As Parents Weekend dawns upon the Yale arts community, the Davenport Pops Orchestra is set to perform pieces that range from Disney film scores to Beyoncé’s greatest hits.
DPops opens its 2014–’15 season on Friday with arrangements of Beyoncé songs, film scores from the ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Pocahontas’ and the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series. Three of the four featured pieces were arranged by members of the orchestra. DPops’s Head Conductor Tim Laciano ’15 said the group provides many opportunities for its members to arrange music, adding that he believes the group’s diverse repertoire appeals to a broad audience.
“We try to strive for a balance between something that’s fun and that people want to come to and something that is musically successful,” Laciano said.
Dpops Co-President Emily Frost ’16 said that Friday’s concert, titled “DPops Goes Exploring,” was a collaborative effort among DPop musicians. She explained that the orchestra’s board decides a concert theme and chooses what music to play after receiving input from all orchestra members, including freshmen. Frost added that while the concert has its share of crowd-pleasing gimmicks, it still maintains a balance between preserving musical rigor and providing an enjoyable experience. Laciano explained that the concert’s name refers to the literal theme of exploration in the case of Pocahontas and ‘Narnia,’ and a sense of emotional exploration with Beyoncé’s music.
Of the five DPops members interviewed, four pointed to the Beyoncé arrangement as their favorite piece being played in Friday’s concert. Bettina Cheung ’16, the other co-president of DPops, agreed with Frost, adding that she thinks arrangements like the Beyoncé piece highlight the character of the group.
“I don’t think any other group on campus would play that,” Cheung said.
Frost said the music was selected primarily to fit the current musical strengths of the orchestra, explaining that the brass-heavy portions and challenging string parts in the Harry Potter film score rely on the expertise and talent of both orchestral sections in DPops. She noted that DPops tends to focus on film scores, Broadway shows and classic pop, referring to these genres as “all the music you wanted to play in high school but never could.” Haohang Xu ’17, who plays first violin in DPops, said she believes the music featured in Friday’s concert is representative of the group’s interest in promoting student-arranged pieces.
DPops will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in February. This year, the group is composed of over 90 musicians, which is twice as many as the group had two years ago. Frost said that alumni of the orchestra are often surprised at the group’s rate of growth in recent years. Laciano and Assistant Conductor Michael Wang ’17 explained that increasing group’s membership has been a high priority for the orchestra’s leadership, adding that hosting frequent social events to strengthen the group’s sense of community has been helpful in retaining musicians.
“Our major goal recently has been to expand as far as numbers and to musically improve,” said Laciano.