The Yale Philharmonia will perform a concert in Sprague Hall featuring percussionist Ji Su Jung MUS ’20 on Friday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

The Yale Philharmonia is the School of Music’s orchestra. The concert program includes Sergei Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony, Op. 25, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts’ Marimba Concerto and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No.2 in D Major, Op. 36. According to Ryan Tani MUS ‘21, who will conduct Friday’s concert, these pieces engage with and respond to the Classical period — an era of music roughly between 1730 and 1820.

“I thought this program was actually very interesting,” Tani said. “You get 100-year gaps between the Beethoven, the Prokofiev and the Puts, but they’re all related to the Classical style.”

Tani added that “the strongest web of connection actually is that all the pieces on the program are extraordinarily joyful.”

Beethoven wrote Symphony No.2 while contemplating suicide upon losing his hearing, yet the piece is incredibly joyful. The finale of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony only uses major chords and has a playful, joking tone. Tani said that Puts uses the orchestra “coloristically,” and uses expansive phrases that evoke a “sunrise.”

Jung, who has been playing marimba since kindergarten, is featured as an artist diploma (A.D.) candidate. The School of Music’s A.D. program is a selective program for artists who demonstrate potential for a major concert career. Jung initially performed the Puts piece years ago while working with Puts himself at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and chose it for this concert because it fits the setting and orchestra.

Puts is a present-day composer whose work has been described by the New York Times as “captivating from the start.”

Jung said that she thinks Puts’ concerto is more “ensemble-feeling” and engaging than other concertos she has performed.

“Pretty much everything is conversational,” Jung said. “Puts is writing a lot of vocal music and operas, so you can tell when you listen to it how much he likes music and how much he likes vocalizing.”

Orchestral performances featuring marimba are uncommon at the School of Music. Jung said audience members often approach her after concerts to say they have never heard music like the kind she performs.

“Marimba is a very unique instrument, it’s a beautiful sound and the capacity of that instrument is very big,” Jung said. “You can enjoy so much music when you listen to it.”

Tani said that Jung is an “incredibly coloristic performer,” which works well with Puts’ composition because he “orchestrates the piece to complement the colors of the marimba.”

This is Tani’s debut performance with the Yale Philharmonia. He expressed that he is excited because the Philharmonia is “an extraordinary group of musicians that have such great ideas about the music. They bring energy and we’re coming together and creating something. It’s always very interesting to step in front of a new ensemble because of the energy that they get and you give them.”

Tani said that all ensembles respond in different ways, but what he found unique about the Philharmonia is the broad interests of all the musicians.

“From the aspiring violin soloist to the chamber music enthusiast to the new music approach, everybody kind of brings their own life to the rehearsal room,” Tani said. “As students, we’re all at the same time trying to explore our own musicality, and as a result, I think that everybody approaches the concert cycle with an amount of curiosity and a desire to learn ideas that one doesn’t always get in professional settings.”

 

Marisol Carty | marisol.carty@yale.edu