Group of orchestra members

Music, Service, and Friendship

The Saybrook College Orchestra (SYO) attracts musicians from all fields and majors, and strives to accommodate the busy schedules of its members. The orchestra rehearses once a week, on Friday afternoons from 3:30-6:00, in the Saybrook College Underbrook Performance Space.

SYO was founded in the fall of 2001 by a group of undergraduates seeking a wider variety of approaches to the performance of orchestral music at Yale. Originally devoted to the chamber orchestra repertoire, SYO has grown to a full-sized symphony orchestra, comprising instrumentalists from all twelve of Yale’s undergraduate colleges, the university faculty, and several of the graduate and professional schools. Today, the Saybrook College Orchestra is over 70 musicians strong and plays a conspicuous role in the cultural life of both the university and the New Haven community.

Students playing in orchestraFrom its inception, SYO has been committed to programming ambitious and accessible concerts presented free of charge. Highlights from recent performances include Beethoven’s Second Symphony, Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, and John Williams’ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

SYO is also deeply committed to educational and community outreach. In December of 2004, the orchestra presented an Educational Concert that was attended by over 900 students and teachers from all over the State of Connecticut. Narrated by the noted actress and Yale Drama School alumna Kate Burton, the concert featured selections from the classical repertoire as well as a suite of John Williams’ music from the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Students eating pizzaThe second annual Educational Concert proved an even greater success, changing venues to Woolsey Hall to accommodate twice as many students. In March of 2005, SYO performed along with The Whiffenpoofs and Brass. on a benefit concert organized by Yale staff and students to aid the victims of the South Asia tsunami. These projects and many others are made possible in part through the support of Saybrook College, the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee, the Lewis Walpole Library, the Yale Bands, the Yale School of Music, Orchestra New England, and the Yale Philharmonia, and through the generosity of private donors and contributors.

Known for its spirit of camaraderie, SYO sponsors frequent social gatherings, including weekly dinners, occasional games of ultimate frisbee and soccer, and trips to musical performances. The orchestra also supports a rich array of chamber ensembles, including the cello ensemble Low Strung and the quintet Brass, which perform frequently both on and off campus.