Courtesy of Miriam Viazmenski

Usually, the stage during orchestral performances in Woolsey Hall is occupied by either the Yale Symphony Orchestra or the Yale Philharmonia. 

But on Tuesday evening, Fabio Luisi, music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, stood facing Woolsey’s Newberry Organ, leading the acclaimed professional orchestra with neither music nor baton. He danced across the podium, coaxing the music out of the musicians.

“It was one of those rare moments when an orchestra transcends the collaborative efforts of its musicians and speaks as a single entity, projecting its own artistic voice,” said Miranda Werner MUS ’24. 

As part of their first tour in a decade, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra appeared in Woolsey Hall on Tuesday for the first time, performing DSO composer-in-residence Angelica Negrón’s “What Keeps Me Awake” and Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony in E minor.

“Professional orchestras don’t often come to Woolsey Hall,” said Atticus Margulis-Ohnuma ’25, a member of the Yale Symphony Orchestra. “Having played in Woolsey Hall, I know how hard it is to hear in the space, which made the DSO’s performance all the more impressive—I was struck by the sonic unity of the string sections and the tone and color of the brass.”

Following performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Symphony Hall, the DSO’s performance in Woolsey Hall was the third and last performance of their east coast tour.

“It’s so special to be able to perform at Woolsey, especially knowing how many students are going to be at the concert,” said Katie McGuinness, the vice president of artistic operations at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

McGuinness said that the DSO performed at Woolsey Hall primarily because of its strong relationship with Peter Oundjian, the principal conductor of the Yale Philharmonia. Oundjian has conducted subscription concerts with the DSO before.

In addition, a large number of DSO musicians are also alumni at Yale, said McGuinness. Principal cellist Christopher Adkins, who graduated from the Yale School of Music in 1984 and has performed in Woolsey “innumerable times,” mentioned how special it was to return after nearly 40 years.

“Woolsey Hall has this warm, welcoming tone — it was like returning to a familiar friend,” he said.

Before the performance, principal players in the Dallas Symphony participated in a side-by-side rehearsal with musicians in the Yale Philharmonia and conducted by Oundjian, where the Dallas Symphony musicians “got to pass on decades of hard-accumulated wisdom” to the students, said Adkins.

“It was a thrilling and illuminating experience. It’s not every day that you get to work alongside professional orchestral musicians,” said Werner, a violinist in the Yale Philharmonia. 

To Adkins, participating in a side-by-side under Oundjian at Yale was a “full circle moment”— Oundjian’s very first coaching at Yale 38 years ago was with a string quartet composed of Adkins and three fellow School of Music students, he said.

Margulis-Ohnuma hopes that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s appearance at Yale “will pave the road for more professional orchestra concerts in the future.”

The concert was open to the public for free.

Tobias Liu covers the School of Music and the undergraduate music scene. He is a sophomore in Trumbull College from Johns Creek, Georgia majoring in Economics and Molecular Biology.