Pianist Szymon Nehring wins Harvard Musical Association’s Foote Award

Szymon Nehring

Pianist and current School of Music artist diploma candidate Szymon Nehring has won the Harvard Musical Association’s 2018 Arthur W. Foote Award, which is presented “to instrumentalists of the highest musical caliber of university or conservatory level who are about to launch professional careers,” according to language on the association’s website. Nehring will perform at a private event for association members and their guests on Feb. 2 in Boston.

Nehring “was clearly the consensus” winner among jury members this year, John Anthony Schemmer, the chairman and vice president of the HMA, said. “He’s still very young, but he has already a very decided personality of his own and he has the ability to draw in and engage the audience.”

Violinist and current YSM artist diploma candidate Sirena Huang and organist David Simon ’17MM, who is pursuing his doctorate at the School of Music (and studying at the Institute of Sacred Music), also inspired members of the Foote Award jury. They “made very favorable and distinguished impressions on us,” Schemmer said.

Previous Foote Award winners from YSM include organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM ’03AD (2003) and pianists Ryo Yanagitani ’04MM ’05AD ’08MMA and Henry Kramer ’13AD ’15MMA (2005 and 2014, respectively). Schemmer, who graduated from Yale College in 1968 with a degree in music theory and composition, said the School of Music’s “profile has been rising for several decades,” and that YSM’s students are “absolutely superb.”

Nehring is the latest to reflect that assessment. Upon reviewing Nehring’s recorded performances, one jury member said “he had the audience engaged before he began playing,” according to Schemmer, who, in turn, said that Nehring “is prepared with these pieces in the most extraordinary way.”

Nehring, who studies at the School of Music with Boris Berman, arrived at Yale in fall 2017 having won the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv, Israel, in May. In October, Nehring was named the Personality of the Year as part of the 2017 Polish Music Coryphaeus Awards and was honored that month alongside other award recipients in Warsaw, Poland. Before enrolling at YSM, he studied with Stefan Wojtas at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The Harvard Musical Association was founded by Harvard alumni in 1837 but is not affiliated with that university.

SZYMON NEHRING

Published January 11, 2018
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YSM now accepting applications for fall 2018 enrollment

Violinist Wynton Grant ’17MM. Photo by Matt Fried

The School of Music is now accepting applications for enrollment in fall 2018. “We have openings in all areas, including the tuba and harpsichord studios and the orchestral conducting program,” Donna Yoo, YSM’s director of admissions and alumni affairs, said. “It is unusual for us to have available spaces across all programs, and we are looking forward to welcoming new students to all areas of study.”

The Admissions Office anticipates interest in the School’s revamped B.A./M.M. program, which is now open to applications from high-school seniors. The program, Yoo said, “should appeal to students who are interested in pursuing both academic and musical excellence at an Ivy League institution.”

The School will announce available fellowship opportunities in December. These would include openings in the string quartet fellowship program and the recently launched collaborative piano program. Applications for the Morse Postgraduate Teaching Artist Fellowship will also be accepted starting in December.

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Published September 15, 2017
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Achievements celebrated at annual Honors Dinner

Carol Colburn Grigor, recipient of the Samuel Simons Sanford Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Samuel Simons Sanford Award winner Carol Colburn Grigor, and Robert Blocker

The Yale School of Music held its annual Honors Dinner on Sunday, May 7, welcoming students and alumni, faculty and staff, and distinguished guests to the Yale Commons for an evening of celebration. After thanking recently retired staff members for their service and acknowledging the University officers who were in attendance, YSM Dean Robert Blocker presented Carol Colburn Grigor ’69MMA CBE with the School’s highest honor, the Samuel Simons Sanford Award. Grigor, Blocker, said, “is one of America’s most generous … most thoughtful philanthropists.” Composer and former Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills congratulated Grigor via video.

Willie Ruff, recipient of the Nathan Hale Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Nathan Hale Award recipient Willie Ruff, and Robert Blocker

Dean Blocker, with University President Peter Salovey and Yale Provost Benjamin Polak at his side, presented longtime YSM professor Willie Ruff ’53BM ’54MM, who will retire at the end of the semester, with the University’s prestigious Nathan Hale Award. “He’s changed all our lives,” Blocker said, before attendees were shown a video tribute to Ruff’s life and work. In a nod to the man who indirectly inspired him decades ago to study at YSM, Ruff said, “I thank, most of all, Charlie Parker.” The jazz office in the Yale School of Music’s Adams Center for Musical Arts was recently named in Ruff’s honor.

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award winner Warren Lee, and Robert Blocker

Blocker presented the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award to pianist Warren Lee ’00MM and the Cultural Leadership Citation to retiring Yale Collection of Musical Instruments curator William Nicholas Renouf ’71MMA. The Collection’s director, William Purvis, accepted the Citation on behalf of Renouf, who was unable to attend the Honors Dinner. Before presenting student prizes, Blocker referenced an impressive number of awards and successes earned and realized this year by students, faculty, and staff. He recognized longtime YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl, who plans to retire in the fall, for his dedication to the School community.

At the end of the evening, Blocker told the students in attendance, “Claim the future. It belongs to you. You will make us better.” What follows is a list of the student prizes awarded during YSM’s 2017 Honors Dinner. MORE

Published May 9, 2017
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YSM alumni take home Grammys

Michael Daugherty. Photo by Grant Leighton

Michael Daugherty. Photo by Grant Leighton

Yale School of Music alumnus Michael Daugherty ’82MMA ’87DMA received three 2017 Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, for his Tales of Hemingway for cello and orchestra, which was recorded by cellist Zuill Bailey and the Nashville Symphony conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero. The piece won in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Best Contemporary Classical Composition, and Best Classical Compendium categories.

Tales of Hemingway was commissioned and premiered by Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony, whose live recording of that performance was released on an album with Daugherty’s American Gothic and a 2015 revision of his Once Upon a Castle, a work for organ and orchestra whose solo part was performed by YSM alumnus Paul Jacobs ’02MM. Guerrero recently conducted the Yale Philharmonia in a program that included Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde and Shostakovich Symphony No. 10.

Percussionist David Skidmore ’08MM earned a 2017 Grammy as a member of Third Coast Percussion, whose recording of works by Steve Reich won in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category. MORE

Published February 13, 2017
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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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[ in the press ]

New Haven Convention Celebrates “The King of Instruments”

newberry-organ-consoleWNPR | By Ray Hardman

Organists from throughout the Northeast will gather in New Haven early next week for the Northeast Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists. Among the many activities planned are a series of free, public concerts featuring “The King of Instruments.”

For organists and fans of the instrument, New Haven is practically a mecca for fine organs and quality organists. Yale University alone boasts five world-class instruments.

“We do have many wonderful instruments in New Haven, a lot of organs in different styles, in academic and church settings, and a lot of music making,” said organist Joseph Ripka, one of the organizers of the AGO event. MORE

Published June 29, 2015
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[ alumni ]

Dexter Kennedy ’14MM wins Grand Prix de Chartres de Interprétation

dexter-kennedy-webDexter Kennedy won the 2014 Grand Prix de Chartres de Interprétation at the 24th Concours International D’Orgue de Chartres, one of the oldest most prestigious international organ competitions in the world. He is the first American to win the Grand Prix de Chartres since 1996.

Ordinarily held at Chartres Cathedral, this year’s competition was held October 28–November 8 at the two Paris Conservatories, with the finals in Notre Dame de Paris due to renovations to the Chartres Cathedral nave.

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Published November 13, 2014
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[ alumni ]

Organist Andrew Scanlon ’03 MM releases “Solemn and Celebratory”

scanlon_andrew_webOrganist Andrew Scanlon ’03 MM recently released a new disc entitled “Solemn and Celebratory” (Raven Recordings, 2013).

Featuring music by Cook, Mendelssohn, Bach, Duruflé, Vierne and others, the CD shows the vitality and flexibility of the C.B. Fisk organ in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, North Carolina, where Scanlon is the Director of Music. MORE

Published August 14, 2014
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[ in the press ]

Organist Paul Jacobs performs in memory of Marianne Webb

The Southern Illinoisian 

The renowned organist Paul Jacobs will present a concert next month in honor of the late esteemed organist Marianne Webb.

The performance will start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17 in SIU’s Shyrock Auditorium.

Ms. Webb served as a professor at SIU for almost 50 years and was credited with creating a rich and thriving environment for organ music performance in the region and across the United States. MORE

Published December 26, 2013
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[ alumni ]

Alum Paul Jacobs to direct new organ institute at Oregon Bach Festival

jacobs_paulThe Oregon Bach Festival has announced the appointment of organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM, ’03AD to lead its newly-created Organ Institute in the 2014 season.

The organ figured prominently in the compositions and performance life of J.S. Bach, and the announcement noted that the Oregon Bach Festival is arguably the first major festival to add a component devoted exclusively to organ study and performance.

The inaugural Organ Institute will take place June 30–July 5, 2014, within the Oregon Bach Festival’s schedule of June 25–July 13, 2014. Through the Institute, organists will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the art of organ playing, exploring technique and interpretation through specialized seminars. MORE

Published November 15, 2013
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