On Sunday, Nov. 4, the Yale Undergraduate Chamber Orchestra performed a concert of music inspired by the theme of childhood before an audience of Yale students and families from the New Haven community.
The concert, which took place in Battell Chapel, featured “Siegfried Idyll” by Wagner, the premiere of “Recreation” by Daniel Rudin ’20 and “Peter and the Wolf” by Prokofiev. The concert also functioned as the senior project for YUCO’s music director and co-founder Ian Niederhoffer ’19.
“I had been thinking a lot about programming as a concept lately, and I realized what a tremendous responsibility it is to choose the music people hear,” Niederhoffer said. “I realized how grateful I am that I was introduced to music like ‘Peter and the Wolf’ at such an early age — the music we listen to as children is incredibly important because it forms us not only as musicians, but as people.”
Niederhoffer chose repertoire addressing themes related to childhood. Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” was named in honor of the composer’s son and composed as a birthday present for his wife, Cosima. Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” a symphonic fairy tale, requires a narrator to tell a children’s tale with orchestral accompaniment. At Sunday’s concert, Pierson Head of College Stephen Davis read the narration.
Niederhoffer said that he had wanted to feature the Wagner piece at multiple past YUCO concerts. Yet he said that the work best suited this fall’s concert due to its thematic connection to “Peter and the Wolf.” Niederhoffer described the two pieces as “a perfect match.”
“[These are] two pieces about children, each espousing very different hopes and dreams for the next generation,” Niederhoffer said. “Once we had those two pieces, I reached out to Dan Rudin, a wonderful musician and friend, and we talked about this idea of children’s music, which he incorporated into his piece.”
Rudin’s piece incorporated moments throughout the score in which the musicians used their instruments in unconventional ways. For example, the beginning and end of the piece incorporated brass and woodwind players blowing air through their instruments without mouthpieces — a technique that produced a whooshing sound without pitch.
Jonathan Jalbert ’22, a musician in YUCO, noted that using “new techniques to make uncommon sounds” is an exciting experience.
“‘Recreation’ was full of those extended techniques, which made for some brilliant textures,” Jalbert said.
Rudin said that “Recreation” allowed him to musically express his ideas about what generations provide to their children. Rudin added that his primary goal in composing is to create a “cohesive and compelling” musical experience.
Niederhoffer, a member of Pierson College, invited his Head of College to narrate “Peter and the Wolf” after hearing Davis speak publicly on multiple occasions.
Davis said that the concert went well and that he was grateful for all of the support from the numerous Pierson College students in the audience.
“Going into the performance, to be honest, I was nervous because I wanted to get it right for Ian,” said Davis. “‘Peter and the Wolf’ is a complex, but brilliant and beautiful piece, and it was great to see so many kids in the audience for the performance.”
Davis added that seeing and hearing the musical talent of his students was an affirming and enjoyable experience. He noted that he is pleased to have “made it through without causing a catastrophe.”
Niederhoffer echoed Davis’ enthusiasm regarding the large number of children present in the audience.
“My greatest joy from the whole experience came immediately after the concert when an entourage of children came up to explore the percussion section,” Niederhoffer said. “I am so thankful I had the chance to experience this music at such a young age, and it was so rewarding to be able to pay it forward.”
YUCO, which was founded in 2016, will perform 20th-century American composer George Walker’s “Lyric for Strings” in April.
Rianna Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org .