Among the chaotic club posters and hastily printed frat party flyers covering Yale’s message boards, true art is a rare find.
Yet once a month, a graphic treasure stands out against the florescent clutter: Yale Symphony Orchestra performance posters, carefully crafted to catch the eyes (and ears) of briskly passing Yalies.
As part of the YSO’s 40th anniversary celebration, 40 years of YSO posters are currently being featured in an exhibit at the School of Art. Beginning with a poster promoting a concert of works by Bach, Beethoven and Stravinsky in the fall of 1968, the colorful collection spans chronologically through YSO’s expansive performance library, reflecting both the diversity of music and artistic style throughout the eras.
As the posters mirror the correlation between music and art, the exhibition itself highlights an ongoing relationship between the orchestra and Yale graphic design students, many of which have gone on to become prominent artists.
The showing features works by designers Joel Katz ’65 ART ’67, Chris Pullman ART ’66, Tom Strong ART ’67 and Dan Friedman ’71, among others, along with recent posters by undergraduate students and professors.
“The posters are so well known and the enthusiasm for them so great that we realized they clearly need an exhibition,” YSO managing director Brian Robinson said. “With this display, we can see how, chronologically, the orchestra has progressed.”
According to university printer John Gambell, the graphic design graduate students creating the posters strove to fuse musical theme and graphic identity to reflect culture through creative design.
“Good posters fill seats, which is a challenge for graphic designers,” he said.
Along with Robinson, Strong took a leading role in creating the exhibit, contributing posters from his personal collection.
The exhibit is only 40-50 posters shy of composing the entire YSO collection, Strong said.
“The posters were so attractive that people would steal them,” Strong said, recalling a poster by Katz featuring a nude woman that began the phenomenon known as the “Yale Tear” — tearing off a little bit to prevent stealing.
As one of the original graphic designers, Strong is very pleased to see the posters displayed in an exhibition.
“I never thought there would be an exhibition like this,” he said. “It’s a dream I never had that became a dream come true.”
YSO members, with the help of Strong, also borrowed posters from Yale alumni.
The display, which includes posters promoting concerts featuring well-known musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, was well-received by orchestra members attending the exhibit.
“It’s really cool to walk around and see past posters and who played with the orchestra,” YSO principle bassoonist Elizabeth Schurgin ’07 said.
The exhibit is the first of many YSO 40th anniversary celebrations, including an alumni event in February and a tour through the Pacific Northwest.
YSO President Bill Perdue ’07 was surprised by the vast collection of artwork associated with the orchestra.
“I heard we had a proud tradition of great posters, but I didn’t know what to expect. But I was blown away by the quality,” Perdue said.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”1005″ ]