YSM Student News | June 2018

Ji Su Jung

NeoArctic, a large-scale multimedia work by composer Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’22DMA, was staged at the Southbank Center in London, in May.

Composers Ethan Braun ’21DMA and Liliya Ugay ’16MM ’22DMA have been named 2018 CULTIVATE fellows and are currently participating in the emerging composers institute at Copland House, in Cortlandt Manor, NY.

Tubist Jake Fewx ’18MM ’19MMA will compete in August as a semifinalist in the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival competition, in Twin Lake, Mich.

Percussionist Ji Su Jung ’19MM won the Houston Symphony’s Ima Hogg Competition in early June. In addition to receiving the Grace Woodson Memorial Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize, Jung took home the Herman Shoss Audience Choice Award. As the winner of the competition, Jung will perform in July as a soloist with the Houston Symphony.

Flutist Benjamin Morency ’18MM won the Boston Woodwind Society’s Doriot Anthony Dwyer Merit Award Competition in April.

The New York Times described composer Peter S. Shin ’20MMA as “a composer to watch” in “The Week in Classical Music,” which includes a review of the premiere of his orchestral piece Slant.

Violist Marlea Simpson’19MM has earned a tenured position in the Grant Park Orchestra, in Chicago, Ill.

Published June 6, 2018
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Violist Josip Kvetek ’18MM, on being a soloist with an orchestra of his peers

Josip Kvetek ’18MM

When violist Josip Kvetek ’18MM played Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola on a recital here at YSM last year, it wasn’t with an eye on performing the piece with the Yale Philharmonia, which he’ll do on Friday, Jan. 26. “It’s not very serious music,” Kvetek said, explaining that the Paganini sonata is a fun piece of music, a quirky sonata that just happens to be, in the words of principal conductor Peter Oundjian, “probably the most difficult piece ever written for viola.” After Kvetek’s recital performance last year, his teacher, Ettore Causa, suggested that he enter the Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition, which Kvetek won in April 2017.

The sonata, Kvetek said, is “not standard repertoire for viola.” Paganini, he explained, “commissioned a piece from Berlioz” to be played on a five-string viola. Berlioz, in response, composed Harold in Italy, an orchestral piece with viola solos. “Paganini didn’t like the first draft of the piece,” Kvetek said, “so he decided to write his own piece.” The result is “a sonata for solo instrument and orchestra, which is very odd.”

Kvetek will perform the piece on a standard viola, an instrument without an added E string, which means “I have to play with an improvised thumb position” to execute passages in the instrument’s upper register. In terms of interpretation, Kvetek said, “it’s very simple, harmonically and melodically. It’s just simple from every angle.” Still, it’s a piece that can easily feel like blocks of virtuoso passages arranged without much cohesion. “It starts becoming 50 little tasks,” Kvetek said, “and not one, coherent story. The part that helps with that is it’s very operatic. It’s much easier if you let go of the classical way of thinking.”

Now in the second year of YSM’s master of music degree program, studying with Causa, and with Steven Tenenbom while Causa is on sabbatical, Kvetek has done his share of playing with the Yale Philharmonia as a member of the orchestra’s viola section. On Jan. 26, he’ll be out front, next to guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn, who’ll lead a program that also includes Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919 version) and Franck’s Symphony in D minor. Performing as the soloist with an orchestra of his peers is “a little bit more stressful,” Kvetek said, “because you do know all the people. The benefit is that they’re very supportive and very helpful in the process. Everybody is hoping or cheering that you play the best you can. It becomes much easier to play in that environment.” The stress, he said, comes from wanting “to present yourself well” in front of one’s peers.

Given the operatic nature of the Paganini sonata, Kvetek said, “The majority of it is on me to deliver a performance that other people can follow.” Part of that responsibility, to be sure, falls on Solzhenitsyn, with whom Kvetek hasn’t worked. Basing his impressions on YouTube videos, Kvetek described Solzhenitsyn as an expressive conductor, which “will help me connect with the orchestra and will help bring this piece together.” Because there’s no “prescribed way of how you perform” the Paganini, Kvetek said, “It’s up to me to play it just the way I want to play it.”

On Friday, Jan. 26, guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn leads the Yale Philharmonia in a program that includes Stravinsky’s spellbinding Firebird Suite (1919 version), Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, with 2017 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Josip Kvetek ’18MM, and Franck’s inventive and affecting Symphony in D minor.

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Published January 18, 2018
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Ignat Solzhenitsyn, on “Firebird” and working with young musicians

Ignat Solzhenitsyn

Principal conductor Peter Oundjian has said that guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn, who’ll lead the Yale Philharmonia in a performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919 version, from the composer’s ballet score) on Friday, Jan. 26, “particularly wanted to do this piece with our students.” Solzhenitsyn recently pointed out that it’s “one of the very, very greatest orchestral paintings in our repertoire and a piece that, of course, is predicated upon the limitlessness of imagination.” Imagination, Solzhenitsyn said, is most fertile and open to influence during one’s youth. The Firebird Suite “is really a piece that, more than anything, is for young people,” he said. “It will showcase the Yale Philharmonia to beautiful effect.” The orchestra, in turn, will provide a capable vehicle for the stuff of Stravinsky’s imagination — and for the Russian legend that the composer explored — which will no doubt inspire the Woolsey Hall audience, just as it has long captivated audiences around the world.

With Solzhenitsyn, who serves as principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and conductor laureate of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Yale Philharmonia will also perform Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, with 2017 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Josip Kvetek ’18MM, and Franck’s Symphony in D minor. Kvetek recently said that the Paganini is “not standard repertoire for the viola,” and that while it’s “very simple, harmonically and melodically,” it’s not a piece that on its own tells “one coherent story.”

“The part that helps with that,” Kvetek said, “is it’s very operatic.” Kvetek “nailed it,” Solzhenitsyn agreed, saying the Paganini is a show piece, one that’s very difficult for the soloist. What makes it fun, Solzhenitsyn said, is the very notion that Paganini, a virtuoso violinist, produced such a piece for the viola. “Charm, wit, teasing, easy grace — those kind of words inform this work,” he said.

Asked about the Franck being a piece that’s gone in and out of favor with orchestras, Solzhenitsyn bristled. “It’s a concept I still have trouble wrapping my head around,” he said, pointing to the obvious fact that “the intrinsic worth of ‘X’ has nothing to do with if it’s popular or not, or has very little to do with it.” He’s among those who don’t understand why the Franck symphony is not performed more frequently, give that it is, undeniably, a “touchstone of the Romantic symphonic repertoire.”

“The beauty, the power, the innocence, the honesty of this music, I think, speaks for itself,” Solzhenitsyn said.

Seeing Solzhenitsyn on the podium will be a new experience for members of the Philharmonia. And working with Yale students, for Solzhenitsyn, will present a different opportunity than the experiences he’s had leading ensembles of more seasoned musicians. A collective sense of wonder and discovery that is at times diminished in a professional ensemble, he said, is right there, in all its glory, for everyone to see in a young ensemble.

On Friday, Jan. 26, guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn leads the Yale Philharmonia in a program that includes Stravinsky’s spellbinding Firebird Suite (1919 version), Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, with 2017 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Josip Kvetek ’18MM, and Franck’s inventive and affecting Symphony in D minor.

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Published January 17, 2018
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Rolston String Quartet named YSM’s new fellowship quartet-in-residence

Rolston String Quartet | Photo by Tianxiao Zhang Photography

The Rolston String Quartet ’16Norfolk has been named the new fellowship quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music. The group, whose previous residencies include the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2016, will begin their tenure at YSM this fall. While at Yale, the quartet will work closely with the Brentano String Quartet — YSM’s quartet-in-residence — perform recitals, and participate in education-outreach programs.

“The Rolston String Quartet is very eager to come to New Haven as the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence,” the group said in a statement. “We are incredibly optimistic about the possibilities for development and growth provided by Yale’s stimulating environment. We can’t wait to meet the Yale students and faculty who will illuminate and influence this new experience. Working closely with the Brentano Quartet is a dream come true. They are endlessly generous and inspiring people whose artistic spirits are to be admired. We look forward to deepening our musical understandings, refining our interpretations, and benefiting from their extensive professional experience.

“We will be so lucky to be able to coach chamber ensembles made up of Yale (undergraduate) students; this opportunity is a rare one that will yield immense insight into the complexities of teaching music. The fellowship program at Yale will aid our growth as we cultivate an ensemble that reflects the values of community, the highest levels of artistic and academic excellence, and the important traditions of chamber music,” the group said.

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Published May 16, 2017
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Argus Quartet wins Senior Strings division of M-Prize competition

The Argus Quartet, left to right: cellist Jo Whang ’09MM, violist Dana Kelley, violinist Jason Issokson, and violinist Clara Kim

The Argus Quartet, YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, has been named the first place winner in the Senior Strings division of the University of Michigan’s M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition. In addition to a cash prize of $20,000, the quartet will return to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for a residency during the 2017-18 academic year.

Now in its second year, the M-Prize seeks “to identify and showcase the highest caliber of international chamber arts ensembles,” according to the competition’s website. In addition to distributing more than $200,000 of cash prizes (an increase from last year) the M-Prize provides competition winners with platforms for professional development and performance opportunities.

This year, 29 applicants were selected to compete as semifinalists for the grand prize in Michigan. The ensembles, which are made up of 112 artists from seven countries, were selected from an pool of more than 100 ensembles representing 41 countries. In addition to increased prize coffers, this year’s competition featured an interview round during which each of the senior division winners (strings, winds, and other) were asked to advocate on behalf of their ensemble’s repertoire and program plan.

Having been praised by the Calgary Herald for its “supreme melodic control and total authority,” the Argus Quartet is quickly gaining a reputation as one of today’s most dynamic and versatile young ensembles.

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Published May 10, 2017
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Inside YSM: Dana Kelley, Argus Quartet

Dana Kelley, viola

We recently asked new Argus Quartet violist Dana Kelley about her experience joining a quartet whose other three members have been playing together for three and a half years.

“The process of joining a pre-existing quartet has been both exciting and challenging,” she said. “On one hand, it’s great to jump into a group that is already in motion. The other three members, Jason, Clara, and Joann, know each other very well and understand each other’s musical tendencies and preferences. They’ve also had the opportunity to experiment with rehearsal techniques and develop a group sound, as well as create an image and goals for the quartet. Being able to become a part of Argus after much of the groundwork has been laid has been a privilege for me. 

“On the other hand,” Dana said, “I am now adding my own personal and musical quirks to the equation. I only met the other three members recently, so we are learning not only how to play music together, but also how to communicate and get along with one another. Fortunately, I felt immediately welcome upon joining Argus. They’ve even tolerated my offbeat humor so far! Every rehearsal and performance has been a chance for us to learn more about and understand one another. String quartet playing is so much about the unspoken bonds and the development of trust between the musicians; the more time we spend together, the stronger these bonds will become.”

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Published March 24, 2017
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Argus Quartet welcomes new member

The Argus Quartet, left to right: Joann Whang, Dana Kelley, Jason Issokson, and Clara Kim

The Argus Quartet, left to right: Joann Whang, Dana Kelley, Jason Issokson, and Clara Kim

The Argus Quartet, the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, has welcomed a new member, violist Dana Kelley, to the ensemble. “Dana is a truly dynamic performer with an inquisitive spirit, and we are deeply impressed by her musicianship and her personality,” the quartet said in a statement. “We are growing to admire her more and more every day, and it’s already clear that she’s going to put a major imprint on our quartet’s artistic voice and vision. We look forward to many years of working together, and we can’t wait to share her music-making with audiences at Yale and beyond.” Kelley joins violinists Clara Kim and Jason Issokson and cellist Joann Whang ’09MM in the quartet. MORE

Published January 19, 2017
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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
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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
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[ students & alumni ]

Daniel Stone ’16 MM to join the Calgary Philharmonic

Daniel-StoneDaniel Stone ’16 MM has been appointed section violist in the Calgary Philharmonic, and will begin his tenure with the the orchestra in fall 2016.

Stone is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Music where he studied with Ettore Causa. A native of Chicago, he previously studied at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with Stephen Wyrczynski of the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as with Desirée Ruhstrat of the Lincoln Trio. During the summer season, he has performed at the Norfolk, Sarasota, Tanglewood, and Aspen music festivals. In August 2015, he was featured in Norfolk’s Gala Concert with Emanuel A. While at Indiana University, he performed with the European Union Youth Orchestra as a guest American musician. As a soloist, he has appeared on Chicago’s radio station WFMT for the program “Introductions.”

Stone is also a self-taught music editor and arranger, and his arrangements of Balkan folk tunes are frequently performed by the Black Oak Ensemble. Upcoming performances include a Solo Bach collaboration with the New Haven Ballet and concerts at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival.

Published May 26, 2016
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