Convocation 2017 defines YSM as place for “Music Among Friends”

School of Music Dean Robert Blocker often describes music as “the currency of hope” and has long championed the School’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. That commitment was reiterated emphatically on Thursday night in his 2017 Convocation speech, “Music Among Friends,” in which he celebrated “courage, inclusivity and diversity, connectedness, tolerance and respect, and compassion.” Upon its founding, he said, “the School of Music opened wide its doors and heart to all those who brought their gifts of talent and intellectual curiosity to campus.” Today, Blocker pointed out, the School stands in solidarity with those whose place in our community hangs in the balance.

“All of us bring anxieties, concerns, and even fears about the human condition to this room tonight,” he told new and returning students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests, “for we live in a time in which human dignity and indeed humanity are being assaulted throughout the world. Nothing, I think, is as incomprehensible and unimaginable as the vengeful rescindment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA. Now, these young people we call Dreamers live with fear rather than hope. This action touches our community profoundly because we are witnesses to the deep grief and stressful uncertainty these Dreamers and their families suddenly face. I do believe reasonable and compassionate leaders among us hear and feel the anguished cries of Dreamers and that they, with our encouragement and support, will find a way to keep their American dream alive.”

Connecting YSM’s values to its mission, Blocker said, “music teaches us that every voice is distinct and important, that each is necessary for harmony, and that is precisely why we know that our combined voices will help repair our troubled world.”

Following University Provost Benjamin Polak’s installation of the incoming class, whose members come from five continents, 25 countries, 26 states, and 58 institutions, Convocation attendees sang Schubert’s An die Musik (with Franz von Schober’s text, as translated by YSM faculty bass-baritone Richard Cross), as is School tradition. Blocker then delivered his remarks before introducing the faculty, alumni, and current students who performed as part of the ceremony.

Violinist Daniel S. Lee ’06MM ’08AD, a newly appointed faculty member in early music whose ensemble, The Sebastians, is in residence at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, performed Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Sonata No. 3 in F major, C. 140 (from Sonatae, violino solo) with faculty harpsichordist Arthur Haas. Bass-baritone Dashon Burton ’11MM sang “Grosser Herr, o starker König,” from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, and “Mache dich, mein Herze rein,” from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, with pianist David Fung ’11MM ’13MMA ’17DMA. And violinist Sirena Huang ’19AD performed Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34, with pianist Lam Wong ’18MM.

The performances added punctuation to Blocker’s remarks, which concluded with him telling members of the incoming class that “here at YSM, you will experience fully the gift that is ‘Music Among Friends,’ and encouraging all in attendance, referencing a favorite story about Robert Louis Stevenson, to “take hope, and make holes in the dark with the beauty and light of your music.”

Photos by Harold Shapiro

Published September 8, 2017
Share This Comments

[ in the press ]

Dashon Burton, Jeanine De Bique break down barriers to classical music

voiceThe Bay State Banner | By Colette Greenstein

“What we have to do in every form of art is really break down the barriers in classical or operatic. In the end, it’s just music and we want everyone to be just as excited about it. I really do believe that by my going to a school and showing children or even college students what it means to be a musician — how this art form is still thriving — I believe by leading through example is the best way to get people excited about classical music,” says classical singer Dashon Burton by phone to the Banner.

The Bronx native began singing at the age of 13 in his school’s choir at the suggestion of a friend. His friend told him that the choir needed more bass. “I had no clue what he was talking about but he said that ‘it would be a lot of fun and I would get to spend some time with some friends.’ I decided to give it a go.” MORE

Published December 10, 2015
Source Share This Comments

Dashon Burton wins first prize in Oratorio Society of New York Vocal Competition

Dashon Burton ’11MM took first prize at the 2012 Oratorio Society of New York Vocal Competition yesterday.

Two other Yale alumni also earned recognition: Jennifer Feinstein ’11MM took the the Frances MacEachron Award for Fourth Place, and Nacole Palmer ’00BA received both the Richard Westenburg Award and the Johannes Somary Award.

As the recipient of the Ruth Lopin Nash Award for First Place, Burton received took home a prize of $7,000.

The Lyndon Woodside Solo Competition was founded in 1975 by the Oratorio Society of New York. The annual competition was designed to encourage the art of oratorio singing and to give talented young singers an opportunity to advance their careers. It is the only major competition to focus exclusively on oratorio singing.

Since the Competition’s inception, more than 3,400 singers have competed. The judges have chosen nearly 100 winners, awarding thousands of dollars in cash prizes. In addition, over 65 performance contracts have been awarded to Competition winners to appear in concert with the Society; many have also been awarded contracts with other major musical organizations. MORE

Published April 16, 2012
Share This Comments