When over 300 members of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale Glee Club, Freshman Chorus and Yale Camerata come together in Woolsey Hall Saturday, the resounding “Verdi Requiem” will reawaken the old and the traditional. The performance of Verdi’s Requiem will embody the richness of history that it celebrates, Yale’s tercentennial and the 100th anniversary of Verdi’s death.
Conceived as Italy mourned its great writer Alessandro Manzoni, Giuseppe Verdi’s (1813-1901) tribute to the author of the book “I Promessi Sposi,” which he admired so greatly, is not in the operatic form that gave Verdi his name. Five years before Manzoni’s death, Verdi collaborated with 11 other composers to write the “Requiem Mass for Rossini,” their venerated contemporary. Created as a set of individual musical movements, Verdi’s contribution, “Libera Me,” laid the foundation from beginning to end for the composer’s self-titled requiem.
“It is a powerful, moving piece,” YSO publicity director Claudia Stumpf ’03 said. The Requiem’s run time exceeds one hour, and it is usually played without any other accompanying pieces.
A total of 270 singers and 75 orchestra members will play at Woolsey Saturday, but given the small size of the stage, several singers will be positioned with four trumpets in the balcony, achieving an echo of the dramatic movement. Four soloists will complete the drama: soprano Lori Trustman, mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips, tenor Kevin Hill, and bass Ding Gao. All soloists are graduates of the Yale School of Music.
On April 10, the same program will echo through the esteemed Carnegie Hall.
“It is really exciting for us to get to play in such a prestigious hall — one of the most prestigious in the world,” Stumpf said. YSO returns to Carnegie Hall for the first time since 1993. “We are successfully raising the target $29,000,” added Stumpf, dispelling any rumors that the YSO is steeped in debt. The orchestra has been raising money through ticket sales, advertisements, bake sales and music gigs at receptions, since the Korea Times, its corporate sponsor last year, suffered unexpected financial difficulties this year. YSO is also saving for the tour in Eastern Europe that it has scheduled for next year.
Rose and Stumpf both commented on the commitment, spirit and enthusiasm of the musicians, which carries them through both intense rehearsals and fund raisers. The talent of YSO’s members is, of course, well recognized in the collegiate music world. YSO puts together a performance in one month of rehearsals and delivers six performances per year, an impressive number compared to one per term for most college orchestras.
“It requires competence and focus in the five hours per week that we put in for rehearsals,” Stumpf said.
“It is amazing to play at a place like Yale because of there is so much talent everywhere,” said Rose. It is rare for the orchestra to use eight trumpets, but Rose and Stumpf agreed that they had no problems finding musicians of the top caliber.
Under the direction of noteworthy conductor Shinik Hahm, with a repertoire encompassing both traditional and contemporary compositions, YSO is now finishing its 36th season. Recently, the YSO has played with several well-known guest soloists, such as pianist Emmanuel Ax.
YSO annually performs a long piece with a choir at this time of the year. Two years ago, they filled Woolsey Hall with a wide range of talent, an excited audience, and Beethoven’s Ninth.
“We want to do the same this year,” publicity coordinator Cecily Rose ’02 said.
They are optimistic, considering the success of the sold-out fall 2000 Halloween Show. The famous (or infamous) Halloween Show, in which orchestra members film a silent movie and play the soundtrack live, is organized and run entirely by students.
“It’s really great moment,” Rose said. “When else do classical musicians feel like rock musicians? People were begging me for tickets to the show.” In past years, James Bond and Britney Spears have had over 2,700 people engaged in their respective chases.
“To a certain extent, the success of the Halloween Show carries over to the rest of the performances,” Stumpf said. Verdi’s Requiem may not bring a drunken reverie of popular culture, but it should make Woolsey throb with the same intensity, talent and applause, only this time for the timeless and the traditional.
Tickets to the Woolsey show can be purchased through Friday, in Commons at lunch and on the first floor of Hendrie Hall between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. General admissions tickets are $5, and admission is free for season holders. For tickets to the Carnegie Hall show, call the YSO office at 432-4140 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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