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
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YSM announces revamped B.A./M.M. degree program

High-school students can now apply to the Yale School of Music’s bachelor of arts/master of music program. Previously open only to Yale College students making plans for graduate school, the revamped degree path allows high-school students to plan simultaneously for college and graduate school. The program is designed for outstanding instrumentalists who are also interested in pursuing a liberal-arts education.

As had been and remains the case, Yale College students can apply to the program during their junior year. Now, high-school students everywhere can apply to attend college and graduate school at Yale. That is, admission to the five-year program is through acceptance into both Yale College and the School of Music, either after the third year of the College’s bachelor of arts program or before matriculation into Yale College.

The program, in its expanded form, offers undergraduates the opportunity to spread master’s-degree course requirements and study with YSM faculty over the course of five years. Similarly, Yale College students who begin the program in their senior year can complete some requirements toward their master’s degrees before graduating and enrolling at the School of Music.

The revamped B.A./M.M. program should be particularly appealing to pre-college students who might otherwise have trouble deciding whether to go the conservatory or university route. YSM’s B.A./M.M. degree offers students the opportunity to pursue both degrees at the highest levels of education, and at the only music school in the Ivy League.

Among those who’ve taken advantage of the program are Philadelphia Orchestra assistant conductor Kensho Watanabe ’09BS ’10MM, who studied biology at Yale College and violin at YSM, and Charlotte Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Victor Wang ’14BS ’15MM, who also studied biology at Yale College and received his master’s degree from YSM.

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Published August 15, 2017
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