Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 25, 2000Volume 28, Number 22













Orchestra readies itself for its 'biggest events'

When Shinik Hahm became music director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra (YSO) five years ago, he announced his intention to lead the young musicians in the ensemble to grander heights.

Today, he says he couldn't be more proud of the Yale undergraduates who make up the 90-piece orchestra, whose audience has grown significantly since the conductor's first year. In fact, he has so much confidence in the YSO musicians that he is feeling no anxiety about two upcoming back-to-back performances that are among the orchestra's biggest events to date.

On Saturday, Feb. 26, the YSO will perform with internationally renowned pianist Emanuel Ax at 8 p.m. in Woolsey Hall. The pianist will be the soloist in the orchestra's performance of Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1. In addition, the orchestra will be joined by the Yale Camerata for a performance of Brahms' major choral work "A German Requiem."

The following evening, at 7 p.m., the YSO will make its debut at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, where it will repeat its performance of "A German Requiem" with the Yale Camerata, and will share the spotlight with noted violinist Dong Suk Kang, who will be the soloist for Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.

"These events represent some of the most exciting moments for the Yale Symphony Orchestra," says Hahm. "Ax is one of the most brilliant pianists in the world, and we are thrilled that he accepted our invitation to perform in this concert to benefit the YSO. In addition, our performance with the Yale Camerata is a special event: The Camerata has invited alumni of the group to sing in the concert, so the 80-voice choral group will expand to about 150 voices. Our all-Brahms evening at Yale, followed by the YSO/Camerata performance the very next night at Lincoln Center, are wonderful opportunities for us to showcase our strengths."

The YSO has already been rehearsing for Ax's visit, and will practice Brahms' masterpiece concerto with the famous pianist before the concert. Known both for his "poetic lyricism" and his technical skill, Ax is a Sony Classical artist who also performs chamber music with such stars as Richard Stoltzman, Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma. He regularly performs duo recitals with cellist Ma, and their recordings have earned three Grammy Awards.

Ax has a new connection with Yale; his son, Joseph, is a freshman in Morse College, where Hahm is a fellow. The pianist is also a close friend of Leon Plantinga, the Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Music at Yale, who helped arrange Ax's guest appearance with the YSO.

Hahm, who had guest-conducted symphonies all over the world, has no qualms about his orchestra's ability to perform with a musical giant such as Ax. In fact, Hahm says that the YSO is on par with, and even better than, some of the professional orchestras he has seen. He notes that the YSO is made up entirely of undergraduate students, some of whom aspire to be professional musicians but many of whom are non-music majors.

"Our musicians are among the best of their age out there," comments Hahm. "Many have won competitive awards and were accepted to the best music conservatories, but chose to come to Yale for a broader education. Of course, they never have enough practice time, but there's no question that they are very smart."

While the 35-year-old YSO has always attracted some of the most motivated young musicians, Hahm admits that when he first started directing the orchestra, he had to call a number of "outside players" to perform with the group because it did not have enough musicians in certain orchestra sections. Particularly, there were not enough oboists, violists or bass players.

"Now we have extremely competitive string, wind and percussion sections," says Hahm. "More and more people have auditioned for the orchestra each year since I first came, and, as a result, the YSO has become much more balanced."

The conductor has also increased the touring schedule of the group, arranging, for example, a trip to Korea and visits to various New England venues. In addition, the YSO makes an annual appearance in New York City, where its recent engagements have been in St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Riverside Church.

"It is very good for us to tour," says Hahm, "because it is challenging. In our Woolsey Hall concerts, about 80% of our audience members are the same at each concert. They're like family to us, and as is the case with families, we sometimes take each other for granted. Performing for a new audience pushes us to work a bit harder."

The YSO is a financially self-sufficient organization, and thus, it must raise its own funds for touring engagements. Hahm says that the two upcoming concerts will be used to support a YSO trip to Asia.

"That's one of our goals," says the conductor. "Besides that, my plan is for us to perform next year in Carnegie Hall."

Tickets for both the Yale concert on Feb. 26 and the Lincoln Center concert on Feb. 27 are $10-$40; $8 for students. Tickets are available in the Yale Symphony Orchestra office in Rm. 304 of Hendrie Hall, 165 Elm St., or by calling (203) 432-4140.

-- By Susan Gonzalez


Term bill raised by just 2.9%

African-American Studies gains department status

Dean honors music-loving Thai king

Computer hijackers and Napster users are newest Internet threat

Bradley urges support for his 'dream' for the future

Renowned opera diva shares stories of her career at master's tea

Grant supports a collaborative library project on digital books

Law students revive New Haven Cares voucher program

Orchestra readies itself for its 'biggest events'

Staged reading weaves a story about a vilified play

Playwriting festival will showcase new works by drama students

Economic development is focus of conference

Historian John Blassingame, pioneer in study of slavery, dies

Virtuoso oboist and composer Ronald Roseman dies

Educators will gather at Yale-hosted conference on social studies teaching

NASA grants awarded for space research

Concert will feature works by prize-winning composer

Sports Scoreboard

In the News

Bulletin Home|Visiting on Campus| Calendar of Events|Bulletin Board

Classified Ads|Search Archives|Production Schedule|Bulletin Staff

Public Affairs Home|News Releases| E-Mail Us|Yale Home Page