Music at Yale: Playing together, again

It had been fifty weeks since our last in-person Yale Symphony Orchestra rehearsal. So much about the world had changed that my memories of rehearsal, once a weekly fixture in my college life, felt a world away.

That’s why, when string players in the YSO once again gathered to play under our conductor’s baton last week, the moment felt surreal. And yet, it also felt oddly normal.

This semester, the Yale School of Music is allowing YSO string players to gather for in-person, socially-distanced rehearsals (wind instruments cannot play with a mask on). When I first heard the news, it was hard to believe that I would be back in a real-life orchestra soon. It’s funny how quickly we adjusted to the “new normal” of pandemic life. Since the lag time makes it essentially impossible to play with other people over Zoom, I really wasn’t sure what to expect when we were back in person. Would we sound coherent or completely disoriented? Did I even remember how to sight-read?

Me, waving to Nanki (6 feet away of course)

All those worries melted away when we finally played our first ~synchronous~ note together. It just felt so good. It felt like home. Despite the masks and the distance, we were making music again. It felt so natural to be playing with my fellow orchestra members, as if we had just rehearsed the week before. It’s funny how quickly we adjusted back to being in the same room with each other. I felt so comforted by the fact that we picked up right where we left off (minus, sadly, our dear winds section). It renewed my faith in the power of community, and the importance of continuity even when it seems like trying to meet over Zoom is pointless.

This rehearsal will be one that I remember for the rest of my life. Because it was the first time, since March 2020, that I truly felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.