Concert to showcase former students of Boris Berman

Boris Berman

On Wednesday, April 4, several former students of faculty pianist and Horowitz Piano Series Artistic Director Boris Berman will perform a concert that celebrates his 70th birthday, which takes place the day before, and the work Berman has done at YSM since joining the School’s faculty in 1984.

“We have so many wonderful alums among the graduates of the piano department,” Berman said. The challenge in putting this concert together was identifying which alumni would perform. He decided to build a program around recent graduates who have had success at international competitions.

The program will feature sisters Esther Park ’12AD ’13MMA ’17DMA and Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA, performing together as Duo Amadeae; Ronaldo Rolim ’20DMA; Henry Kramer ’13AD ’19DMA; and Larry Weng ’14MMA ’19DMA and Yevgeny Yontov ’14MM ’20DMA, performing as part of the icarus Quartet, which also includes percussionists Jeff Stern ’16AD and Matthew Keown ’16MM ’20DMA. Berman asked each pianist to propose several pieces of repertoire, then “tried to make a varied program of different styles.” The program will feature works by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Albéniz, Ravel, and Bartók.

Duo Amadeae won first prize at the Chicago International Duo Piano Competition in 2016. Rolim won Astral Artists’ 2017 national auditions. Kramer earned second prize at the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Competition, of which Weng was named a laureate. And Yontov was a finalist at the 15th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition.

While the April 4 program showcases Berman’s students, he is quick to celebrate the collaborative nature of YSM’s piano department. When pianists arrive at YSM to study, they can expect to cross paths with all piano faculty members. “We have a department in which we truly enjoy being together,” Berman said. “Very often, I send my students to play for my colleagues.” Two of those colleagues, Wei-Yi Yang and Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, are Berman’s former students. The primary criteria Berman and his piano faculty colleagues use in selecting pianists for admission is artistic individuality. “We are in the position to select people who are both very engaged intellectually and also wonderful artists,” he said of the students who enroll at the School of Music. “It is not by accident that every year we have applicants from the best schools.”

Esther Park enrolled at YSM and joined Berman’s studio after earning an undergraduate and graduate degree from The Juilliard School and then studying at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hannover. “He respected the background that I came from,” she said. “He knew exactly what I needed.” Talking with Berman about music, Park said, is “like speaking with Yoda.”

The piano department at YSM is unique, Park said, because of the faculty members’ relationships. When she was working on music by Schubert or Schumann, Berman would encourage Park to play for Peter Frankl. In turn, pianists from other faculty members’ studios play certain repertoire — Prokofiev, for example — for Berman. Park takes that approach at East Tennessee State University, where she is an assistant professor of piano.

Kramer, who is an assistant teaching professor at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, also spoke about the collaborative environment at YSM. “We all would play for each other and help disseminate ideas that had come to us through Prof. Berman,” Kramer said. “The overall environment at YSM is very intense and expecting the highest caliber of music-making, but at the same time you feel that the fabric of the faculty, students, and administration weaves together to create this wonderful network of support propelling you to achieve your own personal best results. I am honored to have the opportunity to celebrate my school and my professor during this concert.”

Berman points out that he, in turn, learns plenty from his students. Sometimes a student’s performance will remain “a reference for me,” he said, explaining that he will find himself “convinced,” after hearing a particular interpretation.

“It’s a fascinating field,” he said, “and it is a great privilege to work with so many talented people.”

On Wednesday, April 4, alumni who studied with faculty pianist and Horowitz Piano Series Artistic Director Boris Berman return from international successes to perform at the School of Music.

PROGRAM DETAILS & TICKETS

Published April 2, 2018
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YSM Dean Robert Blocker to perform with colleagues, Yale Philharmonia

Robert Blocker

Faculty pianist and YSM Dean Robert Blocker

If there is one composer whose music has always resonated deeply with School of Music Dean Robert Blocker, it is Mozart. “From my earliest memories I loved Mozart,” Blocker said. As a young musician, he said, “there was something magical about the sound.”

On Wednesday, March 7, Blocker will share his love of Mozart’s music with the Horowitz Piano Series audience in a concert featuring members of the School’s piano faculty — including recently retired professor Peter Frankl — and members of the Yale Philharmonia, led by YSM lecturer-in-music and New Haven Symphony Orchestra Music Director William Boughton.

The all-Mozart program, a study in collaboration, to be sure, will begin with a performance, with faculty pianists Boris Berman and Wei-Yi Yang, of Carl Czerny’s piano-six-hands arrangement of the Overture to Le nozze di Figaro. Blocker will then be joined by members of the Yale Philharmonia for a performance of Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, K. 488.

Blocker has played K. 488 more than any other concerto. “I truly love that piece,” he said. “I learned it with my first and only piano teacher before I went to college. I always learn new things in the piece.”

While the Sonata for Piano Four-Hands in B-flat major, K.358/186c, which he will perform with faculty pianist and School of Music Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, is new repertoire for Blocker. The Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos in E-flat major, K. 365/316a, which he will perform with Frankl and the Philharmonia, is one that holds special significance.

“When Peter Frankl celebrated his 70th birthday” in 2005, Blocker said, “he invited me to play the Double Concerto with him.” For this occasion, he said, “it just seems like the most wonderful thing to do — create a program and have Peter be part of that.”

The concert, for Blocker, is a celebration of the education he receives every day at YSM. “Colleagues have given me the kind of musical fabric that makes every day better than it deserves to be. The best thing about this job,” he said, “is learning from students and faculty. I don’t even pretend to know what they know. That’s the joy in this.” As he sees it, the March 7 program offers a chance to have all involved “touching the hem of Mozart’s coat.” It is also an opportunity for Blocker to share with an audience the music that for him remains “a musical compass.”

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Published March 5, 2018
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Faculty pianist Wei-Yi Yang discusses his Nov. 29 Horowitz Piano Series recital program

Wei-Yi Yang

On Nov. 29, faculty pianist Wei-Yi Yang will perform a Horowitz Piano Series recital featuring Schubert’s demanding and lively “Gasteiner” Sonata. The program will also showcase music by Bach and two composers whose work he inspired, Schumann and Liszt.

Talking about the pieces that will begin the concert — Liszt’s Prelude after J.S. Bach, Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, and selections from Schumann’s Four Fugues, Op. 72 — Yang said, “These two important composers of the Romantic period followed in Bach’s footsteps in the works selected here. Although some might associate Bach’s works and methods with precise craftsmanship and mathematical intrigue, here the two Romantics inherited the Baroque master’s obsession and passion in developing motifs and subjects, and grew the smallest musical seedlings into magnificent forests.

“It is striking to hear how two of the greatest Romantic composers used chromaticism and harmonic turns in the mid-1800s, lush and wayward they may be, which at times seem perfectly aligned with Baroque sensibilities,” Yang said. Their work in these pieces, he said, “encapsulates the timelessness of Bach’s vision and influence.”

Yang further explained that “Bach at his core is about the elements of song, dance, and, most of the time, a combination of both. The partitas are cosmopolitan collections of different dance movements that go straight to the heart of Baroque style in elegance and eloquence. Schubert is also always about the song (Lieder) and the dance, although in dance he is singularly obsessed with the Ländler style, which can be felt in the center movements of the D-major Sonata.”

The “Gasteiner,” Yang said, “is unusually sunny and optimistic for Schubert, although it is not without nostalgia and tenderness, while the composer spins out an unusual, virtuosic keyboard style combined with orchestral and quartet sonority and the omnipresent singing lyricism that is deeply embedded in his DNA.”

Asked about the significance of the program being centered on the key of D, Yang said, “I must confess that hearing a tonal thread is very important to me when I listen to and conceive the details of a program.”

 What’s important to him in the end is that “the audience will see and hear the prismatic aspects in music that I strive to unlock, whether it’s about tonal relationships, stylistic influences, or genre crossing.”

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Published November 21, 2017
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YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl to retire after 30 years, having inspired generations

Peter Frankl

By Lucile Bruce

Peter Frankl will retire at the end of this semester, concluding his remarkable 30 year career at the Yale School of Music, where he has touched the minds — and more important, the hearts — of hundreds of students.A virtuoso performer and beloved teacher, Frankl was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1935, into a musical family. His parents were semi-professional musicians who played piano at home. They took their son to many concerts and he remembers hearing “many great artists like Klemperer, Bernstein, and my idol, the pianist Annie Fischer.”

Frankl began playing the piano at age 5. “It has been my passion in life ever since,” he said.

He made his London debut in 1962 and his New York debut with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell in 1967. Since then, he has played on the world’s top stages with the most celebrated orchestras and eminent conductors, including Abbado, Boulez, Davis, Haitink, Maazel, Masur, Muti, and Solti. His world tours have taken him to Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He has appeared more than 20 times at London’s BBC Proms and at many major festivals. Inspired as a young musician by the legendary Leó Weiner, his chamber music teacher, Frankl is also a well- known chamber music performer. For years, the Frankl-Pauk- Kirshbaum Trio traveled the world, and Frankl’s many chamber music partners include the world’s most renowned artists.

It was Boris Berman, professor of piano and coordinator of the piano department at YSM, who invited Frankl to come to Yale, first in 1987 as a visiting teaching artist.

Until that time, Frankl’s occupation was mainly concertizing; he rarely taught, even master classes. “It never occurred to me to teach on a regular basis,” he said. “However, Yale’s reputation attracted me greatly and I decided to give it a try.”

He harbored a deeper reason, however, for teaching. “By then I was 52 years old,” he explained. “I had the impression that the young generation of pianists were more interested in reaching technical perfection than in involving themselves in the emotional and spiritual meaning of what each composer wanted to express in their works.

“Somehow I started feeling responsible towards the future of music-making,” he continued. “Instead of grumbling about this, I wanted to do something positive.”

He thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere at YSM, including the School’s “relatively intimate size.” As two esteemed piano faculty members were approaching retirement, Yale offered to extend Frankl’s appointment. He gladly accepted.  MORE

Published November 6, 2017
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Wei-Yi Yang and Sarita Kwok release a new duo album on Genuin

interchangePiano faculty member Wei-Yi Yang ’95 MM, ’96 AD, ’99 MMA, ’04 DMA and violinist Sarita Kwok ’05 MMA, ’06 AD, ’09 DMA have released their first album together on the German record label Genuin.

The recording, titled Interchange: Violin and Piano Duos of the 20th Century, features works by Janacek, Prokofiev, Ravel, and Stravinsky. The album was released on Jan. 29, 2016, and is described as:

“a balancing act that both young musicians pull off splendidly, connecting long musical lines and palpably enjoying relentless rhythmic repetitions. They provide for moments of stillness as well as veritable fireworks. So it comes as no surprise that both musicians have drawn international acclaim – competition juries and the press have not stopped singing their praises! We experience first-hand the moment the lights go out and the musicians intone the first notes of Ravel’s seductive blues…”

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Published February 29, 2016
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Violist Ettore Causa, pianist Wei-Yi Yang perform Feb. 12 with violinist Julie Eskar

Ettore Causa, Wei-Yi Yang, and Julie Eskar

Ettore Causa, Wei-Yi Yang, and Julie Eskar

The Yale School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series presents a recital featuring violist Ettore Causa and pianist Wei-Yi Yang, along with guest violinist Julie Eskar, on Friday, February 12 at 7:30 pm. The concert will include music by Mendelssohn, Nielsen, Penderecki, Fauré, and Bruch.

The program opens with two sonatas: Felix Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Viola and Piano in C minor, MWV Q14, and Carl Nielsen’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2, Op. 35. The two string players will team up for Krzysztof Penderecki’s Ciaccone for Violin and Viola.

Causa will perform his own arrangement of Gabriel Fauré’s Elegie, Op. 24, originally written for cello and orchestra. All three musicians will come together to close the concert with four selections from Max Bruch’s Pieces for Violin, Viola, and Piano, Op. 83. MORE

Published February 9, 2016
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Wei-Yi Yang performs Chopin, Schubert, Prokofiev Nov. 11

Wei-Yi YangThe Horowitz Piano Series at the Yale School of Music presents pianist Wei-Yi Yang in recital on Wednesday, November 11 at 7:30 pm. Yang, a faculty member at the School of Music, will perform works for solo piano by Chopin, Prokofiev, and Schubert.

The program opens with Chopin‘s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 1 in B-flat minor. Since being published in 1832, Chopin’s Opus 9 nocturnes have been some of the most popular works written for piano, often heard on television and film as well as in the concert hall.

This will be followed by Prokofiev‘s Sonata No. 8 in B-flat major, Op. 84. This work was composed in the period following the 1941 German invasion of Russia, when Russia briefly loosened restrictions on compositional styles. This allowed Prokofiev to compose in a more personal way; but this sonata, along with several other works from this period, was banned from performance in Russia soon after the war. MORE

Published October 23, 2015
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Piano Master Class Series 2015-16

kaplinsky-yoheved

Yoheved Kaplinsky

The Piano Master Class Series at YSM is under way for the 2015–16 season. The series gives piano students at Yale valuable opportunities to perform in piano master classes given by our internationally renowned faculty and visiting artists.

The 2015–16 Series began with two members of the YSM Faculty: on September 24 with Wei-Yi Yang and October 1 with Boris Berman. Upcoming for the fall semester are master classes with faculty members Peter Frankl, Melvin Chen, and Hung-Kuan Chen, as well as visiting artists Yves Henry, Yoheved Kaplinsky, and Amy Lin.

Most master classes take place Thursdays in Morse Recital Hall at 10:30 am. Arrangements can be made for audience members who wish to attend these classes; there is no charge. Interested audience members should send an email in advance.

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Published October 14, 2015
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Peter Frankl celebrates his 80th birthday with collaborative performance Oct. 21

Peter Frankl, piano

Peter Frankl, piano

The Horowitz Piano Series at the Yale School of Music presents Peter Frankl and friends in recital on Sunday, October 21 at 7:30 pm. The concert features Mr. Frankl playing music for two pianos and piano four hands with his colleagues on the Yale piano faculty.

Frankl will perform Mozart’s Sonata in D major for two pianos, with YSM dean Robert Blocker; Schubert’s Rondo in A major, with Michael Friedmann; Brahms’ Sixteen Waltzes, with Boris Berman; Mozart’s Variations in G major, with Melvin Chen; Schubert’s Lebensstürme, with Wei-Yi Yang; and selections from Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, with Hung-Kuan Chen.

Peter Frankl has been on the faculty of the Yale School of Music since 1987. He has numerous recordings to his name, including the complete works for piano by Schumann and Debussy, concertos and four-hand works by Mozart, and the two Brahms piano concertos. In recognition of his artistic achievements, Mr. Frankl was awarded the Officer’s Cross by the Hungarian Republic, and on his seventieth birthday he was given one of the highest civilian awards in Hungary for his lifetime artistic achievement in the world of music. MORE

Published October 9, 2015
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Faculty trio plays Czech chamber music Feb. 22

Ole Akahoshi, cello

Ole Akahoshi, cello

The Faculty Artist Series at the Yale School of Music presents a recital of Czech Chamber Music on Sunday, February 22 at 4:00 pm.

Faculty members Kyung Yu, violin; Ole Akahoshi, cello; and Wei-Yi Yang, piano, will play music by four Czech composers: Dvořák, Janáček, Smetana, and Suk.

The concert opens with Josef Suk’s trio Elegie, Op. 23. Next are two duos: Antonín Dvořák’s Four Romantic Pieces for violin and piano, Op. 75, and Leos Janáček’s Pohádka (A Fairy Tale) for cello and piano. MORE

Published February 17, 2015
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