[ students & alumni ]

Guitarist Rupert Boyd ’08AD releases new album

Rupert Boyd

Rupert Boyd

Classical guitarist Rupert Boyd ’08AD has released a new solo CD, Fantasías, on the Little Mystery Records label. The album was first released in Boyd’s native Australia and was released in the United States in June.

Guitar Salon International uploaded three videos featuring tracks from the recording, including Astor Piazzolla’s Otono Porteno, the album’s opening track.

Boyd’s playing has received overwhelmingly positive reviews both in the United States and in Australia. In the words of The Canberra Times, “Boyd handles shifts in style and period with aplomb … this whole disc is a high-quality achievement by one of Canberra’s impressive talents.” The guitar review site Minor 7th also heaped praise on the album, writing that “the recording took place in an English church and one can almost see the smile of satisfaction and approval on God’s face as if in validation of Boyd’s flawless technique and expressive interpretation. Fantasías is a ‘must hear’ experience for the avid classical guitar audience …  You won’t be disappointed.” MORE

Published October 21, 2016
Share This Comments

Zhenni Li ’14AD wins second prize at Edvard Grieg International Piano Competition


Zhenni Li performs during the International Edvard Grieg Piano Competition

Pianist Zhenni Li ’14AD recently won Second Prize and took home the Orchestra’s Prize and a cash award at the 2016 Edvard Grieg International Piano Competition, in Bergen, Norway. The Orchestra’s Prize is awarded by members of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, with which Li performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, Op. 58, during the final round of the competition in September.

The biennial competition, now in its 15th year, requires participants to perform solo and chamber music by Edvard Grieg and other composers, offering the ascendant pianists an opportunity to perform Grieg’s works in his hometown.

“It turned out to be the most wonderful experience one can imagine,” Li said of performing two of Grieg’s songs in the semifinal round of the competition. “The first few rounds were held next to his house and facing his hut, where he composed. Very inspiring.”


Published October 18, 2016
Share This Comments

YSM students perform in London

From left: Sun-A Park, Laura Park, Sophia Mockler, Eric Adamshick, Joshua Newburger, and Jessica Pray

YSM students, from left, Sun-A Park, Laura Park, Sophia Mockler, Eric Adamshick, Joshua Newburger, and Jessica Pray

This past week, students from the Yale School of Music, along with YSM Dean Robert Blocker and Director of Communications and Alumni Affairs Donna Yoo, traveled to London where they gave concerts, for Yale alumni and friends, at the Royal Automobile Club and the Royal College of Music. As part of the visit, which was made possible by Helen Chung-Halpern and Abel Halpern ’88BA (each is a member of YSM’s Board of Advisors), Blocker presented a master class to graduate and undergraduate student piano trios at the Royal College of Music.

The YSM students who traveled to London are violinists Sophia Mockler ’17MM and Laura Park ’18MM, violist Joshua Newburger ’17MM, cellist Eric Adamshick ’17MM, pianist Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA, and soprano Jessica Pray ’17MM. Mockler, Laura Park, Newburger, and Adamshick performed as the Béla Quartet. MORE

Published October 6, 2016
Share This Comments

Helen Hagan’s grave finally marked in overdue ceremony

dsc_4597A long overdue ceremony was held at New Haven’s Evergreen Cemetery on Thursday, September 29, to honor Helen Eugenia Hagan, who died in 1964 and was buried alongside her parents, albeit without individual mention. A headstone was placed on Hagan’s grave as members of the local community and others who’ve been connected to Hagan’s legacy acknowledged her extraordinary life.

Elizabeth Foxwell, who organized a crowd-funding campaign to permanently mark Hagan’s resting place — a campaign to which the Yale School of Music contributed — said, “Journalist, professor, Yale alum, and future NAACP activist William Pickens wrote the following about Hagan in 1916: ‘I remember […] I settled back into an easy chair to listen when the little girl was led in by her mother and seated at the piano just to show me. She showed me and has since shown hundreds of thousands that genius […] will out.'” Foxwell, who edited the 2015 anthology In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I (Oconee Spirit Press), also quoted from a letter Hagan penned in 1932 to W.E.B. Du Bois describing the struggles she was experiencing.


Helen Hagan is believed to have been the Yale School of Music’s first female African American student. She graduated from the School in 1912 and soon thereafter became the only African American performer to travel to France to entertain Black troops stationed there after World War I. Hagan was the first African American pianist to perform a recital at a New York concert venue. While at Yale, Hagan performed with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and composed and performed her Piano Concerto in C minor, which, sadly, is the only one of her compositions to have survived. MORE

Published September 30, 2016
Share This Comments

YSM Class of 2016 presents gift to School

Commencement 2016

Yale School of Music Commencement, May 2016

In May, the Yale School of Music’s Class of 2016 became the first graduating class to present a gift to the School. More than half the class’ 98 members contributed to the gift, which exceeded $1,000.

A seat in Sprague Hall (seat C101) will be adorned with a plaque identifying the Class of 2016 as having made a contribution to the School.

Acknowledging the gift during the School’s Commencement ceremony in May, Dean Robert Blocker said to the graduating class, “You’re starting a very, very important tradition, and the tradition is more about staying connected to your School and to this community and what has become your family than it is giving a gift.” MORE

Published September 27, 2016
Share This Comments

Juliana Hall ’87MM premieres song-cycle at Norfolk

Juliana Hall

Juliana Hall

O Mistress Mine, a song-cycle for countertenor by composer Juliana Hall ’87MM, received its world-premiere performance on Aug. 5 at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. The piece, which is set to texts from Shakespeare’s plays, was performed by Darryl Taylor with the composer at the piano. The song-cycle was written for countertenor Brian Asawa, who was to perform the premiere but died in April. The Norfolk performance honored Asawa’s memory and recognized the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

The Aug. 5 performance of O Mistress Mine kicked off a season in which Hall’s vocal works Christina’s WorldRoosters, The Bells, and How Do I Love Thee?; and Upon This Summer’s Day will be premiered in programs of the Cincinnati Song Initiative, the Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project in Princeton, New Jersey, and the London Festival of American Music, respectively. Other song-cycles by Hall have been programmed for performances this season in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Hall studied composition at the Yale School of Music with Martin Bresnick, Leon Kirchner, and Frederic Rzewski. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989. Hall has composed works for such acclaimed vocalists as Asawa, baritone David Malis, and soprano Dawn Upshaw and has had her music performed around the world.


Published September 16, 2016
Share This Comments

Rolston String Quartet wins Banff International String Quartet Competition

Rolston String Quartet | Photo by Tianxiao Zhang Photography

Rolston String Quartet | Photo by Tianxiao Zhang Photography

The Rolston String Quartet (’16 Norfolk) has been named the First Prize Laureate of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition, which concluded after five rounds on Saturday, September 4. “In addition to a generous cash prize of $25,000,” the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity announced, “the Rolston String Quartet will benefit from a comprehensive custom-designed three-year career development program including a professional recording at Banff Centre and a performance tour in over 50 North American and European cities.” The ensemble also won the Esterházy Foundation Prize and the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance Prize.

“This young quartet now has the opportunity to share their artistry with the world,” Barry Shiffman, the competition’s executive director, was quoted as saying.

The Tesla Quartet, whose members—including violist Edward Kaplan ’10MM ’11AD—attended Norfolk in 2011, earned Second Prize at the BISQC, receiving a $12,000 award. The Tesla Quartet also won the R.S. Williams & Sons Haydn Prize and the Canadian Commission Prize, each of which came with a $3,000 award. MORE

Published September 6, 2016
Share This Comments

Alumnus Jeff Fuller joins YSM Jazz Initiative

Jeff Fuller | Photo by Studio Duda Photography

Jeff Fuller | Photo by Studio Duda Photography

Bassist and composer Jeff Fuller ’67BA ’69MM is joining the Yale School of Music’s recently announced Jazz Initiative as an ensemble coach. He’ll work alongside Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, who will teach a course in improvisation and coach jazz combos.

As a performer, Fuller has worked with such acclaimed jazz artists as Mose Allison, Dizzy Gillespie, “Papa” Jo Jones, Gerry Mulligan, and Clark Terry, among others. He’s a leader of the New Haven-based Brazilian jazz trio Sambeleza, has toured with ensembles led by Paquito D’Rivera and Hilton Ruiz, and has composed and arranged music for the salsa band Irazú, whose recordings have featured Arturo Sandoval and Tata Güines. Fuller has received commissions from the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and Hartford Symphony Orchestra and has had his music recorded by the Haven String Quartet. His first CD of original music, The Call from Within, was released in 2014. His second, Shoreline Blues, came out in May 2016.

Fuller, who studied composition at the Yale School of Music with Bülent Arel, taught composition and jazz theory and conducted jazz ensembles at ACES Educational Center for the Arts for many years. He currently teaches and leads the Premiere Jazz Ensemble at Neighborhood Music School.

Professor Thomas C. Duffy who directs the University’s bands and oversees the YSM Jazz Initiative, said Fuller brings to the program “expertise with combos, big bands, Latin jazz, and traditional jazz” and expertise in Cuban and Brazilian rhythms. Fuller has been “a major figure in the jazz scene since I arrived here in 1982,” Duffy said.

A key component of the Initiative is the Yale Jazz Ensemble, which is being reconstituted after being suspended two years ago. Formerly an extracurricular undergraduate organization, the Yale Jazz Ensemble, under Duffy’s direction, will be open to all Yale students. MORE

Published August 31, 2016
Share This Comments

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.” MORE

Published August 26, 2016
Share This Comments

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. MORE

Published August 24, 2016
Share This Comments