The YSO Legacy - 1985-1990


Horror Legend Vincent Price performs Slatkin’s “The Raven”

Yale Symphony Crosses the Iron Curtain

In 1985, the Yale Symphony embarked on a tour of Austria and Hungary, performing American standards by Ives, Barber and Gershwin alongside standards of the Western Canon by Rimsky-Korsakov, Mozart and Stravinsky.

Alasdair Neale becomes the Sixth Music Director of the YSO

“One of my fondest memories of my time with the YSO revolves around the performance we did of Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen, a study for 23 solo strings that lies at the center of the marvelous Indian summer Strauss enjoyed towards the end of his life.  It’s an immensely complex work, demanding exceptional sensitivity and intense concentration from all its participants as they weave a tragic narrative over the course of a single, 25-minute span.

I was fortunate enough to have the cream of the crop of an astonishingly talented string section, all of whom were eager to take part.  To kick off the process I organized a pizza party at my apartment on Wooster Street as a means of introducing everyone to the piece.  We sat around my living room—each player having brought along their individual part—and I put on a superb recording with the Berlin Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan and let the lush string textures wash over us.  It was a great first step in what ended up being a memorable journey.  We spent many hours exploring and refining the music together and by performance time we’d succeeded in making it a real piece of chamber music, with everyone fully aware not just of their own part but also everyone’s else’s too—a luxury afforded us by a long gestation process that just isn’t an option in the professional world.  The performances in Woolsey Hall and, as part of our 1988 UK tour, at the Royal College of Music in London and at the Usher Hall in my home town of Edinburgh, were worthy of the effort we’d put into the rehearsals, and their memory still reverberates with me more than thirty years later.”

- Alasdair Neale, from the YSO Endowment Page: Reflections by Past Directors

Photo courtesy of Andrew Smith ’91

Yale Symphony Returns to Great Britain

I have fond memories of our tour to Great Britain in 1988, including Alasdair Neale’s return to Edinburgh. And I can’t listen to Strauss’s Don Juan without hearing “Don Juan gets played more than anything, except the Kyr…”

Mike Carrier (‘91)

Yo-Yo Ma joins the YSO as Special Guest

During David Stern’s year as Music Director, the YSO invited cello mega-star Yo-Yo Ma to perform the Dvorak Concerto for Cello.

(from Sarah Felstiner JE ’91) “This is me with Yo-Yo Ma, during our pre-concert rehearsal (which was held in the Band Room of Hendrie Hall, for some reason). Yo-Yo came over to me during a break to offer some notes on the duet moments between flute and ‘cello in the 1st and 3rd movements of the Dvorak concerto. That rehearsal remains a lifetime high point - even more so than the performance in Woolsey, because during the Hendrie rehearsal Yo-Yo sat facing the orchestra, making eye contact with each of us as our parts intersected with his. One other particular memory from that concert (which Warren Wu or any of the other cellists of that era could confirm), is that following the concerto, Yo-Yo sat down in the back of the ‘cello section to play along for the 2nd half of the concert…wish I could remember who had the terrifying honor of being his stand partner!”