During most nights of the year, Woolsey Hall’s 2,650 seats remain unoccupied. But the Yale Symphony Orchestra will likely be playing to a full house Monday night for its annual Halloween Show.
As in past years, the Halloween Show will feature a student-directed silent film with the orchestra accompanying with both classical and pop music. But while in past years the event has been a largely YSO-organized affair, this year marks the first time that the orchestra has invited non-YSO students to write the film’s plot and script. After soliciting student ideas, the YSO chose the concept — kept a secret until the performance — of Film and Media Studies major Connor Szostak ’17.
This year’s film will be a comedic parody of a recent popular movie, with some romance sprinkled in, said YSO French horn player Morgan Jackson ’18. Jackson directed this year’s Halloween Show film and compiled the accompanying orchestral music.
“This is the first year in which we’ve had a separate editor and director of photography,” Jackson said. “This let us spend much more time on each scene to make it better, and means that we don’t have a frantic rush job at the end as in past years.”
Because Halloween 2016 falls on a Monday, rather than on a Friday or Saturday as in the past two years, ticket demand for the show was lower this year. Tickets sold out this year in 10 minutes, which Jackson described as a “slowdown” compared to previous years. A policy limiting one ticket per person also slowed demand, Jackson said. In previous years, people were able to purchase more than one ticket per order.
Ticket sales went live at 10:31 p.m. this fall, a shift from midnight in past years, in an effort to make tickets more accessible for students who did not want to stay up late.
The show will consist of 28 musical pieces, three-fourths of which will come from the classical tradition and one-fourth from contemporary pop music, all adapted by YSO students. Jackson said the pop segments will play important roles at key moments in the film.
“I think it’s so ironic and funny for a full orchestra to be playing pop music,” said YSO bassist Arvind Venkataraman ’19. “Especially for us bassists, we usually have really subdued lines in classical music, but in these pop pieces, we have lines that are usually for the electric bass guitar and are really driving and almost like rock music.”
For members of the orchestra, the idea of performing in front of a full Woolsey Hall never loses its appeal, no matter how many times they have done it before.
“The Halloween Show is so awesome, because when else are you going to have thousands of people screaming at you as a classical musician?” said principal percussionist Adrian Lin ’18. “We as an orchestra definitely feed off of the energy of the audience — in our minds it gives us a glimpse of what it is like to be a rock star for a few moments.”
For students who were unable to purchase Halloween Show tickets this year, the show will be streamed live online with a link on the YSO website.
Student musicians said the Halloween Show attests to the value that the whole undergraduate body places on performing arts.
“I don’t think you can find any other college where people want to go to a concert on a Halloween night,” assistant concertmistress Annabel Chyung ’19 said.
The orchestra will rehearse three times before the final show — on Friday, the orchestra will learn their music for the first time, and then on Sunday and Monday they will practice matching the musical performance to the screenplay.
This year’s Halloween show was produced with a budget of roughly $500 over eight weeks.