this challenge, which speaks of their flexibility and musicianship,” she said.

Heyde, a professor of orchestra studies and conductor-in-residence at Baylor University and a conductor of the Waco Symphony Orchestra, served as guest conductor for the final two pieces.

The audience enjoyed the performance immensely. Seto, DeQuattro, Heyde and the orchestra received multiple rounds of applause.

“Shostakovich, which was one of my favorite pieces, was played very, very well,” said Cecily Rose ’02, a former member of the YSO.

The YSO is scheduled to perform three more concerts next semester.

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