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College Comment
Midnight Madness at the Symphony

Halloween is coming up at Yale, which can only mean one thing: a night at the Symphony.

To the rest of the world, Halloween may entail a night of bizarre costumes, excess candy and shameless pranks. Not so ’neath the elms of dear old Yale. Although the bizarre costumes are certainly in order, a typical Yalie’s Halloween centers on an even more absurd event: the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween Show.


Activities abound: “Liquor treating” appeals to some.

More than simply a concert, the show is an interactive, multimedia extravaganza. It features fishnet-stocking-clad violinists and a body-painted cello section. It often includes cameo appearances by Yale President Richard Levin, Yale College dean Richard Brodhead, or dean of student affairs Betty Trachtenberg. And somewhere in there, the Yale Symphony Orchestra plays an hour-long midnight show.

Rather than the entirety of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the YSO’s performance that night is a diverse musical collage, the soundtrack for the evening’s centerpiece: an original movie. Written, directed, and produced solely by members of the YSO, the film has parodied virtually everything from James Bond movies to Budweiser commercials. In last year’s show a Britney Spears craze—“Britmania”—had seized the campus, and it was up to “Eli Hunt” (violist Adrian Slywotsky ’02 parodying Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible) to save the day. Director Dan Persitz ’03 also squeezed in the traditional chase scene, Yale’s troubles with Napster, and an evil medical-student villain into the mix.

Of course, no Yale undergraduate’s day is complete without post-event analysis. As the hundreds of audience members dutifully wait their turn to exit Woolsey’s bottlenecked doors, the debate has already begun: Is “Jane Bond” still the best heroine ever? Was the plot too chase-scene heavy? Was Professor Jonathan Spence really lip-synching?

Make no mistake—Halloween at Yale is not limited to the midnight musical madness. Though we non-musicians certainly appreciate the cello section’s body paint, we find plenty of wacky costumes of our own. Classes and dining halls fill with costumes that are sometimes tough to identify: from Hanging Prepositions to Type II Levers. Some are more familiar: One friend dressed up as the ubiquitous Waldo of “Where’s Waldo?” last year. This being Yale, there are plenty of mask-and-cape outfits to go around, too. Activities abound: “Liquor treating” appeals to some, while others head off for the famous Pierson Inferno.

Still, come 11:30 each Halloween night, most Yalies still head eagerly to the symphony; the film is too good to be missed. Besides, maybe this year, it’ll be President Levin in the body paint.  the end


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