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.

dsc_4584

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.

JULIANA HALL

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

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

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.

DAVID KAPLAN

Published August 19, 2016
Share This Comments

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
Share This Comments

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 Martin 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.

MORE

Published July 28, 2016
Share This Comments