YSO Prepares To Introduce Love Of Music Through Storytelling

On October 1, the Yale Symphony Orchestra will hold its first concert of the 2022-2023 school year.


Collaborating journalist


Courtesy of the Yale Symphony Orchestra

The opening show of the Yale Symphony Orchestra calendar, “The Passage of Time” concert is a musical storytelling performance that explores time and memory through three unique pieces.

On Saturday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Woolsey Hall, YSO will perform Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphonies for Wind Instruments”, Paul Reale’s “Concerto for Cello, Strings and Percussion” and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” .

“I think all of these pieces are tied together, at least in our minds, by a sense of anticipation and excitement,” cellist Spencer Adler ’24 told The News. “I’ve been in the orchestra for over three years at this point, and there hasn’t been this level of both musicality and excitement to play since my very first gig in the fall of 2019.”

According to YSO Programming Chairman Noah Lee ’25, who leads the committee responsible for choosing the themes and repertoires for this year’s concerts, the centerpiece of this concert is the orchestra-wide piece, “Scheherazade”.

‘Scheherazade’ is a large four-movement work lasting 45-50 minutes,” Lee said. “It’s one of the pinnacles of the romantic orchestral repertoire. represent Scheherazade herself, and these solos are scattered throughout the piece.

Based on the collection of tales, “One Thousand and One Nights”, “Scheherazade” shares its name with the main female protagonist of the collection. In the tales, Scheherazade tries to survive and please the king by telling him stories for each of the 1,001 nights.

Lee explained that this story acts as a musical guide for the musicians’ playing.

“There’s a lot of emotion attached to each of the stories that Scheherazade tells and that emotion, which is almost driven by the desperation to stay alive in the story, because Scheherazade is very important,” Lee said. “The way the audience members play has to be very sincere.”

Adler explained the importance of each section taking on a voice or character, alternating which instrument holds the narrative of the story throughout the piece.

“Rimsky-Korsakov is truly a master orchestrator,” Adler said. “In this piece, you’ll be able to hear the solos and the melodies being transmitted…between each of the different instruments and it really showcases what I think is an exceptionally talented group of musicians, which is really exciting, and I think that tells the story of Scheherazade in her bravery and cunning in a truly powerful way.

In addition to “Scheherazadethe “Passage of Time” concert includes Paul Reale’s “Concerto for Cello, Strings and Percussion,” a piece commissioned for the YSO that will be recorded by classical music label, NAXOS Records. The YSO will record this concerto in memory of Paul Reale, Yale School of Music friend Dean Blocker, who recently passed away.

The last piece, “Symphonies d’instruments à vent” by Stravinsky, also represents a musical dedication to Claude Debussy, a French composer who died in 1918. For Lee, this piece is one of the favorites of the three.

“It’s from Stravinsky’s neoclassical period, often neglected compared to his three famous ballets in terms of orchestral music. There is a simplicity but an elegance, while still maintaining its own tone voice,” Lee said.

The concert is the first of this year, and for many in the YSO, their first concert at Yale. Cellist Kira Wang ’26 expressed her excitement for her first performance and described her experience adapting to the new musical environment.

“One of the tracks we play, we had two rehearsals, which seems very strange to me because in other orchestras, we would have at least seven to eight rehearsals on each track,” Wang said. “[The YSO] is much faster.

In addition to adapting newcomers to the orchestra, a challenge the YSO faces is the induction of certain violinists-turned-violists. According to Victoria Lu ’24, who is also playing YSO for the first time, the viola section has many musicians who have recently learned to play.

“I think the viola section is quite unique because there are four people who just started learning viola, including me, because there was a deficit of viola players,” Lu said.

“Viola section leaders have a unique challenge both in making their section cohesive, but also in teaching new players how to fit into the musical style.”

According to Adler, this concert represents the first performance of newly joined YSO members with veteran YSO musicians, so these challenges are to be expected.

When asked what she wanted audiences to take away from her first concert, Wang emphasized her desire to make listeners fall in love with classical music and appreciate its storytelling qualities.

“One thing that can make classical music more exciting for people, or those who haven’t listened to classical music as much, is the amount of history behind the music we listen to,” Wang said.

Woolsey Hall is located at 500 College St.