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Prizes awarded at 2019 Honors Banquet

"Let tonight be a marker of what is to come as we celebrate your collective futures," YSM Dean Robert Blocker told students
May 9, 2019

Retiring Professor of Trumpet Allan Dean, left, and School of Music Dean Robert Blocker

On Sunday, May 5, the School of Music held its annual Honors Banquet during which Dean Robert Blocker presented awards to students, many of whom will graduate on May 20. Blocker also recognized three faculty members for their contributions to and beyond the YSM community. Faculty trumpeter Allan Dean, who is retiring after 30 years at the School, received the Gustave Stoeckel Award for Excellence in Teaching. Blocker said Prof. Dean was always ready to perform in service to the School “with love and affection” for the music he was making. “It’s been a great run,” Dean said.

Blocker presented Assistant Professor of Cello Ole Akahoshi with the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award, describing Akahoshi as a “distinguished alumnus” of the School and a “wonderful human being.” Akahoshi led the Yale Cellos this year in the absence of longtime Prof. Aldo Parisot, who retired in June after 60 years on the School’s faculty and passed away in December. Akahoshi dedicated the award to the Yale Cellos, saying, “We all miss Mr. Parisot. He would have been proud.”

William Boughton, Lecturer in Music at YSM and interim conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, received the School’s Cultural Leadership Citation in large part for his artistic leadership of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Boughton is serving in his final season as Music Director of the NHSO, a position to which he was appointed in 2007. During his tenure, the NHSO has twice earned an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. “He reignited the New Haven Symphony Orchestra,” Blocker said.

“Many of you will complete your studies at YSM in just a few short weeks,” Blocker told students. “Let tonight be a harbinger of what is to come as we celebrate your collective futures.” At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, students remained at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale for an after-party to dance and celebrate the end of the academic year.

View the full photo gallery.

The following student prizes were presented during the Honors Banquet.

Left to right: Professor in the Practice of Horn William Purvis, flutist Jungah Yoon, and Dean Robert Blocker

Brass and Woodwinds

The Thomas Daniel Nyfenger Memorial Prize, which is awarded to a graduating student who has demonstrated the highest standard of excellence in woodwind playing, was presented to flutist Jungah Yoon. The John Swallow Prize, which is given to an outstanding brass player whose artistry and dedication have contributed to the department, was awarded to tubist Jake Fewx.

Choral Conducting

The Robert Shaw Prize, given in honor of the renowned American choral conductor and awarded to a choral conducting major in the School of Music chosen by the choral conducting faculty for distinguished achievement, was presented to Margaret Burk.


The Woods Chandler Memorial Prize for the best composition in a larger form written during the year was awarded to Nate May. The Rena Greenwald Memorial Prize for the best piano composition written during the year went to Miles Walter. The John Day Jackson Prize for outstanding chamber music compositions written for strings with or without other instruments was presented to Aaron Levin. The Frances E. Osborne Kellogg Memorial Prize for the best composition written in a contrapuntal style was given to Grant Luhmann. And the Ezra Laderman Prize for the best compositions written for musical theater or voice was awarded to Tanner Porter.


The Eliot Fisk Prize, which is given to an outstanding guitarist whose artistic achievement and dedication have contributed greatly to the department, was awarded to Nicoletta Todesco.


The Charles Ives Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding organ major, went to Ryan Kennedy. The Julia R. Sherman Memorial Prize for excellence in organ playing was awarded to Jacob Reed.

Left to Right: Dean Robert Blocker, pianists Janice Yu and Gabriele Strata, and Associate Professor of Piano Wei-Yi Yang


The Charles S. Miller Prize, which is given to a gifted pianist who has done outstanding work during the first year of study, was awarded to Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner. The Elizabeth Parisot Prize, which goes to outstanding pianists in the School of Music, was awarded to Gabriele Strata and Janice Lu.


The Georgina Lucy Grosvenor Memorial Prize, which is awarded to the violist in the graduating class whose performances while at Yale have exhibited the highest potential for success as a soloist or chamber musician in the field, was given to Marlea Simpson. The Aldo Parisot Prize, which is awarded to gifted cellists who show promise for a concert career, was presented to Guilherme Nardelli Monegatto and Anita Balazs. The Broadus Erle Prize, which is given to outstanding violinists in the School of Music, went to Matthew Woodard, Ariel Horowitz, and Sirena Huang.


The David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding singer in the School of Music, went to Matthew Cossack. The Smriti Deb Memorial Prize, which is given to an outstanding graduating singer who best reflects and exemplifies the ideals and values of Smriti Deb and her commitment to teaching low-income and underrepresented children, was awarded to Rachel Weishoff. And the Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize, whose purpose is to assist in launching the career of a graduating voice student who demonstrates exceptional talent as an artist and promise for professional success, was awarded to Lauren McQuistin.

Doctor of Musical Arts

The Friedmann Thesis Prize, which is awarded to a DMA candidate whose thesis is notable for its distinguished research, original perspective, in-depth engagement with its subject, and well-crafted presentation, was given to composer Nate May.

Left to right: violinist Emily Switzer, violinist Ye Jin Min, violinist Kate Arndt, trumpeter Chloe Swindler, Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, horn player Antonia Chandler, Dean Robert Blocker, choral conductor Andrew Hon, Director of Admissions and Alumni Affairs Donna Yoo, tenor Luis Aguilar, guitarist Nicoletta Tedesco, pianist Szymon Nehring, and organist David Simon


The Malcolm L. Mitchell and Donald M. Roberts Class of 1957 Prize, which is given to an outstanding graduating teaching artist in the Music in Schools Initiative, was awarded to horn player Esteban Garcia. The Philip Francis Nelson Prize, which is awarded to a graduating student whose musicianship is outstanding and who demonstrates curiosity, talent, and an entrepreneurial spirit in the many dimensions of the music profession, was presented to vocalist Ned Vogel. The Presser Foundation Music Award, which is awarded to an outstanding returning student to advance the student’s music education, went to Daniel Tucker. And the Yale School of Music Alumni Association Prize, which is awarded to graduating students who have not only excelled in their respective fields but have also made important contributions to the general life of the School, was presented to Luis Aguilar, Andrew Chun Fung Hon, Nicoletta Tedesco, Matthew Woodard, Antonia Chandler, Chloe Swindler, Kate Arndt, Ye Jin Min, Emily Switzer, Szymon Nehring, and David Simon.

Photos by Harold Shapiro.