To the Editor:
Cullen Macbeth’s “Orchestra rivalries flare up” (1/27) asserts the Saybrook College Orchestra was “founded in 2003” as a “less serious” group than other orchestras. Those of us who helped found SYO in 2001 were indeed reacting against the competitive atmosphere of several ensembles. But we believed fostering a collaborative, mutually supportive setting in which musicians could rehearse and socialize was entirely conducive to making music at the highest level. Yale’s orchestras are all serious about music, and SYO’s strong ensemble spirit and vibrant social life have not compromised its musical integrity.
MacBeth does not make it clear that the SYO’s current conductor is an Associate Fellow of Saybrook College, not a professional conductor. SYO never paid or compensated anyone to conduct. Further, SYO’s undergraduate leadership makes all decisions regarding the orchestra’s operations, including auditioning new members and selecting repertoire. That SYO has recently attracted more musicians than other orchestras can be attributed to factors MacBeth does not consider, such as musical programming, educational and outreach activities, collaborations with opera and musical theater groups and opportunities to take part in orchestra leadership.
One thing MacBeth gets right is that rivalry among Yale’s instrumental ensembles is more a product of personal politics than of deep-seated animosities. An article focusing on the collaborative work and artistic dedication that enable both the Berkeley and Saybrook Orchestras to thrive would have done greater service to Yale’s music community.
Justin Albstein ’04
Jan. 27, 2006
The writer is the founder of the Saybrook College Orchestra.