Yale is fortunate enough to have two excellent, full-sized orchestras; The Yale Symphony and The Yale Philharmonia. The Yale Symphony is the largest performance group in the Yale Department of Music, which is an undergraduate department, while the Yale Philharmonia is the largest performance group in the Yale School of Music, which is a graduate school.
Yale Philharmonia at Woolsey Hall
The Yale Philharmonia performed their first concert of the 2018-2019 season this past Friday, and delivered a beautiful performance with the help of the Yale Glee Club. This orchestra is so excellent, that, as usual, I had to remind myself that they are students.
The orchestra is under the direction of Peter Oundjian, who began his affiliation with Yale in 1981 as a professor in the Yale School of Music. He still teaches there in an adjunct professorship. Oundjian, who was born in Canada, but educated mostly in England, is the first cousin of Monty Python alum, Eric Idle, and seems to share a similar impishness and sense of humor. You can tell he absolutely loves what he is doing, and he is delightful to watch. Mr, Oundjian was at one time the first violinist for the highly regarded, Tokyo String Quartet and has just stepped down from his position as Music Director of the Toronto Symphony where, under his guidance, the orchestra made significant advances, both artistically and financially since he began in 2004. He brings the same vision and energy to this orchestra, and, like a good educator, he makes certain that the ensemble is duly applauded, as he points to EVERY soloist and asks them to stand and take a bow.
Shakespeare was the theme of the program, and it started with Berlioz’s Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, and then the Yale Glee Club joined in with Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Serenade to Music with a text from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The second half of the concert was all Prokofiev, with selections from Romeo and Juliet. While ideally, this should be performed as a ballet, this music is magical, and can stand on its own as a concert piece, and it certainly did in this performance.
This weekend (Oct.5-7th) is Family Weekend at Yale, and the three music performance groups in the undergraduate division (The Symphony Orchestra, the Glee Club, and the Concert Band) will present a FREE concert at Woolsey Hall on Saturday the 6th at 7:30.