Last weekend, Yale’s campus was alive with student group performances aimed at a fan base older than the usual undergraduate audience.
Beginning on Sept. 25, parents on campus for Family Weekend were invited to explore Yale’s rich cultural landscape through events ranging from an exhibit at the Lewis Walpole Library to a joint a cappella concert put on by the Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm.
Co-president of dance group Rhythmic Blue Hana Bendy ’17 said her favorite part of the weekend showcase was giving her group’s new members the opportunity to perform for their parents.
“I remember my Parents’ Weekend when I was a freshman, and it was one of the first times I felt like I was a part of a special group,” Bendy said. “I was excited to have our new members feel like they were a part of our family.”
While many groups, such as Mixed Company and the Duke’s Men of Yale, generate profit through ticket and album sales during Family Weekend, for others, the three-day event is not a significant source of revenue. Serene Li ’17, a member of Living Water and the Yale Glee Club, said both groups’ concerts were free of charge.
To lower the cost of renting performance space and stage crews, a number of groups chose to host shows together. For example, Mixed Company and the Duke’s Men held a joint concert Friday night in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, a performance they also gave last year.
“We usually do charge the same price for [Family Weekend as] our semester shows,” Bendy said. “Most of our revenue comes from [those] shows. During Parents’ Weekend, we really just showcase the new [members]. We don’t make much from Parents’ Weekend.”
Bendy said roughly 40 people were turned away from Rhythmic Blue’s combined concert with Yale Steppin’ Out, even though the groups performed two concerts in the hopes of accommodating more attendees. Similarly, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale Glee Club and Yale Concert Band hosted a combined concert, attracting a large crowd in Woolsey Hall.
This fall’s Family Weekend was held two weeks earlier than last year’s, giving performing groups significantly less time to prepare for their performances than they usually have. Bendy said all members of her group had practiced more than 10 hours during the past week in order to make up for lost rehearsal time.
Albert Cao ’18, a violinist in the Yale Symphony Orchestra, said his group had faced similar concerns about rehearsal times. Though the group received a standing ovation at the end of the performance, Cao said he thought many YSO members felt “pinched for time,” and worried that their pieces were “not up to standard.”
Still, all six performers interviewed said the most important part of Family Weekend was being able to share student work with parents.
“One of the best parts of Family Weekend is it allows parents to be a part of the Yale community, even if it is for just a day,” said Allyson Ho ’18, a member of the Yale Gospel Choir.
Family Weekend 2015 was held from Sept. 25 to 27.