Augusta Read Thomas to launch Ear Taxi Festival

Augusta Read Thomas | Photo by Anthony Barlich

Augusta Read Thomas | Photo by Anthony Barlich

Conceived in 2013 by composer Augusta Read Thomas MM, the inaugural Ear Taxi Festival, scheduled to take place October 5-10, will celebrate Chicago’s flourishing and dynamic contemporary music scene with concerts, lectures, sound installations, webcasts, and artist receptions.

“The open collaborative nature of Chicago’s new music community is home to an extraordinary crop of ensembles and a vibrant landscape of composers,” Thomas has said. “The scene for new music in Chicago is exceptional and I dedicate myself to supporting and encouraging its sustainability and growth.”

Thomas, who studied with Jacob Druckman at the Yale School of Music, has co-curated the Ear Taxi Festival with trumpeter Stephen Burns and a committee of local artists and cultural leaders.

More than 350 musicians are scheduled to perform during the festival, which will present 54 world premieres and music by 88 composers including Ted Hearne ’08MM, whose choral work Consent will be performed as part of a September 25 Yale in New York program. All artists participating in the Ear Taxi Festival are based in Chicago. Festival venues include the Chicago Cultural Center, Constellation, the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Mana Fine Arts, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and the University of Chicago.

Chicago-based performing groups slated to perform include the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Fifth House Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Third Coast Percussion, among others.

“Having worked tirelessly on the Ear Taxi Festival for three years, I am very proud of it,” Thomas said.

Published August 26, 2016
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Paweł Konik reaches finals of “Le Grand Prix de l’Opéra”

Paweł Konik | Photo by Anna Płóciennik

Paweł Konik | Photo by Anna Płóciennik

Earlier this month, bass-baritone Paweł Konik reached the final round of “Le Grand Prix de l’Opéra,” the International Voice Competition organized by the Bucharest National Opera. Konik earned a special Excellency Prize, presented by the Russian Embassy, for his interpretation of “Aleko’s Cavatina” from Rachmaninoff’s Aleko. He also performed “Vedro mentr’io sospiro” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and “O du mein holder Abendstern” from Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

Konik, a native of Poland, is a member of the Yale Opera program, where he studies with Doris Yarick-Cross and Richard Cross. Konik also worked on his competition repertoire with YSM faculty members Douglas Dickson, Timothy Shaindlin, and Kyle Swann. During the 2015-2016 concert season, Konik appeared in Yale Opera productions of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Massenet’s Don Quichotte. Prior to coming to Yale, Konik attended the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice.

Konik is a member of the Polish National Opera’s Young Artists’ Programme (Opera Academy) at Teatr Wielki in Warsaw where he most recently worked, in preparation for the competition in Bucharest, with Izabela Kłosińska, Eytan Pessen, and Matthias Rexroth.

In addition to earning awards at numerous vocal competitions, Konik has performed with the Baltic Opera in Gdańsk, the Silesian Opera in Bytom, the Silesian Philharmonic in Katowice, and the Warsaw Chamber Opera, among other ensembles.

During the Yale School of Music’s May 2016 commencement ceremonies, Konik was presented with the Horatio Parker Memorial Prize, an award named after the School’s first dean that is given to a student whom the faculty feel is “best fulfilling Dean Parker’s lofty ideals.”


Published August 24, 2016
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David Kaplan appointed Lecturer in Piano at UCLA

David Kaplan | Photo by Samantha West

David Kaplan | Photo by Samantha West

Pianist David Kaplan ’07MM, ’08MMA, ’14DMA has been appointed Lecturer in Piano for the 2016-2017 academic year at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Kaplan has appeared in programs presented by the Ravinia Festival, National Gallery of Art, Tanglewood Music Center, Mostly Mozart Festival, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among others. He is a core member of Decoda, an Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall, and is the artistic director of Lyrica Chamber Music, a concert series in Chatham Township, New Jersey.

In March 2015, Kaplan presented New Dances of the League of David, a piano suite that juxtaposes contemporary works with Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6, at Le Poisson Rouge, in New York. Among those from whom Kaplan solicited new music for the suite are Yale School of Music faculty composers Martin Bresnick and Hannah Lash ’12AD, and YSM alumni Samuel Carl Adams ’10MM, Timo Andres ’07BA ’09MM, Ted Hearne ’08MM, Andrew Norman ’09AD, Caroline Shaw ’07MM, and Augusta Read Thomas MM. Anthony Tommasini included Kaplan’s performance on The New York Times’ list of “The Best Classic Music of 2015.”

Throughout his time at Yale, Kaplan studied with Claude Frank. Prior to enrolling at Yale, Kaplan studied with Walter Ponce at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and, by way of a Fulbright grant, studied conducting with Lutz Köhler at the Universität der Künste Berlin.


Published August 19, 2016
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Ralph Kirshbaum receives honorary doctorate from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Carol Coburn Grigor, left, a member of the Yale School of Music's Board of Advisors, and Ralph Kirshbaum, in Glasgow, Scotland

Carol Colburn Grigor ’69MMA, a member of the Yale School of Music’s Board of Advisors, and Ralph Kirshbaum, in Glasgow, Scotland

Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum ’68BA was one of three acclaimed artists to receive an honorary degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in July. Jeffrey Sharkey ’88MM, the school’s principal, recognized Kirshbaum with an Honorary Doctor of Music Degree during graduation ceremonies on July 5. Actor David Tennant and choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne were also recognized.

“David, Sir Matthew and Ralph are all world leaders in their fields and we’re thrilled to celebrate their achievements,” Sharkey was quoted in a news release as saying. “This creates also a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage with such inspirational individuals as they prepare to enter into the professional world in their own right.”

A former student of Aldo Parisot, Kirshbaum has worked with many of the world’s most renowned ensembles and artists. For three decades, he performed and recorded in a trio with violinist György Pauk and YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl. He is the Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Violoncello and chair of the string department at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. He taught previously at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and, in 2012, founded the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Kirshbaum, a Texas native, to a five-year term on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Published August 16, 2016
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Jay Wadley composes score for Sundance hit “Indignation”

Jay Wadley

Jay Wadley

James Schamus’ film Indignation, which is based on Philip Roth’s 2008 novel of the same name, opens tomorrow in theaters across the United States. The film’s score was composed by Jay Wadley ’07MM ’08AD, who studied at the Yale School of Music with Marin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, and Ezra Laderman.

“He wanted something that was very classical,” Wadley said of Schamus’ direction, “and he knew that was my background.”

Reached by phone at his New York City-based composer collective/production company Found Objects, which he and fellow Yale School of Music alumnus Trevor Gureckis ’07MM started during graduate school in New Haven, Wadley said he first worked with Schamus when the latter directed “That Film About Money” and “The Second Part of That Film About Money,” two short documentaries released in 2014 as part of Morgan Spurlock’s We the Economy series. When they first met, Wadley said, he and Schamus talked about classical music and about Wadley’s experiences helping to orchestrate Rufus Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna and his song cycle All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.


Published July 28, 2016
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Christoph Campestrini appointed Kapellmeister of Vienna’s Hofkapelle

Christoph Campestrini

Christoph Campestrini

Yale School of Music alumnus Christoph Campestrini ’92MM has been appointed Kapellmeister at Vienna’s Hofkapelle, home of the Vienna Boys’ Choir. With the appointment, Campestrini joins the ranks of the historically important and influential musicians who have been members of the Hofkapelle. He will lead the famed Hofmusikkapelle, which includes the Vienna Boys’ Choir and members of the Vienna State Opera orchestra and chorus.

“Being aware of the 500-year tradition of this institution that included Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, and Anton Bruckner is a humbling experience and at the same time requires a commitment for the highest excellence,” he said. “In addition to my work in Europe, I also look forward to continuing to come to the United States and Canada several times every season and renewing cultural ties that go back to my time at the Yale School of Music, of which I have only the best memories.”

Campestrini has worked with such internationally acclaimed artists as Gidon Kremer, Julian Rachlin, Alisa Weilerstein, Lang Lang, and Julia Fischer and has led many of the world’s renowned orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the radio orchestras of Moscow, Frankfurt, Budapest, and Vienna, and the national orchestras of Mexico and Taiwan, among others. He appears regularly as a guest conductor in the United States and Canada, having led the Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa), Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, and Orchestra Métropolitain in Montreal.

Born in Linz, Austria, Campestrini studied at The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.



Published July 20, 2016
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Kensho Watanabe appointed assistant conductor of Philadelphia Orchestra

Kensho Watanabe

Kensho Watanabe

Kensho Watanabe ’09BS ’10MM has been appointed assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he’ll serve under acclaimed Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Watanabe studied conducting with Otto-Werner Mueller at the Curtis Institute of Music, earning a Diploma in 2013. As the school’s first Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow, Watanabe was mentored for two years by Nézet-Séguin and had “incredible access” to the Philadelphia Orchestra, with which he’s worked as a substitute violinist. Watanabe has directed numerous Curtis Opera Theatre productions and served as an assistant to Nézet-Séguin for Opera de Montréal’s 2015 production of Elektra.

Watanabe studied molecular, cell, and developmental biology at Yale College, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 2009. He earned his master’s degree in violin from the Yale School of Music, where he studied, as he had as an undergraduate, with Syoko Aki.

“Being at Yale really sparked my interest in conducting,” Watanabe said, citing Yale Symphony Orchestra Music Director Toshiyuki Shimada, whom he assisted as an undergraduate, as a particularly supportive figure.

The summer after completing his undergraduate degree, and in the summers of 2010 and 2011, Watanabe studied with Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School and Summer Music Festival, where his interest in conducting took hold and led him to Mueller’s studio at Curtis.

In addition to his work with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Watanabe’s upcoming schedule includes appearances with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra Métropolitain in Montreal.

Looking forward to his work in Philadelphia, Watanabe said, “I’ve really grown up with this orchestra. I’ve learned so much from this orchestra.”

Watanabe’s appointment begins with the 2016-2017 Philadelphia Orchestra season.

Published July 19, 2016
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An Tran ’16MM wins first prize at 2016 Hamilton International Guitar Competition

An Tran

An Tran

An Tran ’16MM won first prize at the 2016 Hamilton International Guitar Competition in Ontario, Canada, earning a cash prize, custom handmade guitar, and an appearance at the 2017 Hamilton Guitar Festival.

At age 12, Tran won the top prize at the Vietnam National Guitar Competition. He has since won the Lincoln Academy of Illinois’ Student Laureate Award and top prizes at the Society of American Musicians Guitar Competition, Evanston Music Club Competition, and Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra Young Artist International Competition, among others. In 2010, Tran earned the Best Overseas Student Award, which was presented by the vice president of Vietnam. In 2015, he was invited to perform Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Hanoi Philharmonic Orchestra.

A native of Hanoi, Tran studied at the Vietnam National Academy of Music, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from North Park University in Chicago, where he studied with Julie Goldberg and Tom Zelle. In May 2016, Tran graduated with his Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Verdery. While at Yale, he also served as a Teaching Artist for YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative. Tran will begin pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Northwestern University in the fall.


Published July 15, 2016
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Clarinetist Igal Levin joins Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra

Igal Levin

Igal Levin

Igal Levin ’13MM has been appointed principal clarinetist of the Israel Netanya Kibbutz Orchestra by new music director and acclaimed trombonist Christian Lindberg. Levin previously served as principal clarinetist of the Israel Chamber Orchestra, Ashdod Symphony Orchestra, and Racine Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin.

Levin has performed as a guest with numerous orchestras around the world including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Shanghai Oriental Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Virtuosi, Lübeck Philharmonic Orchestra, Lübeck Opera, Kiel Opera, Israel Philharmonic, Israel Symphony Orchestra, Israeli Opera, and Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. His appearances have taken him to such celebrated venues as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Berlin Philharmonie, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and Carnegie Hall.

Levin studied with Yitzhak Catap at the Israeli Music Conservatory where he graduated with honors. He earned a General Artistic Training Diploma from the Musikhochschule Lübeck in Germany and a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music and studied at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. His teachers have included Sabine Meyer, David Shifrin, Reiner Wehle, Steve Cohen, and J. Lawrie Bloom.

Published July 13, 2016
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[ students & alumni ]

Robert Bennesh founds Festival of Sacred Arts in Sweden

Porträtt Robert Bennesh

Robert Bennesh

Robert Bennesh ’14MM ’15AD, director of music at the Church of Sweden in Skanör-Falsterbo, has founded the Festival of Sacred Arts, which will launch its first season on August 11. Located in Bennesh’s home parishes in Skanör-Falsterbo, the festival seeks to provide a space in which music of various genres, art, drama, poetry, and nature intersect. The four-day event features 13 concerts, eight lectures, and other performances and exhibitions.

The festival’s name is inspired by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where Bennesh did course work while he was a student at the Yale School of Music.

“The artistic idea of the festival is to inspire the visitor to seek for the sacred in different art forms, in conjunction to each other, and in relation to nature,” he said. “What one finds sacred is highly personal and we hope this will be the starting point for interesting discussions.”

Since his appointment to the Church of Sweden in the fall of 2015, Bennesh has been developing a unique music program at the two medieval churches of Skanör-Falsterbo. Through grants, he has raised approximately $80,000 to develop the festival, forming partnerships with the local and provincial governments as well as other parishes, the diocese, various businesses, and individuals. MORE

Published July 12, 2016
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