Courtesy of YSO

Tickets for the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s annual Halloween concert sold out in under a minute on Monday night, leading to a burgeoning black market for tickets, with some students reselling them at more than 10 times the original price.

Tickets for the 2021 YSO Halloween Show went on sale on Eventbrite at 10:31 p.m. Yet most students eager to attend the annual Halloween tradition were left empty-handed, as the 2650-capacity Woolsey Hall was restricted to just 275 available seats due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I sat with my friend to purchase tickets right at 10:31, looking at a clock with seconds to ensure we hit the button as soon as it went on sale,” Sarah Shapiro ’25 said. “Unfortunately, despite clicking on it at the same time, I was able to get a ticket and he wasn’t.”

Although the exact amount of seconds before tickets sold out is unknown, Supriya Weiss ’24, YSO president and co-producer of the Halloween show, stated that it “was certainly under a minute.”

“Typically tickets sell out in under 10 minutes — I suppose 10 percent of the capacity meant 10 percent of the time,” Weiss said.

According to Weiss and co-producer Aria Harris ’24, the COVID-19 capacity restriction was assigned to the YSO by Associate Dean for the Arts Kate Krier and the University COVID-19 Review Committee. 

Harris added that the 275-person limit is also applied to the Yale Philharmonia, whose concerts are only open to School of Music affiliates. However, these constraints did not account for the difference in the number of eligible audience members between the YSO and the Philharmonia. 

“Even a 275-person cap would leave enough room for most of the School of Music [to attend Philharmonia concerts] because there just aren’t very many students,” Harris said. “Unfortunately, we have been forced to follow the same guidelines. It’s unfortunate because it’s literally 10 percent of Woolsey Hall, which is really inconsistent with any other guideline given by Yale.”

Krier said that the limit of 275 people, including front-of-house staff, in Woolsey is in place for all users of the concert hall and applies to the School of Music, the Institute of Sacred Music and Yale College ensembles. 

“There are COVID restrictions of various sorts that affect audiences campus-wide,” Krier said. “I am working with partners in other arts units to make proposals to continue to reactivate performance activity on campus. Together with other arts colleagues, I’m in active discussion with student group leaders as well as with the public health and safety group about next steps.”

Entrepreneurial students have taken advantage of the high demand for tickets; there have been reports of people reselling tickets for drastically marked-up prices. Tickets are originally $10.

“In a bunch of the group chats, they’re going for $80 to $120,” said Atticus Margulis-Ohnuma ’25, a YSO violinist. 

Emma Polinsky ’25 added that she suspects the prices are so high because this year is seniors’ final chance to attend the concert, which they could not attend last year due to the pandemic.

Harris said that she “heard from so many seniors who really, really wanted to go but won’t be able to see [the concert] in Woolsey Hall before they leave Yale.” 

She added that within an hour of tickets going on sale, people began posting on Facebook Marketplace, offering to pay $50 to $100 for a ticket, with others offering to sell theirs for $100. Harris said she believes this resale of tickets is undermining the YSO’s effort to make concert tickets equitable. 

“The YSO has made it a mission to make all their tickets free and to lower the price of Halloween show tickets, and all of that is being overridden because the capacity of the hall is so reduced that people are buying tickets for over a hundred dollars,” Harris explained. “I feel that it’s unfortunate that the people who have the means to do so will be able to sit in the hall, whereas the people who don’t won’t be able to.”

According to Weiss, the YSO does not support or endorse the reselling of its tickets and “doesn’t condone the reselling that’s been happening online.” 

Weiss and Harris emphasized that despite in-person capacity limits, the livestream will be available and free to everyone. Though the YSO has livestreamed the Halloween Show previously, viewers were charged a fee. Last year, it offered the livestream for free for the first time as the show took place fully virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We want everyone to be able to have access to music; we don’t want there to be a financial barrier preventing anyone from attending our concerts,” Weiss said.

In light of the limited in-person capacity, Weiss and Harris said they look forward to seeing watch parties organized around campus.

“At the end of the day, all I want is for people to watch the show and to have fun,” Harris said. “A livestream will allow people to have really nice events with their friends. You can watch it with snacks and beverages, which you wouldn’t be able to have if you were in Woolsey Hall. There will be various options for people to organize and watch the show around campus.”

Harris noted that Silliman College plans to livestream the concert in the courtyard, and many FroCos are using their duty nights to put together live streams for their first-years.

“We’re hoping that people can still gather and that this can still be a community activity, even though we won’t all be in the same place,” she said. According to Harris, viewers from all over the world tuned into last year’s livestream of the Halloween show.

Although the hybrid show may be able to reach an audience greater than years prior, Harris said that she is disappointed by the capacity limits. 

“A lot of the magic for the orchestra is playing to a really, really packed, really, really excited audience,” Harris said. “So while it’s great to have a live audience at all, it is disappointing that it won’t be to the extent that it could.”

The YSO opened its season with the “Hope” concert on Oct. 16 — the group’s first in-person performance since 2020. 

“I have to say that after this year and a half of not being able to play at all, even just having a live audience cheering for us was such an incredible experience to return to — so I still think it’s going to be a great time,” Weiss said. “It’s been a real labor of love for [Harris] and I. I think this year will be a spectacular show that is going to surprise people in a lot of ways.”

The concert will be streamed live on the YSO website.

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