Performance Activities

School of Music Organizations

Yale Philharmonia

The Yale Philharmonia, led by Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian, is one of America’s foremost music school ensembles. The largest performing group at the Yale School of Music, the Yale Philharmonia offers superb training in orchestral playing and repertoire.

Performances include an annual series of concerts in Woolsey Hall as well as Yale Opera productions. The Yale Philharmonia has performed on numerous occasions in Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, Symphony Hall in Boston, and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Recent appearances at Carnegie Hall as part of the Yale in New York series have been praised by The New York Times as “sensational” and “tightly wrought, polished, and dramatic.” The Yale Philharmonia has toured in France and Italy, and in 2008 undertook its first tour of Asia, with acclaimed performances in the Seoul Arts Center, the Forbidden City Concert Hall and National Centre for the Performing Arts (Beijing), and the Shanghai Grand Theatre.

The beginnings of orchestral music at Yale can be traced to 1894, when an orchestra was organized under the leadership of the School’s first dean, Horatio Parker. Guest conductors who have worked with the orchestra in recent years include John Adams, Marin Alsop, William Christie, James Conlon, Valery Gergiev, Giancarlo Guerrero, Carolyn Kuan, Jahja Ling, Krzysztof Penderecki, David Robertson, Leonard Slatkin, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, and Jean-Marie Zeitouni.

New Music New Haven

New Music New Haven, under the direction of Aaron Jay Kernis, presents new and recent compositions by faculty, students, and guest composers. Performers are students in the School and often include guest artists as well. The programs often feature music by a member of the composition faculty or by a renowned guest composer. An important part of the series is a program of new works for orchestra by Yale composers performed by the Yale Philharmonia in Woolsey Hall.

Yale Opera

Under the artistic direction of Gerald Martin Moore, Yale Opera students perform in full-scale operas, chamber operas, concerts, and programs of scenes. Performances in recent years have been directed by Candace Evans, Paul Curran, Chas Rader-Shieber, Dustin Wills, and Ted Huffman, and conducted by Christopher Franklin, Speranza Scappucci, Giuseppe Grazioli, Perry So, and Dominique Trottein. Recent productions, including Florencia en el Amazonas, Eugene Onegin, The Magic Flute, and Così fan tutte were presented at New Haven’s historic Shubert Theatre. Yale Opera has produced more intimate productions in Morse Recital Hall, including Hansel and Gretel, Le Rossignol, Gianni Schicchi, La Cenerentola, and Iolanta.

Recent guests brought to work with the Yale Opera students include Renée Fleming, Erin Morley, Dame Sarah Connolly, Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, and Matthew Polenzani. Guest coaches brought for residencies include Howard Watkins from the Metropolitan Opera, Kevin Murphy from Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, and Carrie-Ann Matheson from Merola Opera.

Yale College Organizations

Yale Symphony Orchestra

The Yale Symphony Orchestra is Yale’s premier undergraduate orchestra. The YSO performs an average of seven concerts annually in Woolsey Hall and elsewhere. In addition to providing the Yale community a stellar musical outlet, the YSO is notorious for its annual Halloween Show, which has been an institution of the Yale College community for more than thirty years.

Many of the Yale Symphony’s alumni have gone on to roles in major orchestras around the world, from the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony to the Israel Philharmonic and Orchestre National de France. The orchestra has shared the stage with such internationally recognized artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Frederica von Stade, David Shifrin, Emanuel Ax, and Dawn Upshaw, and annually gives undergraduates the opportunity to perform major concerti through the William Waite Concerto Competition. The Yale Symphony Orchestra has presented national and world premieres of numerous works, including the European premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in 1973. The YSO has performed at major concert halls in the United States and around the world, and tours internationally and domestically.

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Yale Bands

Although the constituency of the Yale Bands is predominantly undergraduate, wind, brass, and percussion instrument majors of the School of Music are eligible for membership and often have the opportunity to gain conducting experience by assisting the director. The Yale Bands include a concert band of fifty-five select musicians, a jazz ensemble, and a marching band of approximately fifty to one hundred students that performs at sports events throughout the year.

The Concert Band and its component ensembles perform in Woolsey Hall and Morse Recital Hall. Since 1959, the Concert Band has produced twenty-seven international concert tours, performing in England, France, Ghana, South Africa, Japan, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Brazil, and Mexico; it was the first Yale ensemble to perform on the continent of Africa (Ceuta). American tours have featured concerts in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Marine Corps Band Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the National Building Museum, in New York City’s Symphony Space and Carnegie Hall, and at the Miami Ives Festival.

The Yale Jazz Ensemble has performed in London’s finest jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s; twice with the Mel Lewis Band in New York City’s Village Vanguard; and at the Iridium. The Jazz Ensemble performs classic big band and combo jazz, and premieres music by Yale composers.

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Yale Glee Club

Yale’s oldest musical organization and principal undergraduate mixed chorus, the Glee Club began as thirteen members of the class of 1863 and has evolved today into a chorus of eighty women and men from across the University. The ensemble performs a broad range of choral repertoire from the sixteenth century to the present, commissioning new choral works and performing major choral orchestral works every season, frequently in collaboration with the University’s other major choral ensembles and orchestras. In recent years the Glee Club has appeared under the baton of such distinguished guest artists as Sir Neville Marriner, Helmuth Rilling, Sir David Willcocks, and Krzysztof Penderecki. One of the world’s most traveled collegiate choruses, the Glee Club tours extensively each year and has appeared on six continents in the world’s most prestigious concert halls.

Membership in the Glee Club is open to all Yale students by audition, primarily to undergraduates. Members of the Glee Club may also audition for the Glee Club Chamber Singers, a select ensemble of sixteen to twenty singers. Qualified students in the School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music often have the opportunity to serve as assistant conductor to the Glee Club and director of the Glee Club Chamber Singers.

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Institute of Sacred Music Organizations

The primary choral ensembles sponsored by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music are the Yale Camerata, founded by Marguerite L. Brooks, and conducted by Felicia Barber; and Yale Schola Cantorum, a chamber choir conducted by David Hill. For information on these and other vocal ensembles supported by the Institute, please visit

Concerts and Recitals

Faculty Artist Series

Faculty members of the School, many of whom are internationally recognized concert artists, share the point of view that part of their commitment to music and to teaching in a university involves regular and frequent performance, on campus and elsewhere. These concerts are free and open to the public.

Oneppo Chamber Music Series

Formerly known as the Chamber Music Society at Yale, this concert series was renamed in honor of its former director, Vincent Oneppo. Under the direction of David Shifrin, the series maintains a tradition of presenting the finest chamber music ensembles from around the world, many of which also work with School of Music students in coachings and master classes.

Horowitz Piano Series

Directed by Boris Berman, this series of piano recitals was established in 2000 and is dedicated to the great pianist Vladimir Horowitz, whose musical archive resides at Yale. In addition to recitals by the Yale piano faculty, there are concerts and public master classes by distinguished guests each year. In past seasons these guest artists have included Tigran Alikhanov, Emanuel Ax, Malcolm Bilson, Idil Biret, Yefim Bronfman, Ran Dank and Soyeon Kate Lee, Misha Dichter, Leon Fleisher, Richard Goode, Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Olga Kern, Anton Kuerti, Ruth Laredo, Paul Lewis, Alexei Lubimov, Radu Lupu, Garrick Ohlsson, Roberto Prosseda, Pierre Réach, Pascal Rogé, Peter Serkin, Fou Ts’ong, Dénes Várjon, and Severin von Eckardstein.

Yale in New York

Under the artistic direction of David Shifrin, the series presents concerts featuring School of Music faculty, alumni, and student performers in Yale’s Morse Recital Hall and the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The series often focuses on a creative theme, such as the tradition of the concertante repertoire or the classical legacy of Benny Goodman. Several past programs have explored Yale’s own musical history, including the music of Paul Hindemith (a faculty member from 1940–1953) and voices recorded by the Oral History of American Music project.

Concerts at the Collection

A series of concerts featuring internationally distinguished performers is presented annually by the Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments, under the direction of William Purvis. Recent performers have included harpsichordist Wladyslaw Klosiewicz, the Dark Horse Consort, the Boreas Quartett Bremen, Quicksilver Baroque, and cellist Steven Isserlis and fortepianist Robert Levin, among others. The concerts frequently feature the use of restored instruments from the collection.

Ellington Jazz Series

The Ellington Jazz Series, led by artistic director Thomas C. Duffy, offers concerts by prominent artists and jazz musicians each year. The series has featured performances by Ignacio Berroa, Jane Ira Bloom, Dave Brubeck, Kenny Burrell, Don Byron, Ron Carter, Bill Charlap, Ravi Coltrane, Eddie Daniels, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, tap-dance legend Savion Glover, Louis Hayes, Roy Haynes, Javon Jackson, Elvin Jones, Christian McBride, James Moody, Joshua Redman, the Renee Rosnes Quartet, Catherine Russell, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry, Frank Wess, Randy Weston, and Bernie Williams; the Mingus Big Band; the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band with Jon Faddis; the Wayne Escoffery Quintet featuring Jeremy Pelt; pianists Toshiko Akiyoshi, Aaron Diehl, Barry Harris, and Dick Hyman; bass-baritone William Warfield; drummers Albert “Tootie” Heath, Louis Hayes, Kenny Washington, and Willie Jones III; and the “Langston Hughes Project,” a multimedia presentation of Hughes’s trailblazing poem Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, for which he wrote musical cues, featuring spoken-word artist Kenyon Adams, the Ron McCurdy Quartet, and imagery from the Harlem Renaissance.

Great Organ Music at Yale (Institute of Sacred Music)

Great Organ Music at Yale is a concert series sponsored by the Institute of Sacred Music. The series includes programs by the faculty, visiting artists, and other noted performers.

Chamber Music, Ensembles, and Vocal Concerts

School of Music performers have ample opportunities to perform publicly as members of various ensembles and as soloists. Among the prominent departmental ensembles that perform regularly are the Yale Cellos, directed by Ole Akahoshi, and the Yale Percussion Group, under Robert van Sice. In addition, a number of concert series are organized through the School’s chamber music program, directed by Wendy Sharp. These include the Lunchtime Chamber Music series, which takes place in Sprague Memorial Hall and other venues around campus; Vista, a series featuring chamber music groups that include commentary; and concerts of chamber music for guitar in combination with other instruments, under the direction of Benjamin Verdery. Yale Opera offers a Liederabend series every other year, in which a different language (German, Italian, French, or Russian) is featured in each program. Concerts by singers in the early music, oratorio, and chamber ensemble program feature thematic programs for vocal ensembles and soloists. In addition to these on-campus performances, School of Music students have participated in the Conservatory Project at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’s Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C.

Other Local Performing Groups

The New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the nation’s fourth-oldest orchestra, offers a series of concerts every year in Woolsey Hall and features leading artists as guest soloists. Other groups active locally include Orchestra New England, the New Haven Civic Orchestra, the New Haven Oratorio Chorus, and the New Haven Chorale. Organizations at Yale include the Yale Russian Chorus, the Slavic Chorus, Yale Collegium Musicum, and residential college orchestras.