Yale isn’t cheap. Everyone knows that tuition costs upwards of $60,000 a year. Books cost more than $1,000 a semester (DS, anyone?). Woads costs $5 a week. You may try to cut out extraneous expenditures, but when your friends want to have dinner at Harvest, all your penny-pinching promises go out the window. By May — once we’ve accounted for Claire’s cravings and Blue State runs and sales at Urban and late night Yorkside — our bank accounts are nearly depleted.
In my first year at Yale, I wasted a lot of money on impulsive, unsound investments. I did, however, make one investment that stood out from the rest. (No, it did not involve fossil fuels.)
In August, I bought a season pass to the Yale Symphony Orchestra. Though I’m a habitual and foolish spender, this was, without a doubt, the best purchase I made all year.
The season pass is worth the $39 (or less, if you’re willing to forego prime seating in the first balcony) purely because it will save you from developing a stress ulcer in an attempt to buy a coveted Halloween show ticket. While your peers might end up paying obscenely inflated prices to attend the famed spectacle, you will glide into Woolsey on All Hallow’s Eve (for only $15) and sit directly behind the seat reserved for President Peter Salovey (as I did this year).
In addition, you would most likely pay double the cost of YSO’s entire season to listen to the first song in their repertoire at Carnegie Hall or a similarly esteemed institution. Never again will we have the opportunity to enjoy classical music of this caliber at such a low price.
And on April 18, this year’s season will surely close with a bang, not a whimper. The final show will feature Prokofiev’s lyrical Piano Concerto No. 3 and Strauss’ famed An Alpine Symphony. As YSO violist Katie Martin ‘18 said, “This concert was special to me because it features one of my absolute favorite piano concertos, Prokofiev’s Third, which is joyous and melancholic and spirited and dolorous by turns, allowing our pianist to shine.”
In this year’s first concert, the “All French Program” on Sep. 27, the musicians gave gorgeous renditions of works by Debussy, Saint-Saëns and Fauré. I spent the first month of my Yale career anticipating this night, and the show was well worth the wait. The symphony began with Debussy’s Prélude de l’après-midi d’une faune, a perfect opening to the program and to the season as a whole. I was transported out of New Haven and into the enchanted meadow where I imagine Debussy’s titular faun resides.
YSO’s second performance was none other than the infamous Halloween show. (I showed up an hour early to ensure that I had the best seat in the house.) As the film and accompanying score began, I realized that this was the closest I would ever get to the heart of Yale. That moment encapsulated everything that the University represents for me: a steadfastly collaborative community celebrating art and creativity. The Halloween show displayed the highest point of student achievement I could imagine.
If the Halloween show was one high point of the season, YSO’s rendering of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony in B Minor was another. As a YSO groupie, I had naturally attended a benefit concert at which YSO had previewed the symphony. I was instantly hooked.
I proceeded to listen to the “unfinished” work incessantly until YSO’s next official concert, which began with the YSO premiere of composer Thomas Duffy’s “Heart Throb.” I was initially skeptical of the contemporary work, since I’m a die-hard fan of classical music, but YSO delivered a gorgeous performance of an innovative and striking piece, whose piercing, pulsating rhythm had *my* heart throbbing with excitement. I brought a non-Yale friend along to enjoy my beloved Schubert with me, and the two of us were nearly in tears by the time YSO finished the “unfinished” symphony.
The final peak of an extraordinary season was Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. Having read Petrarch, Milton and Wordsworth, I was familiar with the authors’ quests for the sublime — I found the object of their pursuit in Woolsey that evening as YSO graced the audience with one of the most beautiful and powerful love themes in history. Despite the melody’s universal renown, YSO brought out something new in a piece I had heard hundreds of times before. I sat through the concert with my eyes closed, tears welling up behind my lids. I had no idea that an undergraduate orchestra could ever have that effect on me.