Have you ever had dreams of performing in packed concert halls all over the world? From Brahms to Bresnick, Verdi to Villa Lobos, the Yale Symphony Orchestra plays it all. A top-notch university orchestra, in the past two years the YSO has performed for packed houses in Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, the Seoul Arts Center in Korea, and Yale’s own Woolsey Hall.
The YSO recruits the talents of Yale’s best undergraduate musicians. It rehearses twice per week for two and a half hours at a time. Performing an average of five or six two-hour concerts per year, members of the orchestra constantly have the opportunity to perform new programs of professional caliber.
As a flutist in the YSO, I have met some of the most interesting people at Yale in the orchestra, not to mention some of my closest friends. I auditioned originally because of the reputation of the YSO. Whenever I tell people around campus or even at other schools that I play with the orchestra, they are impressed. I’ve stuck with the orchestra because it provides a nice release from the everyday hassles of Yale life — two and a half hours of nothing but performing and perfecting beautiful music can’t help but ease a day.
The audition process for the YSO is similar to any high caliber orchestra. Musicians get a week to prepare a packet of orchestral excerpts for audition before the conductor, Maestro Shinik Hahm. The orchestra performs concerts in early October, November, February and March, as well as a performance at Avery Fisher or Carnegie Hall every year.
On Halloween night, the orchestra performs its renowned Halloween Show, in which it accompanies a silent, YSO-produced film before a Woolsey Hall packed with 3,000 drunken, costumed Yale students. The orchestra also goes on international tours every other year. Last year, the YSO toured South Korea, and next year, a tour of Eastern Europe is in the works.
People come in to the YSO with differing preparations and expectations. Many members performed with high school and All-State orchestras, or those at summer festivals. Every year, a number of YSO graduates go on to first-tier music graduate schools, such as Julliard or the Cleveland Institute of Music. Others have no further musical aspirations and view the YSO as the pinnacle of their musical careers.
Having performed with orchestras throughout my pre-Yale life, I knew my experience here would be incomplete without a musical element. The YSO has done a great job of filling that musical void. Not only has it given me the opportunity to perform great music, it has opened up a number of other opportunities as well. I have formed chamber groups and performance ensembles with many different members of the YSO over the years. Groups of students from the orchestra perform at nursing homes and soup kitchens and teach in elementary schools on a regular basis. Members of the orchestra compose and conduct too, so the group constantly provides additional performance occasions.
Every year, the orchestra has an organizational meeting in early September to learn about the organization and sign up for auditions.
The orchestra has truly been one of the highlights of my Yale experience. It has played an important role in helping me define myself at Yale and become a better musician. Also known for YSO parties, Miya’s nights (sake bombing) and Mory’s nights, the musicians in the orchestra are a fun, talented group of students. Audition for the YSO, and you won’t be disappointed.
Rachel Alpert ’03 has performed as a flutist in the YSO since her freshman fall. Most notably, she starred as the evil Britney Spears, red catsuit and all, in the YSO Halloween Show 2000.