Pedro de Alcantara ’81MM publishes fifth book

Pedro de Alcantara ’81MM has published his fifth book, Integrated Practice: Coordination, Rhythm & Music.

The book was published by Oxford University Press as the foundation volume of the series The Integrated Musician, of which Alcantara is the editor. The series’ main concept is that a musician’s good health is a creative act.

The book is supported by a dedicated website with 72 video clips and 25 audio clips. The website was partially financed by a generous grant from YSM’s alumniVentures program.

Published June 29, 2011
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Playing David Lang’s the so-called laws of nature

This is the last in a series of three guest posts by Michael Compitello ’11MMA, a member of the Yale Percussion Group.
Part I
Part II

Playing the so-called laws of nature

Members of the Yale Percussion Group

During the spring semester and into the summer, we in the Yale Percussion Group have been working with David Lang, one of the founders of Bang on Can and a faculty member at the Yale School of Music, on a new interpretation of his seminal percussion quartet, the so-called laws of nature. Come and join us at 7:30 pm June 22nd at Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo, Brooklyn!

Playing the so-called laws of nature is an unforgettable but unforgiving experience. Since what we and feel when we play is so personal, I can only offer my own experiences. For an excellent discussion of performance issues in the second part, check out So Percussion’s video on the website of drumstick manufacturer Vic Firth.)

One of the most difficult aspects of performing the so-called laws is a large factor in what makes the piece so compelling: the physical, almost theatrical setup of the quartet on the stage. Rather than positioning ourselves in an arc or semi-circle, David asks that the quartet present each movement in a line. In the first and third parts, we stand facing the audience, while in the second part, the group stands in profile, accentuating the visual and musical canon. Although this arrangement presents us — as David asks — as “four soloists playing (almost) the same virtuosic solo at (almost) the same time,” the loss of sight lines and the added distance complicate our efforts to play together. This is especially true in the second part, when each player is progressively displaced by one eighth note. When I played this movement, I memorized the composite rhythm — the simultaneous rhythm of all four parts — as a way to help me keep my place, using the staggered entrances of the different pipes and certain melodic fragments as way-points in lieu of normal visual cues. MORE

Published June 15, 2011
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Getting ready to play

This is the second of three guest posts in a series by Michael Compitello ’11MMA, a member of the Yale Percussion Group

Part I

Getting Ready

Unlike most instrumentalists, percussionists are rarely able to get a new piece of music and immediately begin practicing. Outside of marimba solos, we must usually go through a kind of hunting and gathering, finding the required instruments and mallets and positioning them into a newly constructed altar devoted to this new piece. Only then may we begin to explore. At the same time, a composer’s specificity about which instruments and mallets to use could mean that the same piece could sounds light-years apart in the hands of different percussionists. While some composers are almost stiflingly specific about instruments (“a 12-inch tom-tom tuned to a B-flat that rings for approximately 3 seconds when struck with a 6mm knitting needle” and so on), others are very general, asking for “a tom tom” or “woodblock.” David’s music lies is somewhere in-between these two, asking us to take care with some of the parameters, but to use our intuition with others: in the second movement of the so-called laws, each player needs seven specific pitches of pipe, but in the third movement, any 9 “small and fragile sounding” teacups will work. MORE

Published June 14, 2011
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Conor Nelson ’05MM appointed to faculty at Bowling Green State University

Conor Nelson ’05MM has been appointed Assistant Professor of Flute in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University commencing Fall, 2011.

Canadian flutist Conor Nelson gave his New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and has since appeared frequently as soloist and recitalist throughout the United States and abroad.  Solo engagements include performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Flint Symphony; at the Banff Centre; and with numerous other orchestras. The only wind player to win the Grand Prize in the WAMSO Young Artist Competition, he also won first prize in the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition.  In addition, he has received top prizes at the New York Flute Club Young Artist Competition and the Haynes International Flute Competition.

As a chamber musician, he performs regularly with marimbist/percussionist Ayano Kataoka as part of the Conor and Ayano Duo.  Involved in several exciting commissioning projects for their genre, the duo has performed in Merkin Concert Hall, CAMI Hall, Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, Izumi Hall, and as guest artists for the Ottawa Flute Association in Canada.  A recent recital at the Tokyo Opera City Hall was broadcast nationally in Japan on NHK television, and the duo recently released a CD on New Focus Recordings.

With the Intrada Winds he was a prizewinner at the Fischoff, Coleman and Yellow Springs national chamber music competitions and performed at several prestigious concert venues throughout the United States. He is a regular guest at the Chamber Music Quad Cities series and has appeared at the OK Mozart, Yellow Barn, Look and Listen (NYC), Norfolk, Chesapeake, Aspen, Banff, and Okemo Mountain festivals. MORE

Published June 13, 2011
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Michael Compitello on playing David Lang

This is the first of three guest posts in a series by Michael Compitello ’11MMA, a member of the Yale Percussion Group

My name is Michael Compitello, and I’m a percussion student at the Yale School of Music, and a member of the Yale Percussion Group. On June 22nd, we’re playing a concert at Galapagos Art Space in Dumbo, Brooklyn, that features David Lang’s percussion quartet the so-called laws of nature. Because we’re so excited about this concert, I thought I could offer some thoughts as an introduction to us and the piece, and what this music is like to prepare, rehearse, and perform.

I’ve loved David Lang’s music from the first time I heard it.  As a high-schooler aggressively inhaling any music I could find, David’s “Cheating, Lying Stealing” made me hit the severely underutilized “repeat” button on my Discman.  To someone with little experience in contemporary music beyond The Rite of Spring, something about the sound of David’s language felt relevant to me, while with repeated listening the way in which his music created form struck me as aggressively interesting.  From that point on, I launched the most sophisticated musical investigation I could muster.  Discovering what David, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe had done with Bang on a Can was a step towards what has become my obsession with all kinds of contemporary music, and I consumed willingly and indiscriminately.  Since then, I’ve been lucky to have the chance to play a lot of great music and explore many different cultures of contemporary music in Europe and the US, but I’ll never forget the impact that just one piece had on me.

Because of the pivotal role his music played in my self-education, I have always jumped at the chance to play any piece of David’s.  The opportunity to work with him on the so-called laws of nature, which is not only an amazing piece, but an amazing piece written for percussion instruments, has been insightful and inspiring. MORE

Published June 13, 2011
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Yale Institute for Music Theatre Announces 2011 Selections, Creative Teams, and Casting

Public Readings: June 16, 17, 18

The Yale Institute for Music Theatre (Mark Brokaw, Artistic Director; Beth Morrison, Producer) announces the three original music theatre works selected for workshop in New Haven this June: Maren of Vardø, music by Jeff Myers, libretto by Royce Vavrek; The Pregnancy Pact, music by Julia Meinwald, book and lyrics by Gordon Leary; and The Profit of Creation, music by Tim Rosser, book and lyrics by Charlie Sohne.

The two-week workshops will culminate with readings of each open to the public held at the Off-Broadway Theatre (41 Broadway, New Haven) on June 16, 17, and 18, presented as part of the 2011 International Festival of Arts & Ideas.  A reception follows each reading.  Dates and times for each reading are included below.

Tickets for the readings and receptions are $15 each, and can be purchased online at, by phone at (203) 562-5666, and in person at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas Box Office (Shubert Theater, 247 Chapel Street). Arts & Ideas members and Yale Repertory Theatre subscribers may purchase tickets for $10 each by phone or in person only.


Published June 10, 2011
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Asking Good Questions: Dean Blocker’s Commencement Address

At the School of Music’s 118th Commencement, held May 23, 2011, Dean Robert Blocker addressed the graduates. The text of his address, titled Asking Good Questions, is reprinted here.


Robert Blocker
The Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music

In the library of questions, there are many different types. Some are social, such as a greeting like “How are you?” Others are personal, sometimes gossipy and intrusive, like “Can you believe she moved in with him?” Some have short-term implications – “When do we get out of this rehearsal?”, while others have lasting meaning – “Will you marry me?” Some require one-word replies, and some cannot be answered. This morning, I want to focus on questions that pertain to you and your life as a person, an artist, an educated citizen, and a cultural leader.

Isidor Rabi, the Nobel Laureate in Physics who died earlier this year, was once asked why he became a scientist rather than a doctor, lawyer, or businessman like the other immigrant kids in his neighborhood. His answer was profound and an inspiration to all educators: “My mother,” he said, “made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: ‘So? Did you learn anything today?’ But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. ‘Izzy,’ she would say, ‘Did you ask a good question today?’ That difference – asking good questions – made me become a good scientist!”

Educated people – scientists, artists, physicians, teachers, lawyers, ministers, business owners, to name a few – are intellectually curious. If you wish to achieve your personal goals, to develop your talent, and to live a rich, satisfying life, asking good questions is, I believe, the best possible outcome of your educational experience.

Much has been said and written about the Information Age and its digital implications, but we have no singular claim on this term. What of the people who first encountered the alphabet, or those who lived when Gutenberg invented movable print, or more recently our grandparents and great-grandparents who witnessed the advent of radio and television?

Some say the book is dead. Hardly! In 2011 over one million new titles were published. Some say anything and everything is available on-line. Not so! The average life span of a URL is 44 days. MORE

Published June 9, 2011
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Two incoming pianists take home prizes in TSO Piano Competition

The first and second prizes in the 2011 Toronto Symphony Orchestra National Piano Competition went to two incoming students at the Yale School of Music.

Richard-Hamelin in the studio of 96.3 FM

Charles Richard-Hamelin ’13MM won first prize, which includes the opportunity to perform a concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Roy Thomson Hall. He  will play Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the orchestra in the 2012–13 season.

Richard-Hamelin, 21, is from Montreal. On May 30, as another part of his prize, he took part in a live interview and performance on Classical 96.3 FM.

Second prize was awarded to  Scott MacIsaac ’14CERT, who also won the award for Best Performance of a Romantic Work. MacIsaac, 18, is from Calgary. As part of this prize, he will perform a recital in the Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s biennial National Piano Competition attracts Canada’s finest pianists between the ages of 16 and 25. The competition was created 29 years ago by the Toronto Symphony Volunteer Committee to encourage and foster the talent of young Canadian pianists. MORE

Published June 8, 2011
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Esther Park ’12AD wins second prize in Ima Hogg Competition

esther parkEsther Park ’12AD won the second prize in the Houston Symphony’s Ima Hogg Young Artists Competition, held June 2–4 at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

In addition to receiving the $2,500 Houston Symphony League Jerry Priest Award, Park will play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Houston Symphony. Her performance will take place at Miller Theatre on June 25.

Named to honor the memory of Miss Ima Hogg, a co-founder of the Houston Symphony, this prestigious Competition is open to young musicians between the ages of 16 and 29 who play standard orchestral instruments or piano. Through the support of the Houston Symphony League, the Competition provides performance opportunities for aspiring musicians.

The semifinal round, in which ten semifinalists each performed two concertos with piano accompaniment, took place on Thursday, June 2 in Stude Concert Hall at Rice University. At the semifinals, four finalists were selected to perform one concerto with the Houston Symphony at the Finals Concert on Saturday, June 4.

Pianist Esther Park has performed as a soloist with orchestras and in recitals across the United States as well as Asia and major European cities. She has appeared as soloist with many orchestras such as the Corpus Christi Symphony, Filharmonia Pomorska (Poland), Orchestra Filarmonica (Romania), Shanghai Philharmonic, the American Academy of Conducting Orchestra at Aspen, Shreveport Symphony, the Juilliard Symphony, and the New Jersey Symphony. MORE

Published June 6, 2011
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John Merrow to address distinguished educators at Symposium

Education journalist John Merrow will give the keynote speech at the Symposium on Music in Schools, which will take place June 9–12 at the School of Music. Merrow is the education correspondent for PBS NewsHour and the president of Learning Matters, an independent production company based in New York City. His most recent book, The Influence of Teachers, was published in February by LM Books. He blogs regularly at Taking Note.

Merrow’s talk, titled Is Harmony in Education Possible?, will be a part of the Symposium’s Awards Dinner on Friday, June 10. The dinner will feature the presentation of the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award to fifty music teachers from across the country.

The biennial Symposium brings together fifty music educators from public schools in the United States who are nominated by their superintendents and selected by a panel of music professionals. In addition to receiving the Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award, these teachers will travel to New Haven, all expenses paid, to attend the 2011 Symposium on Music in Schools. They will be joined at the Symposium by the music teachers in the New Haven Public Schools.

“I am thrilled to be invited,” Merrow said.”I don’t think there’s any place quite like the Yale School of Music” in terms of university involvement in the public schools in its community. The mission “to honor teachers – that’s just absolutely wonderful thing that you do.” The Symposium is one branch of the Music in Schools Initiative at the School of Music, funded by the Yale College Class of 1957 as its 50th reunion class project.

One of Merrow’s concerns with today’s educational landscape is the incoherence of approaches to deep-seated, system-wide problems. In a recent blog post, he wrote: MORE

Published June 3, 2011
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