Tonight, at 11:59 PM, Woolsey Hall will be teeming with ghouls, angels and witches alike, doing their diabolical dance to — you’ll never guess — classical music. Every year, the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween extravaganza includes a student-produced silent movie complemented by a wacky fusion of music that draws from a variety of music styles ranging from standard classical repertoire to catchy Nintendo Super Mario tunes. Yale students arrive fully donned in Halloween attire with fever pitch energy.
“There is a total rock concert atmosphere [and] a lot more energy than in a normal classical concert, which really helps draw people.” Yixing Xu ’04, YSO concertmaster, said. And don’t expect musicians to stroll onto stage in austere black concert clothes. They will prance out fully outfitted in anything as outrageous as Flintstones to cheerleader costumes.
Each year’s movie plot is a heavily guarded secret, but rumors are that there will be a whip and a giant deflatable beach ball.
“I can’t tell you, but people are going to love it,” Xu said.
We do know that the music will include excerpts from Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4, Berlioz Symphony Fantastique (from YSO’s most recent concert), as well as some student-arranged popular pieces.
Judging from last year’s movie, we should expect the unexpected. The synopsis ran something like this — in the heat of battle, Batman accidentally punches Robin and throws him into a burning vat full of acid. The combination of the acid and the years of pent-up jealously at being merely Batman’s sidekick turns Robin psychotic, and he decides to get Batman where it really hurts. Naturally, since Bruce Wayne is a Yale alumnus and dates Vicky Yale, Yale President Richard Levin’s daughter, “where it really hurts” is right here on our beloved campus. Cameos included Dean Brodhead and various college deans busting a karate move or two.
Given the mere week of rehearsal time, YSO will probably not deliver a polished performance. But most of us won’t be there to listen for intonation or musical nuances. Those subtleties will most likely be lost among the laughter, whistles and cheering from the audience.
The scripting and filming of the show began almost six months ago, in May, under the direction of Bill Strom ’05. The cast and film crew are all self-initiated volunteers from within the orchestra. With such extensive planning going into creating the movie, it would seem that the music takes the backseat while the movie steers the wheel.
But Strom said the show is really about both the music and the film.
“The dialogue between the music and the film is really a dialogue. Some scenes we shoot the way we do with specific music in mind,” Strom said. “[We also] pick music to go with the movie. We do spend more time filming than making the music. But with YSO, you can put down a piece of music in front of them and you have something to work with in 10 minutes. We have years and years of music experience under our belts.”
The best part about the show is that audience members don’t have to be familiar with these pieces to appreciate the show.
“[The Halloween show] makes the classical music that we all love more accessible to everybody and people can come and feel like it’s not a straight-laced classical music show,” Strom said. “They don’t have to feel bad about telling their friends that they went to a YSO concert. It’s a cool show.”