Once again, the Yale Philharmonia delivered a well chosen, brilliantly played concert on Friday, under the direction of guest conductor, Jean-Marie Zeitouni. The offerings were all French.
The first half gave us Saint-Saens and Debussy, with the Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah followed by the North American premiere of the Suite from Pelleas et Melisande, arranged by Alain Altinoglu. (The world premiere of this piece took place in 2017 when Altinoglu debuted as Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.) The second half was Berlioz with Symphonie fantastique.
Jean-Marie Zeitouni was the guest conductor for the evening and I don’t think I have ever seen a conductor look like he/she was having as much fun as Mr. Zeitouni was on the night. He leans in, he looks players directly in the eye, he smiles, he exults, he bounces, he reaches forward; he is fun. Mr. Zeitouni, a French Canadian with Parisian grandparents, says, “My type of leadership is a leadership of love.” It shows. Mr. Zeitouni, has an impressive resume for one who certainly seems quite young. (I looked everywhere to try to find his age, but was not successful. When I find it out, I will update.)
This orchestra, as I have mentioned in other articles, is the largest performance ensemble in the Yale School of Music. These are graduate candidates, and they are top notch. I just cannot say enough how lucky we are in New Haven to have this marvelous orchestra, comprised of musicians that will very soon be snatched up by some of our most notable orchestras, right here in our backyard, at ticket prices that do not exceed 15 bucks.