Keshav Raghavan

Yale’s family weekend ended on a high note last Sunday with the Berkeley College Orchestra’s 41st season opener.

The orchestra returned to Battell Chapel at 4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, with a program featuring works from Beethoven, Schubert and Dvořák. The performance concluded at 6 p.m. with the triumphant Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9: “From the New World.” More than 175 people attended the concert, with many families visible in the crowd among the usual mix of students.

The orchestra began with the Beethoven overture, “Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus,” a full-length ballet by Beethoven. The overture is a bright and hopeful piece whose levity inspired the rest of the evening’s music.

Next came Schubert’s unfinished Symphony No. 8, which ranges from the delicate and precise to the sweeping and grand. Daniel Rudin ’19, the Berkeley College Orchestra’s music director, co-conducted orchestra on Sunday.

“In the selection of the pieces, we wanted to do something that really honored what we anticipated being the size of the new orchestra this year,” Rudin said. “We thought ‘New World’ was just the piece to do it. We want to get a lot of people really excited to play and a lot of people really excited to hear it.”

The orchestra captured the attention of the audience, which seemed delighted during the performance. At the conclusion, the orchestra was met with standing ovations. Audience members said there was a strong sense of community in the crowd: Many knew the performers personally, and some students also attended the show with their families.

“I came to support my roommate Lynn, and she did an amazing job,” Kelsey Evans ’21 said. “I’m really happy for them because I know she’s always practicing on Sundays from three to five.”

The orchestra was conducted by Rudin along with assistant conductors Ian Niederhoffer ’19 and Bradford Case ’20. Niederhoffer, a veteran student conductor, also conducted the Yale Symphony Orchestra for one piece, during its opening concert in September. Niederhoffer also serves as the YSO’s student assistant conductor.

Hector Hernandez, co-president of the orchestra, told the News that this concert was Niederhoffer’s last with the orchestra. The orchestra held auditions for the role this past fall and selected Case to succeed Niederhoffer as assistant conductor.

The Berkeley College Orchestra was founded in 1976 and has grown over the years. Alex Brod, co-president of the orchestra, explained the history of the BCO.

“It started out as the Berkeley Chamber Players, which was just a small group of musicians from Berkeley College, and then slowly over the years it expanded to a much larger orchestra with members of the undergraduate class, graduate schools and also faculty,” Brod said.

The full-piece orchestra’s roster features 60 members this year and holds weekly Sunday rehearsals. This year’s orchestra was finalized after auditions conducted on Labor Day, before classes began.

The BCO will perform twice more this year, once in February and once in April.

Keshav Raghavan | keshav.raghavan@yale.edu