Kamini Purushothaman, Contributing Photographer

On Friday, Dec. 1, Battell Chapel reverberated with sounds from “Cinema Paradiso,” “The Little Mermaid,” Deltarune and Taylor Swift’s discography. At 9:30 p.m., students filled the pews of the chapel for Davenport Pops Orchestra’s second concert of the semester. The group — Yale’s only pop music-oriented orchestra — is entirely student-run.

Titled “With D’Love, From DPops,” the performance rang in the holiday season with a vibrant array of love-themed music. 

“I think this concert was really thought out,” said Helen Zhou ’25, the orchestra’s co-president. “Some of the pieces have been in the works since last year, and everything just fell together.”

The orchestra had six total rehearsals in preparation for this performance, and each concert cycle usually involves 12 to 15 hours of rehearsal time with the entire orchestra. Aside from that, the orchestra’s musicians practice alone and in sectionals, working on distinct portions of each song. During board meetings, involved members discuss logistics and thematic ideas before finding ways to incorporate creative elements into the show.

According to the orchestra’s other co-president, Eric Gan ’25, “Theatrics have been a big part of DPops since we joined. We occupy a very particular niche in the musical community here.”

On Friday night, theatrics were on full display. When the orchestra played music from the video game Stardew Valley, members held up placards with emotes from the game. During their section of Taylor Swift’s music, the orchestra’s conductor, Elias Gilbert ’24, dressed in an outfit resembling the one she wears on the album cover of ‘Folklore.’ Posters mimicking those featured in Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” music video were used. Adam McPhail ’25, who is the principal percussionist and also a SciTech editor for the News, donned a red jersey in his impression of Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce, who is dating Swift.

The music for the show was chosen from work arranged by students in the orchestra. Usually, the leaders take music arranged from the past year for concerts, identifying potential themes as they sort through their peers’ arrangements. They find this method preferable to identifying a theme early on because they want to encourage students to have full creative liberty in their arrangements.

For Gan and Zhou, the bulk of preparations involve ensuring that the concerts run smoothly. While the composers make up the musical side of leadership, they focus on administration. This includes securing funding, reserving venues, liaising with undergraduate production and set breakdown. The two co-presidents became close during their sophomore year at Yale, and they said they enjoy working together to organize concerts. These efforts, which they affectionately referred to as “grunt work,” made for a seamless performance on Friday.

“Feel free to get up and sing along if you’d like,” said Gilbert as he introduced the concert and emphasized DPops’ differences from traditional orchestra etiquette. 

Throughout the concert, the audience eagerly applauded, joined in with vocals and cheered for their friends.

During the orchestra’s delivery of the Eras Medley, particularly, attendees were zealous in their participation. The show ended with a surprise: following their performance of “Anti-Hero,” the group ended with Swift’s iconic country hit “Love Story,” prompting an ardent audience reaction within the first few notes.

One attendee, Keenan Mendoza ’27, said, “My heart was so warm because of the show. It was a great way to start the month of December.” 

Lauding the orchestra’s renditions of Taylor Swift songs, he joked that he started “levitating” when he heard their take on “Lover.” 

According to Gan and Zhou, what makes Dpops unique is the commitment of its composers, arrangers and musicians along with the board’s enthusiasm. 

“DPops as a whole is very laid back and really fun,” Zhou said. “I think the reason we’re able to work so well is because everyone’s so dedicated.” 

DPops was founded in 2005.

Kamini Purushothaman covers Arts and New Haven. A first-year student in Trumbull College, she is majoring in History.