This weekend, three musical groups with a common member — Emery Kerekes ’21 — will stage performances across campus.
From Thursday to Saturday, the Opera Theatre of Yale College will present “Patience” in the Off-Broadway Theater, and on Saturday evening, the Yale Symphony Orchestra and Yale Glee Club will host a joint concert called “Heavenly Bodies.” Kerekes is the artistic director of both OTYC and the Yale Undergraduate Chamber Orchestra. He is a bass and student conductor in the Glee Club, and plays cello in the Yale Symphony Orchestra. He also sings at New Haven’s Christ Church and in graduate student concerts.
“I get dizzy just thinking about the amount of time, energy and talent Emery has contributed to the musical life of Yale College,” said Jeffrey Douma, who is the director of the Yale Glee Club. “He has a really bright future ahead of him in the music world, and I am so grateful for his contribution to the Glee Club both as a singer and as a conductor.”
Kerekes said he had been interested in conducting for a long time because it necessitates collaboration with other musicians. According to Kerekes, conducting requires “reacting to and shaping the musical cues from members in an ensemble,” and group performance is “as much about bettering the whole as it is about bettering yourself.”
“It’s all about learning on the job,” Kerekes said. “The only way to truly refine the conducting is by having an ensemble to practice on and to see what works and what doesn’t during rehearsal.”
Kerekes said he is interested in projects that “fill in the gaps” of Yale’s undergraduate music community.
According to Kerekes, YUCO is the only undergraduate instrumental group actively commissioning and workshopping works by undergraduate composers — what he considers a huge gap in campus music culture. Similarly, OTYC is the only organization in which undergraduates of all backgrounds are able to try opera. Kerekes said the group hopes to introduce talented student singers to the art form and show them how fun and accessible it can be.
In his first year, Kerekes founded the Berkeley-Saybrook Chamber Players and still serves as the group’s artistic director. The group accepts all students, regardless of prior skill, places them into groups based on experience level, and assigns each group student coaches.
Kerekes said he has learned from every student he has worked with.
“That is the important thing about being a musician at Yale — there’s such a great infrastructure for students to put on their own things, so I feel like I’m getting two different levels of education,” Kerekes said.
Kerekes said he does not see himself performing or conducting music professionally in the future but would like to do something to “help make classical music more relevant to our generation.”
“My thing has always been getting people excited about what I’m excited about,” Kerekes said — and he hopes to achieve this through writing.
Kerekes writes for the magazine “Opera News,” published by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and also maintains his own music review site: theclassicalmusicgeek.com. During the summer of 2019, he saw and reviewed 50 concerts in the website’s inaugural project.
Sarah Grube ’22 — who sings in the Glee Club and the OTYC and will appear in both “Patience” and “Heavenly Bodies” this weekend — said that Kerekes is able to see a piece of music from all sides.
Grube said Kerekes understands both the singing and acting elements of opera and knows how to mesh those two things together, which she called the “crux of opera.”
Grube added that Kerekes, other than having a “complete understanding” of music, is skilled at being a member of an ensemble and lifting up other members of a team when they are struggling.
“He really thinks deeply about the accessibility of classical music, and how to make sure we keep these spaces open so that people who don’t have a lot of experience can still come in and have an enjoyable experience, and feel like they’re really part of something,” Grube said. “That’s so critical because the world of classical music can often feel like a clique — and Emery has never been someone to perpetuate that.”
Kerekes is a double major in music and linguistics.
Carrie Zhou | firstname.lastname@example.org