DPops kicks off the season with in-person concert and “mini orchestras”
The Davenport Pops Orchestra is back to an in-person season, bringing innovative ways of abiding by University health guidelines and a Halloween concert that blends music and on-stage performance.
Courtesy of Davenport Pops Orchestra
The Davenport Pops Orchestra, affectionately known as DPops, is back to in-person performances following a pandemic-imposed hiatus.
DPops is Yale’s youngest orchestra and the University’s only pop orchestra, according to the group’s website. Financially supported by Davenport College, it welcomes members from all residential colleges as well as graduate students. Its repertoire consists of a diverse range of genres, including film and television scores, Broadway musicals, jazz tunes, popular classical works and hip-hop charts. The Halloween performance, which took place on Oct. 29 in the Davenport dining hall, began at 9:30 p.m. and ended just past 11 p.m. The concert was live-streamed, with the in-person audience limited to 86.
“The pros and cons of [a limited audience] were that only 86 people could get tickets, so some of my friends couldn’t come,” said Maggie Schnyer ’24, a violinist and the assistant conductor of DPops. “But also the concert tickets were sold in 20-30 seconds, which was crazy and so cool.”
While DPops members returned to in-person rehearsals and concerts this fall, they split into five mini orchestras in order to adhere to campus safety guidelines as the full orchestra exceeded the maximum gathering capacity permitted by University COVID-19 restrictions. These mini orchestras, consisting of 20 students each, rehearse their own program and perform sequentially at concerts.
DPops traditionally kicks off each performance with a theme song from a Disney movie. For the October concert, the orchestra began with the theme from “Coco.” The rest of the repertoire included music from the famous Broadway musical “The Phantom of the Opera,” cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and “Inside” — an adaptation of Bo Burnham’s comedy special that came out earlier this year.
While DPops concerts are typically accompanied by visuals on a projected screen, the Halloween concert consisted of a mix of theatre and on-stage performance. For “The Phantom of the Opera,” two DPops members acted as the main characters, walking in and sitting in the balcony of the dining hall. For the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a few DPops members danced on the stage.
In addition to being split into five mini orchestras, the performers were required to wear slit masks and use bell covers with their instruments. Still, DPops members found this better than last year’s fully virtual orchestra format.
“We were trying our best to get people to remain engaged — we got them to submit the videos of themselves playing, which requires practice,” said Audrey Yeung ’22, DPops director of development and former co-president. “However, when in-person, we get brunch together, chat and then practice — which is more fun. So I’m very glad to have it back in-person together.”
Transferring from online to in-person rehearsals came with its own set of difficulties. According to Yeung, DPops experienced logistical challenges in organizing rehearsals for mini orchestras and making sure each orchestra had an equal distribution of winds, strings, brass and percussion. In addition, DPops also struggled with finding a concert venue as Battell Chapel, the group’s usual performance space, is currently closed. Still, according to Yeung, DPops members were “really glad” to have their concert in the Davenport dining hall.
Despite the difficulties, the concert went “smoother” than Michael Lee ’24, the head of DPops’ audio-video team, expected.
“The whole process was very fluent. It went too good to be true,” Lee said.
DPops’ next concert will take place on Dec. 10 at the Davenport dining hall. DPops is planning to structure the concert around a Christmas holiday theme and include pieces from “Game of Thrones,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” For this concert, DPops will return to performing as one group rather than in small orchestras.
DPops was founded in the spring of 2005 by a group of Davenport College students.