World-renowned conductor Marin Alsop on Friday will lead the Yale School of Music’s Philharmonia in Woolsey Hall.
Alsop, who currently serves as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has come to New Haven to conduct two pieces by Leonard Bernstein — “Opening Prayer” and “Chichester Psalms” — as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D major, Op. 125. The performance will also feature the Yale Glee Club and the Yale Camerata.
“It is clear that [Alsop] is familiar with both the Bernstein pieces and the Beethoven,” said violinist Emily Switzer ’17 MUS ’19. “She has a such a specific vision for how she wants these pieces to work.”
Oboist Leonardo Ziporyn MUS ’19 said that in the Beethoven, Alsop has worked on “staying true to what the score says,” and following the tempo markings Beethoven included in the music.
Switzer said that Alsop’s approach to the Beethoven is “lively and precise,” and described the symphony as “monumental” — both for its length and its complexity.
Ziporyn said the piece’s first movement is characterized by “pure energy and rhythmic drive.” The second movement, he said, features a similar sense of rhythmic drive and previews the famous “Ode to Joy” theme that returns in full force in the fourth and final movement of the symphony.
Switzer echoed Ziporyn’s comment about rhythmic drive, noting that especially in the first two movements, there is “always sense of motion” with Alsop on the podium.
“Nothing is ever stagnant,” Switzer said.
Ziporyn said that in the final movement, the darkness of the first movement returns, only to be “completely obliterated by joy.”
The concert will begin with Bernstein’s “Opening Prayer,” featuring baritone Bryan Murray MUS ’18.
Murray said this short piece “starts with a robust, sharp trumpet solo and ends with transcending strings, harp and an old Hebrew prayer.”
This prayer, Murray said, roughly translates to “God will bless you and keep you safe. God will be happy to see you and set you free. God will look toward you and bring you peace. Shalom.”
The program will also feature Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms,” which is scored for orchestra, solo voices and choir. In the third movement of the Bernstein, the composer opens with a gut-wrenching, “borderline painful” string introduction, said Sam Hollister ’18, a member of the Yale Glee Club.
“In Maestra Alsop’s commanding, nearly terrifying gestures to the string section in that moment, she drew a sound from the players like I have never heard before,” Hollister said.
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