At the Tokyo String Quartet's performance last night, Dean Robert Blocker awarded the Sanford Medal to current and past members of the quartet. The medal, which is the highest honor that the Yale School of Music bestows, is awarded for distinguished service to music.
Blocker presented the medal to the four current members of the quartet – Martin Beaver, violin; Kikuei Ikeda, violin; Kazuhide Isomura, viola; and Clive Greensmith, cello – as well as to Peter Oundjian, who was the first violinist of the quartet for fourteen years and remains a member of the School of Music faculty.
Earlier this season, the Tokyo Quartet announced that it would retire from the international concert stage in the summer of 2013. The ensemble, which has been active for over 40 years, has been in residence at the School of Music since 1976. Yesterday's concert was the quartet's last in Morse Recital Hall.
The Sanford Medal is named for Samuel Simons Sanford (1849–1910), a pianist and educator who was a member of the Yale music faculty from 1894 to 1910. Sanford was instrumental in the establishment of the School of Music within Yale University. He was also a proponent of the music of Edward Elgar, and his efforts contributed to Elgar’s receiving an honorary doctorate from Yale in 1905. Previous recipients of the Sanford Medal include Georg Solti, Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sherrill Milnes, Marilyn Horne, Emanuel Ax, and Richard Stoltzman.