Performance Activities

School of Music Organizations

Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale

The Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale, 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 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 in the Shubert Theater. The Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale has performed on numerous occasions in Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York City, Symphony Hall in Boston, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Recent appearances at Carnegie Hall as part of the Yale in New York series were praised by the New York Times as “sensational” and “tightly wrought, polished, and dramatic.” The 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, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, and Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Peter Oundjian is the orchestra’s principal conductor.

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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 full Philharmonia Orchestra in Woolsey Hall.

Yale Opera

Under the artistic direction of Doris Yarick-Cross, Yale Opera students perform in full-scale, mainstage productions as well as in programs of scenes. Performances in recent years have been directed by Chas Rader-Shieber, Dustin Wills, Vera Lúcia Calábria, Ted Huffman, Michael Gieleta, Louisa Proske, Marc Verzatt, and Justin Way, and conducted by Dominique Trottein, Speranza Scappucci, Giuseppe Grazioli, and Christoph Campestrini. Additionally, world-renowned opera director Michael Hampe directed and taught Yale Opera students in a weeklong workshop in 2011–2012. Recent productions, including The Magic Flute, Così fan tutte, Eugene Onegin, Le nozze di Figaro, La Bohème, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Don Giovanni, and Die Fledermaus, were presented at New Haven’s historic Shubert Theatre. Yale Opera has produced more intimate productions in Sprague Hall, including Hansel and Gretel, a double bill of The Bear and Le pauvre matelot, a double bill of The Old Maid and the Thief and Le Rossignol, Riders to the Sea, Gianni Schicchi, La Cenerentola, Iolanta, The Rape of Lucretia, The Scarf, Dido and Aeneas, and La tragédie de Carmen.

Each year, Yale Opera offers public vocal master classes. In recent years, Alan Held has been a regular guest educator, and Jennifer Larmore, Sherrill Milnes, Marilyn Horne, Matthew Polenzani, and Renata Scotto have conducted master classes in Morse Recital Hall.

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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 internationally recognized artists such 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 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 both 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 Kennedy Center, 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, led by founding conductor Marguerite L. Brooks, 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. There is no admission fee for these concerts.

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. The 2019–2020 season features performances by the Brentano String Quartet (the School of Music’s ensemble-in-residence), Akropolis Reed Quintet, Polonsky/Shifrin/Wiley Trio, Horszowski Trio, Zukerman Trio, Pamela Frank and Emanuel Ax, and winners of the School of Music’s annual student chamber music competition.

Horowitz Piano Series at Yale

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. The upcoming season features recitals by guest artists Alessio Bax, Lucille Chung, and Sofya Gulyak, and recitals by Berman and his faculty colleagues Robert Blocker, Hung-Kuan Chen, Melvin Chen, and Wei-Yi Yang.

Yale in New York

The School of Music presents concerts annually in New York City at venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. The 2018–2019 season, under the artistic direction of David Shifrin, featured a reprise of the School of Music’s acclaimed production of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale at Zankel Hall, and two performances at Weill Recital Hall featuring School of Music faculty, students, and alumni—one celebrating Shifrin’s current and former clarinet students, and one highlighting faculty guitarist Benjamin Verdery’s studio. The 2019–2020 season will feature three performances at Weill Recital Hall featuring School of Music faculty, students, and alumni.

Collection of Musical Instruments Concert Series

A series of five concerts featuring internationally distinguished performers is presented annually by the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, under the direction of William Purvis. The 2018–2019 season included performances by 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. Concerts will resume in spring 2020 after the completion of a renovation project.

The Duke Ellington Fellowship Series

The Duke Ellington Fellowship, led by Artistic Director Thomas C. Duffy, offers concerts by prominent artists and jazz musicians each year. The series has featured performances by 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, Roy Haynes, Javon Jackson, Elvin Jones, Christian McBride, James Moody, Joshua Redman, the Renee Rosnes Quartet, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry, Frank Wess, and Randy Weston; 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. The 2019–2020 season features performances by the Ignacio Berroa Trio, Louis Hayes, Catherine Russell, and Bernie Willliams.

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. In 2018–2019 the visiting guest artist was Thomas Trotter. In 2019–2020 the visiting guest artist will be Rachel Laurin.

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 Hall and other venues around campus; Vista, a series that features chamber music groups that provide spoken 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, 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 Kennedy Center 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.