Central Conservatory of Music President Yu Feng visits Yale

Left to right: LIU Hongzhu, director of CCoM’s office of international affairs; CCoM President YU Feng; YSM Dean Robert Blocker; YU Hongmei, professor of erhu and director of CCoM’s department of traditional Chinese music; and YU Feng’s son YU Ji, a postgraduate conducting student at CCoM

YU Feng, the president of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, paid a visit to Yale University this week as part of a trip to American schools with which his has institutional partnerships. The Yale School of Music has had a relationship with CCoM since the mid-1990s, when WANG Cizhao, whose daughter, composer Fay Wang, earned a master of music degree and an artist diploma from YSM in 2010 and 2012, respectively, was the conservatory’s president. YU, who leads CCoM’s conducting department, became the conservatory’s president in February 2016.

YU Feng was accompanied on his visit to Yale by his son, YU Ji, a postgraduate conducting student at CCoM; YU Hongmei, professor of erhu and director of CCoM’s department of traditional Chinese music; and LIU Hongzhu, the director of CCoM’s office of international affairs. MORE

Published June 23, 2017
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Inside YSM: Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA, piano

Sun-A Park

Pianist Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA was recently selected to compete at the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which is scheduled to take place in late May and early June in Fort Worth, Texas. Asked how studying with Boris Berman at YSM has prepared her for that opportunity, Sun-A said, “Professor Berman encouraged me to make the most musical decisions, provided insights into the repertoire I am performing, and stirred an intellectual curiosity within myself. I don’t know if he has prepared me just for this opportunity. He always believed in me and helped to maximized my abilities.” MORE

Published May 5, 2017
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Inside YSM: Matthew Gray ’17MMA, horn

Matthew Gray

Meet horn player Matt Gray ’17MMA, who spoke with us recently about his experiences studying with Prof. William Purvis.

“The dynamic in the YSM horn studio is similar to that of a big family,” Matt said. “Each member of the family has strengths and weaknesses, but together we are a capable and formidable group. This sense of family and camaraderie comes directly from Prof. Purvis.

“Prof. Purvis has a style of teaching that focuses directly on the steps his students should take to assess and improve their own playing while also motivating and encouraging his students to pursue their own strengths to the fullest degree.”

While at YSM, Matt has worked in the Concert Office and has developed an interest in the administrative side of the field. MORE

Published May 5, 2017
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Yaffe receives sustainability award, Purrington debuts “A Clarion Call”

YSM Associate Dean Michael Yaffe

Yale School of Music Associate Dean Michael Yaffe received a Certificate of Outstanding Recognition on Friday, April 21, from Yale University’s Office of Sustainability. Yaffe was recognized at the 2017 “State of Sustainability” Breakfast for his dedication to championing “inclusion and justice” at YSM, in the local community, and beyond.

“Michael Yaffe has worked to enrich the New Haven schools through the Music in Schools Initiative,” Office of Sustainability Director Ginger Chapman said.

According to language on its website, the Office of Sustainability’s mission “is to advance sustainability within the Yale community by acting as a catalyst for information exchange and facilitating capacity building, innovation, streamlined operations, and preparation of tomorrow’s sustainability leaders.”

“A city that provides families with active music-making is a more cohesive city,” Yaffe said. “Music is an emotional language that gives meaning to society and has the potential to bring confidence and commitment” to conversations such as those about health, equity, and future generations. MORE

Published April 21, 2017
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Inside YSM: Noah Kay ’18MM, oboe

Noah Kay

Oboist Noah Kay ’18MM recently talked with us about being drawn to YSM and Prof. Stephen Taylor’s studio by his experiences at the Yale Summer School of Music / Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and about his time, so far, here at Yale. Here’s what Noah had to say.

“Attending Norfolk in the summer of 2014 definitely fueled my interest in Yale and what it has to offer. Having the opportunity to work in close quarters with such great faculty and students in such a great environment was really beneficial, and it opened my eyes to how enriching an experience playing chamber music can be. Prof. Taylor’s attitude toward music is something that really attracted me to his studio. Having spent a semester here, I can say that I really value the fact that he approaches everything with humor. The oboe can be a tremendously stressful instrument (mostly because of our reed-making plight), and he has taught me how to stay upbeat and positive even when things are not going as smoothly as I’d like. Lessons with him are all about diving deep into the music and figuring out how to polish an interpretation even further, and my mental process when practicing or learning a piece has taken on much more refinement as a result. MORE

Published March 24, 2017
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Inside YSM: Matthew Keown, percussion

Matthew Keown, percussion

We asked percussionist and current DMA candidate Matthew Keown ’16MM to share his thoughts about the new Adams Center for Musical Arts.

“As a percussionist at YSM, I am lucky enough to have my studio located in the heart of the new building,” he said. “The door to our foyer leads directly to the new student lounge, our beloved watering (coffee) hole. The quality of a practice space affects musicians more than one might imagine. The natural light let in through large windows in our practice rooms energizes the musician and helps foster a greater sense of focus. The sound of our new rooms varies with the shape of the space to provide diverse, quality sonic experiences.”

The new spaces also serve the logistical needs of the YSM percussion studio.

“As percussionists,” Matt said, “we are constantly moving equipment from one space to another, and the generosity with which the new building was designed, in respect to this need, is greatly appreciated. Each door in our percussion suite was specially designed to comfortably fit five-octave marimbas and 32” timpani. The percussionist’s favorite part of the new building, though, is the elevator. On any given day in the old Hendrie Hall, I am told, you could spot percussionists carrying timpani upstairs. I think I speak for all current and future percussionists (sorry those of past generations) when I say thank you for this convenience!”

Matt’s performance of YSM faculty composer David Lang’s “the anvil chorus” was recently featured in a video of the Adams Center’s name being carved into the face of the new complex.

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Published March 24, 2017
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Inside YSM: Wil Wortley ’18MM, trombone

Wil Wortley ’18MM

Meet YSM student Wil Wortley ’18MM, who recently talked with us about switching his focus from euphonium to trombone.

“I’ve kind of had it in my head to focus more on trombone (as opposed to euphonium) since later in high school, because a teacher of mine kept pushing me to do so,” Wil explained. “The two instruments are similar enough that with a little individual practice I was able to play in the trombone choir at Eastman, where I did my undergrad. Eventually, I began taking secondary lessons beginning my junior year as I considered playing trombone more seriously. As grad school approached, I made the transition for a simple reason: There are more job opportunities on trombone than euphonium, although that isn’t saying much. The actual switch has been easy in some ways and difficult in others. The obvious difficulty is the difference in the technique mechanism. Moving a big ole piece of metal back and forth while trying to hit the right spot at the right time is exactly as hard as you’d think it would be. Luckily, the sound production is similar, which allowed me to very easily become an OK trombone player. It’s been much harder to learn some of the subtle differences between the horns, because, in a way, the similarities actually mask some of the differences. My professor here at Yale, Scott Hartman, has been tremendously helpful. We don’t really focus on the fact that I used to play euphonium, which is great. He always looks at what we’re working on from a musical perspective while managing to think about the technique required in a very logical and consistent way. The trick to balancing or integrating those two aspects of music-making is something I aspire to learn.”

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Published March 24, 2017
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Inside YSM: Dana Kelley, Argus Quartet

Dana Kelley, viola

We recently asked new Argus Quartet violist Dana Kelley about her experience joining a quartet whose other three members have been playing together for three and a half years.

“The process of joining a pre-existing quartet has been both exciting and challenging,” she said. “On one hand, it’s great to jump into a group that is already in motion. The other three members, Jason, Clara, and Joann, know each other very well and understand each other’s musical tendencies and preferences. They’ve also had the opportunity to experiment with rehearsal techniques and develop a group sound, as well as create an image and goals for the quartet. Being able to become a part of Argus after much of the groundwork has been laid has been a privilege for me. 

“On the other hand,” Dana said, “I am now adding my own personal and musical quirks to the equation. I only met the other three members recently, so we are learning not only how to play music together, but also how to communicate and get along with one another. Fortunately, I felt immediately welcome upon joining Argus. They’ve even tolerated my offbeat humor so far! Every rehearsal and performance has been a chance for us to learn more about and understand one another. String quartet playing is so much about the unspoken bonds and the development of trust between the musicians; the more time we spend together, the stronger these bonds will become.”

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Published March 24, 2017
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Inside YSM: Vyacheslav Gryaznov ’18AD, piano

Vyacheslav Gryaznov ’18 AD

On Friday, February 24, 2017, pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov ’18AD performed Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 with conducting fellow David Yi and the Yale Philharmonia. Asked about his approach to playing Shostakovich’s music, Slava said, “I love music by Shostakovich — his symphonies, ‘Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,’ his ballets, chamber music, experimental opuses like the ‘Aphorisms’ … A lot of his pieces contain not only powerful feelings but also encrypted messages. It was the only possible way to express what he really thought. He lived in a Soviet era when a lot of people felt imprisoned, both in a moral and often in the real physical sense. Shostakovich was under a pressure which we cannot imagine. It is often understood as a restriction on his artistic freedom. But in fact this pressure, among other factors, created his unique musical individuality: this combination of being wildly against the system with a lot of extremes, but with such a huge humanity, real passion, and tenderness at the same time.”

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Published March 24, 2017
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Inside YSM: David Yi, conductor

David Yi

On Friday, February 24, 2017, YSM conducting fellow David Yi led the Yale Philharmonia and student pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov in a performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin,” and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.

Asked when he became interested in conducting, David said, “I first started with the piano and then played the violin. For some reason, I always wanted to become a conductor, ever since I was a child. I always loved playing in the orchestra as a violinist/pianist. There is something great about making music with a large group of people. As a conductor, nothing is more satisfying than the moment when I realize that we are making music together.” 

In addition to his studies with Yale Philharmonia principal conductor Peter Oundjian, David’s approach to leading an orchestra has been shaped by several other notable conductors.

“Hugh Wolff at the New England Conservatory had a huge influence on my approach to score study,” David said. “Nicolás Pasquet at the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Germany helped with physical conducting. I had an opportunity to study with Riccardo Muti. He emphasized the importance of showing drama through music.”

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Published March 24, 2017
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