The YSO Legacy - 1970-1975


YSO Embarks on its First International Tour

Featuring an ambitious program including Ives Symphony No. 4, Debussy “Khamma,” and Scriabin’s “Prometheus, Poem of Fire,” the Yale Symphony Orchestra embarked on a three city tour of France, beginning a fifty year tradition of international touring that continues to this day.

“I believe it was when we were rehearsing Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question for our tour in France, and if I recall correctly, Mauceri had to conduct in two time signatures at the same time for a bit.  One of the time signatures was 7/4 and he joked about how easy it is to conduct in seven.  He said (while beating in the air to a count of 8):  “You just conduct one-two-three-four-five-six-sev-en.” - Ed Pearlman ’74

“We were warmly received by audiences on the tour, due in part, I think, to our evident enthusiasm about playing together in those beautiful, historic French concert halls.  And I have lasting memories from some of our inexpensive but delicious bistro meals in Springtime Paris!” - Mary Heen ’71

Links: March 1971 - France Tour (Concerts/Rehearsals)

March 1971 - France Tour (Parties/Receptions)

March 1971 - France Tour (Traveling)

March 26, 1971 - France Tour (Paris)

March 30, 1971 - France Tour (Lyon)

Leopold Stokowski guest conducts a YSO rehearsal

As part of a visit to Yale as the recipient of the Henry Elias Howland Memorial Prize, an 89-year-old Leopold Stokowski gave a rehearsal of his arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.

“Mauceri arranged for Leopold Stokowski to conduct one of our rehearsals.  At one point, a horn or trombone player hit a bad note and Stokowski stopped the whole orchestra.  He looked at the offending player and simply said, “Do better, sir.”  And then we continued and all was well!” - Ed Pearlman ’74

Link: November 23, 1971 - Leopold Stokowski

Stockhausen’s “Anthems” takes over the whole campus

What could possibly out-do the YSO’s performances of Scriabin’s “Prometheus,” with it’s light and fog show in Woolsey Hall? What about a parade down Elm Street, flags projected on the marble walls of the Beinecke, and a flyby by the Yale Aviation Club as part of a magical, interdisciplinary madness orchestrated by the Yale Symphony in a performance of Karheinz Stockhausen’s “Anthems?”

Link: April 29, 1972 - Beinecke Plaza (Stockhausen - Anthems)


My happiest memories of Yale are musical: the concerts I heard, groups with whom I sang, and most of all, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, for whom I was the organist. My degrees are in math, music theory, and computer science, but it’s the YSO that I’m proudest of.

I was typically needed only for the ending of a big piece, like Scriabin’s Prometheus or Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, and that meant that my entrance was always loud, often as loud as the whole orchestra, so it required calming my nerves before launching into a piece on the Mighty Newberry.

The piece that required the most work for me was Bernstein’s Mass, where the organ plays throughout the piece, as part of the orchestra, often quite softly, although there was a loud section in the “mad scene” where I play in 11/8! I was honored, and somewhat terrified, when Toshi Shimada and John Mauceri invited me back to play with the YSO at its 50th-year concert, in Woolsey Hall and at Carnegie Hall, in 2016, where I played in sections from Mass as well as the big, splashy Strauss Festive Prelude, pieces that I had not played in 43 years. It was especially moving for me because my 8 siblings came to hear us at Carnegie Hall, and they’d never heard me play before. Who would imagine that the YSO would have such a personal impact after 4 decades?

While I was at Yale, I toured twice with the orchestra, once in France (Ives 4th, Scriabin Prometheus), and once in Austria (Bernstein Mass). My experience playing in the YSO shaped my appreciation of the thousands of orchestral performances I’ve attended since then, a major part of my life. I’m happy to contribute to the Endowment Fund so that other students may find the joy and beauty in music that I have.

— Jim Meehan ’71 B.S., ‘72 M.S., ‘74 M.Phil., ‘76 Ph.D.

The Yale Symphony gives the European Premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s “Mass”

A moment in YSO legend, the 1973 Vienna production of Leonard Bernstein’s “MASS” is a memory that nearly every YSO alum who experienced it has reflected upon in conversation with us.

Performed in Woolsey Hall just a year after its World Premiere at the Kennedy Center, Leonard Bernstein was so impressed by the performance that he invited the YSO to be the orchestra to premiere his work in Vienna.

The premiere was filmed by WNET Channel 13, and became a programming staple for several years.

Fun fact: The MASS is also credited with changing the career path of the actor, Robert Picardo, who went on to act in roles in China Beach, The Wonder Years, and most notably the Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager. 

“It was a tremendous honor to play the European premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in Vienna, and very amusing to watch Bernstein on stage afterwards and give a rose and a hug to every singer.” - Ed Pearlman ’74

Links: June 1973 - Vienna - Bernstein Mass (Photos - Leonard Bernstein/John Mauceri)

June 1973 - Vienna - Bernstein Mass (Photos - Rehearsals/Performance, Pt. 1)

June 1973 - Vienna - Bernstein Mass (Photos and Press - Rehearsals/Performance, Pt. 2)

June 1973 - Vienna - Bernstein Mass (Slides - Rehearsals/Performance, Pt. 3)

June 1973 - Vienna - Bernstein Mass (Slides - Rehearsals/Performance, Pt. 4)

June 1973 - Vienna - Bernstein Mass (Slides - Rehearsals/Performance, Pt. 5)

June 1973 - Bernstein Mass (Negatives - Rehearsal)

February 27, 1974 - Vienna Premiere of “Mass” on Channel 13

April 6 - June 27, 1973 - European Premiere of Bernstein Mass (German Press in Translation)

April 4 - September 1, 1973 - European Premiere of Bernstein Mass (English-language Press)

April 1973 - February 1974 - European Premiere of Bernstein Mass (Correspondence)

John Mauceri ends his six iconic years with the orchestra -
C. William Harwood becomes the third music director of the YSO

April of 1974 saw the last concert with Maestro Mauceri at the helm, ending his YSO leadership with a performance of the Verdi “Requiem” with the New Haven Chorale.

The 1974-75 season welcomed C. William Harwood ’70 to the conductor podium, beginning his three year term with the YSO.