This Saturday evening, the Yale Symphony Orchestra will host its final concert of the year, featuring 81 students and internationally renowned pianists Peter Frankl and Eva Virsik.
The orchestra will play Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 10. Orchestra members hailed the repertoire as both exciting to play and requiring more effort than usual because of the guest artists and the large number of people involved. The last pianist invited to perform with the YSO was Boris Berman, current head of the Yale School of Music piano department, for the orchestra’s most recent concert.
“Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 is a huge, spectacular piece. It is rarely performed in university orchestras because it requires such heavy instrumentation,” said Cindy Xue ’17, president of the YSO. “I’m really excited to perform the symphony for the Yale community as it will be the last concert of our season, and my last concert as a senior.”
Mahler’s fifth symphony was composed between 1901 and 1902, and is made for large symphony orchestras including 13 woodwind instruments and 14 brass instruments. Charles Comiter ’20, a snare drum player in the YSO, said Mahler is one of his favorite composers, describing him as the “Kendrick Lamar” of orchestral music.
Similarly, YSO co-concertmaster Emily Switzer ’17 said playing Mahler with the YSO is “always a thrill.”
Frankl, a piano professor at the Yale School of Music, specializes in music from the classical period, especially Mozart, and studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. Frankl will be joined by Virsik for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 10 for two pianos, the latter of whom is a Steinway Artist and whose previous concert locations include New York, Germany, Austria and France.
Jacob Sweet ’18, YSO publicity officer and a clarinetist in the orchestra, described Mahler’s symphony as one of the most important pieces of orchestral music. Yale Symphony Orchestra conductor Toshiyuki Shimada is a huge fan of Mahler, he said, and the performance will be a “spectacle” due to the large number of people required to be onstage performing the piece.
“We’ve tried to raise enthusiasm for the concert via a Cross Campus photo campaign and a chamber music flash mob this Thursday and Friday,” Switzer said. “Within the orchestra we’ve held a ‘10 days of Mahler’ event in which we play one of Mahler’s 10 symphonies each night in the days leading up to the concert.”
Sweet said the chamber music flash mob will be held on Cross Campus both days. He added that the “10 days of Mahler” event will be held in suites and common rooms across campus, where orchestra members and friends will be invited to listen to each of the symphonies.
But despite the festivities, the concert still retains a hint of sadness. Xue said this concert will likely be Frankl’s last performance at Yale before he retires from the Yale School of Music at the end of this academic year. Frankl has been a member of the Yale School of Music faculty since 1987.
“I’m super stoked, our conductor is doing great and our section leader Adrian Lin ’18 is acting as valiantly as ever,” Comiter said. “Still, preparation is a lot more work-heavy than usual concerts.”
On May 19, the YSO will hold its Commencement concert to recognize graduating YSO seniors. The orchestra will perform works by Samuel Barber, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.