With winter around the corner, the recent digitization of Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra’s (HRO) recorded oeuvre ought to make fans of Verdi and viola players alike quite content over the dark, cold, long haul. Going back over 30 years, the newly completed archive – spearheaded by longtime HRO conductor James Yannatos – includes every available performance by the storied symphony. And though there are some gaps in the collection, it comprises nearly 100 of HRO’s Sander’s Theatre performances. That’s more than 200 hours of symphonic music.
Recently presented to the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, the collection (composed of 95 CD sets) was funded by the Pierian Foundation, the advisory group of HRO that includes former members of the orchestra, faculty, and University alumni. Yannatos worked with Virginia Danielson, the Richard F. French Librarian at Loeb, in coordinating the collection’s presentation to the library.
Transferring all of the orchestra’s existing analog and digital audiotapes to CD took a full year at a cost of approximately $20,000. The process itself was conducted by an audio engineer based in Vermont.
According to Yannatos, the collection will serve multiple functions. Foremost, students, staff, and faculty can now enjoy and study HRO concerts spanning different decades. Additionally, HRO alumni wishing to hear performances that they took part in will be able to obtain copies for a small fee. And finally, Yannatos hopes that former orchestra members in possession of old recordings – say, a 1977 performance of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor – will contribute to the collected works. “Hopefully, it’ll continue [to grow],” he says about the collection.