On Sunday, Feb. 14, the Davenport Pops Orchestra is set to release a procrastination-themed concert called “DPops meets the Deadline” at 8:30 p.m.
DPops is Yale’s only entirely student-run orchestra and Yale’s only pops orchestra. As a result, the group primarily performs works from popular TV shows, movies and games. Sunday’s concert will feature pieces from “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “Halo” and “Megalovania.”
“As we discussed this topic, it became clear that a lot of [our] music was actually inspired by shows and games that we personally turn to when we don’t want to get our work done,” said Co-Chair of Publicity for DPops Melanie King ’23. “So, we decided to emphasize this funny connection between pushing our deadlines and enjoying music from popular distractions.”
Before the pandemic, DPops presented live concerts semesterly in the Davenport College dining hall, Battell Chapel and Woolsey Hall. Their performances often included visual elements — in the form of live theatrics or video displays — along with the music.
“We try to make our concerts very entertaining,” said Isabel Sands ’21, DPops’ head arranger. “We have theatrics that usually reflect something about the source of whatever music we’re playing.”
This year, despite being unable to film in person due to public health concerns, the DPops board hoped to maintain their distinct audio and visual spirit. Michael Gancz ’22, assistant conductor of DPops, said the group wanted to go beyond the “generic grid-of-Zoom-boxes type performance video.” To do so, they needed a repertoire of strong visual associations that members could easily reference and parody.
“Realizing that we were trapped in cyberspace, we decided to lean into the world on our desktops — Netflix, Steam, Twitch and other pastimes whose popularity has surged because of the pandemic,” Gancz said.
Once DPops settled on their overarching theme, their choice of music became clear. Gancz noted that “Avatar: The Last Airbender” had just been acquired by Netflix, while both “Halo” and “Undertale” had iconic soundtracks and a dedicated fanbase.
According to Gancz, the DPops board convened during the summer to plan a virtual orchestra season including a virtual concert video once it became apparent that this academic year would occur online.
To test their unique audio-visual performance idea, DPops used the summer to compile a short performance inspired by the show “Game of Thrones.” They released that performance in July.
DPops’ music is always arranged and conducted by students. Sands and Gancz arranged the music for Sunday’s concert. Gancz said that arranging a piece of music for DPops includes allotting personalized instructions for each member in a 72-piece orchestra. This requires an intimate knowledge of people’s skill levels and the impact of individual sections within the orchestra.
“It’s involved, but it’s rewarding,” Gancz said.
DPops was founded in 2005.
Marisol Carty | email@example.com