Courtesy of Samhitha Josyula and Erin Nishi

The Yale Symphony Orchestra is set to present its third concert of the season, “Fantasy,” in Woolsey Hall at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday.

The concert will feature Valerie Coleman’s “Seven O’Clock Shout,” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Overture to The Magic Flute,” Emmanuel Séjourné’s “Marimba Concerto” and Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.” Percussionist Alvin Chung ’22, winner of the 2020 William Waite Concerto Competition, will be featured as a soloist on the Séjourné piece. 

The pieces in Saturday’s program are connected by a common theme of “fantasy, love and dreaming,” according to William Boughton, associate professor of music and YSO director. 

“Seven O’Clock Shout”’ was initially intended to be performed at YSO’s first concert of the season, “Hope,” but it was moved to this program due to COVID-19 restrictions. The piece, which was composed last year, is a response to the nightly applause from New York City residents at 7 p.m. that began last March as a way to honor health care and essential workers. According to Boughton, it is about “love and thankfulness for what the health workers have been doing for us during COVID-19.” 

Chung was one of two winners of the 2020 William Waite Concerto Competition. Chung, who was the third marimbist to win the competition in its more than 50 years of running, was initially slated to perform the piece last spring. The original performance was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. This concert will be his first solo performance with the orchestra since he arrived at Yale. 

In preparation for the performance, Paris-based composer Séjourné spent a Zoom session with Chung and YSO members discussing his composition. 

“It was great to be able to hear directly from the person who wrote the music about how I should interpret certain parts of the repertoire,” Chung said. Composed in 2006, Séjourné’s concerto is among the most widely performed marimba solo repertoire in the world. 

“From the percussionist’s perspective, I hope people can see the more musical and vibrant side of percussion,” Chung said. “It’s pretty cool that people get to see the marimba at the front and center of action.” 

The concert will conclude with a performance of Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.” This piece was inspired by the composer’s fraught love affair with Shakespearean actress Harriet Symthson, and it recounts a dream in which Berlioz kills his loved one. 

“The whole symphony is based on his enormous love for her and the dream,” Boughton said. “The challenge for orchestras is becoming actors and telling the story so that you’re not just playing the notes on the page, but actually living the story.” 

YSO rehearsed Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” over Zoom last year while the orchestra was working remotely. The orchestra’s intention was always to perform the piece live once COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. 

YSO president and flutist Supriya Weiss ’24 explained that last fall, when YSO could not rehearse in person, each instrumental section routinely met via Zoom to study the Berlioz piece. 

Due to University COVID-19 restrictions, the live audience will be capped at 275 people. Tickets for the concert, which were free, sold out within an hour, according to YSO manager Brian Robinson. Students who were unable to acquire tickets to the live performance can watch the concert via livestream on the YSO website. The livestream typically sees 1,200-1,500 viewers, Boughton said. 

“Because the tickets are free, more students are attending, which is wonderful,” Boughton said. “For students to experience this great music whilst they’re at university is all part of their education and building up their knowledge and understanding of art.” 

YSO’s fourth concert of the season, “The Age of Anxiety,” is scheduled for Feb. 19, 2022. 

ELIZABETH DEJANIKUS
INES CHOMNALEZ