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The Yale Symphony Orchestra in 2014

The Yale Symphony Orchestra is a symphony orchestra at Yale University which performs in Yale's Woolsey Hall and tours internationally and domestically. The present Music Director is Toshiyuki Shimada.



The Yale Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1965 by a small group of Yale students who sensed the need for an ensemble devoted to the performance of orchestral repertoire. It developed from Yale's Calhoun College Chamber Music Orchestra when three of its members sought to expand the orchestra to provide an opportunity for larger-scale orchestral performances.

In its first campus-wide incarnation, the Yale Symphony Orchestra was known as the Yale Symphonic Society. It was originally composed of both undergraduates and graduate students from the Yale School of Music, in contrast to its primarily undergraduate population today. By 1967, the campus had begun to refer to the Yale Symphonic Society as the Yale Symphony Orchestra instead, and the orchestra had instated Richmond Browne as its first permanent conductor.

The following years saw growth for the orchestra as former undergraduate and then-graduate student John Mauceri '67 replaced Browne as conductor in the fall of 1968. Mauceri's adventurous programming helped the orchestra expand its membership and its popularity on campus. In 1971, the orchestra traveled to France for its first international tour; domestic and international tours have continued to the present day.

The Yale Symphony Orchestra todayEdit

The membership of today's Yale Symphony Orchestra is composed primarily of undergraduates, who audition in early September and are "tapped," a scaled-down version of the selection of a cappella groups, shortly thereafter. Yale Symphony Orchestra rehearsals take place twice a week for two and a half hours in Woolsey Hall. The orchestra performs five regular concerts per season, with programming varying from the traditional (Beethoven's Symphony no. 6) to the adventurous (Ligeti's Apparitions).

The Halloween Show has become a campus-wide tradition. The orchestra spends the months before Halloween shooting and editing a silent film, which they screen at 11:59 p.m. on October 31 in Woolsey Hall. The orchestra plays a soundtrack with selections ranging from repertoire staples to arrangements of pop songs. Cameo appearances in the films have included actors Sarah Jessica Parker and James Franco, singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, and politicians John Kerry and John McCain.[1]

On March 31, 2007, the Yale Symphony Orchestra became the first undergraduate orchestra to perform as the featured orchestra in Video Games Live.


The following conductors have served as Music Directors of the Yale Symphony Orchestra:


Throughout its history, the Yale Symphony Orchestra has performed new music as well as staples of orchestral repertoire. Examples of some notable world and regional premieres are:

Alumni and SoloistsEdit


  1. ^ "Yale Arts Calendar: YSO Halloween Show Screening". Yale University. Retrieved 21 October 2013.

Yale Symphony Orchestra: Our History, retrieved 2007-02-19

External linksEdit