Yale Symphony Orchestra displays talent in special Halloween show

Lindsay Giovannone, Copy Desk Chief

Perspective

Starting at midnight and concluding at 1 a.m. on Nov. 1, the Yale Symphony Orchestra held its Annual Halloween Show at Woolsey Hall. Despite being a University of New Haven student, I wanted to go, so when ticket sales began on Oct. 16 at 10:31 p.m., I purchased a $10 second balcony ticket.

The ticket specified that the event began at 11 p.m. on Oct. 31. I arrived at Yale’s Woolsey Hall 20 minutes prior and then proceeded to stand in line for 20 minutes. I was unaware that the 11 p.m. on the ticket signified the doors opening, and not the time the actual event was starting.

After climbing up what seemed to be 10 flights of gorgeous wooden stairs, I found the second balcony. Being one of the first 50 people inside, I was able to snag a front-row seat in the middle of the balcony. I sat for 45 minutes, enjoying a short but lively performance by the Yale rock-cello group Low Strung at 11:30.

At midnight, the show was slated to begin. Each section of the orchestra selected a different costume theme, and the respective members ran on stage together to a song corresponding to this theme. Some crowd favorites were the Super Mario Bros., the Minions and a herd of cows.

The Yale Symphony Orchestra accompanied a student-produced silent film. This year’s film was called Bull and Scones, which was directed and written by Ryan Zhou ‘23, co-produced by Derek Song ‘25 and Nadira Novruzov ‘25 with Atticus Margulis-Ohnuma ‘25 as music director.

Bull and Scones follows three first-year Yale students–Samhitha, Dylan and Gisel–as they struggle to find their way and fit in during their first few months of school. After Samhitha is invited to join a secret society, the Bull and Scones (a parody on the infamous Skull and Bones), she begins to abandon Dylan and Gisel in favor of her society members. However, she soon realizes that she doesn’t feel close with anyone in Bull and Scones and reconnects with Dylan and Gisel. They concoct a plan to oust as many members as possible, through any means necessary, from staging a member wearing a Harvard sweatshirt to forcing Covid symptoms upon another.

Bull and Scones is riddled with Yale-centric humor. When a character introduced themselves and what residential college they lived in, students from that college would break out into manic clapping and cheering. Certain majors were slighted as being easy, some Yale policies and recommendations (such as the Sober Buddy system) were satirized and the class of ‘26 caught multiple strays during the film. To the delight of the electric audience, Yale’s beloved bulldog mascot, Handsome Dan, even made an appearance.

While I seldom understood the “inside-jokes” that received clamorous laughter, it was obvious that the spirit of Yale was alive in Woolsey Hall. Even still, there were jokes universal to any college student, such as dealing with poor school wifi and having awkward small talk at parties that scarcely extends beyond the compulsory ‘what major are you?’ and ‘where are you from?’ questions.

The details of the Halloween Show are secretive and only known by the students who are part of its creation. To the Yale Daily News, Margulis-Ohnuma said, “The purpose of [film-scoring] is to elicit certain reactions from the audience, making them feel a certain way…and I have 100% faith that this group this year is going to pull off the Halloween show with no problem.” Indeed they did. The score included pop arrangements, all of which were impeccably performed. Also to the Yale Daily News, Song said that the film’s team spent from 30 to 100 hours working on the show.

All of these efforts were worth it. Once the sold-out show concluded, 2,600 Yalies (and myself) erupted into enthusiastic and voracious applause. I commend every student involved for their talent and dedication in bringing to life such a humorous yet poignant show.