Hilary Purrington’s “Harp of Nerves” to receive world-premiere performance

Hilary Purrington. Photo by JIJI

In 2017, a few months after graduating from the School of Music, composer Hilary Purrington ’17MMA received the American Composers Orchestra’s Underwood Emerging Composer Commission. After her Likely Pictures in a Haphazard Sky was read during the orchestra’s 2017 Underwood New Music Readings, the organization’s artistic director, Derek Bermel, said, “Hilary Purrington’s music spoke in a highly personal voice … Her work unfolded assuredly, revealing an orchestral palette at once austere and lyrical.”

On November 13, the ACO will give the world-premiere performance of Purrington’s guitar concerto, Harp of Nerves. The yield of the Underwood Commission, Purrington’s concerto was written for JIJI (Jiyeon Kim) ’17MM, winner of Victor and Sono Elmaleh First Prize at the Concert Artists Guild’s 2016 Victor Elmaleh Competition. Purrington and JIJI were roommates during their time at Yale. Their careers are in sync in an upward trajectory.

“I had JIJI in mind, of course,” Purrington said, and proposed a guitar concerto upon receiving the commission. During the composition process, Purrington said, “imagining (JIJI) playing the piece (was) helpful. She loves new music and she plays a lot of new music.” Also helpful was “knowing (JIJI’s) character and what she’s going to put into the piece.” That includes the “drama of seeing her playing.”

Throughout her relationship with the ACO, Purrington attended “as many ACO concerts as I could … to really get their sound in my head. I also wanted to have a sense of (Zankel Hall) and them playing in the hall.” That includes the subway rumble audiences can feel if not hear. “I have these very slow crescendo and decrescendo bass-drum rolls that come from that, directly,” she said, laughing, “since it’s going to be there anyway.”

To write for guitar, Purrington wanted to know the instrument as well as she could, so she studied the instrument herself. “I played quite a bit,” she said. “It was massively helpful and completely changed my approach. When she gave JIJI the music this past summer, Purrington said Jiji had no questions, which she took as the “highest compliment.”

JIJI. Photo by Lauren Chun

“She really understands the instrument well,” JIJI said. “She really used very idiomatic writing for the guitar. You can tell” she studied the instrument. “I’ve known Hilary’s music since we lived together. I was like, ‘You know what to do. You do your magic.’” JIJI, who recently heard a performance of Likely Pictures in the Haphazard Sky, described Purrington as an “amazing orchestrator” and said, “She knows how to work with textures and colors. She’s just really smart. You can hear it in her music.”

JIJI’s guitar will by amplified for the performance. “It liberates me, so I’m not forcing it on the instrument,” trying to compete with the orchestra, she said.

As Purrington pointed out, JIJI is a champion of new music. “Art should reflect the life of the time we live in,” she said. We live in this century and we should be part of this century.” There’s also a matter of available repertoire. JIJI said classical guitarists have, to a degree, been playing the same music over and over again, whereas, for example, the percussion repertoire has “exploded.” “Classical guitar needs this,” she said. “We need to really reinvent ourselves and try to expand our repertoire.” Purrington is helping with that.

The American Composers Orchestra will present a program called New England Echoes on Wednesday, November 13, at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. The program includes the world premiere of Hilary Purrington’s guitar concerto, Harp of Nerves, with soloist Jiji, a selection of Charles Ives’ songs, arranged by Purrington, YSM faculty composer Hannah Lash ’12AD, and Jonathan Bailey Holland and featuring mezzo-soprano Jaime Barton, and the New York premiere of Matthew Aucoin’s Evidence.

CONCERT DETAILS

HILARY PURRINGTON

JIJI

Published November 11, 2019
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Merz Trio is a winner of the Concert Artists Guild competition

The Merz Trio. Photo by Nile Scott

The Merz Trio, which includes pianist and Yale School of Music alumnus Lee Dionne ’11BA ’13MM ’14MMA ’19DMA, violinist Brigid Coleridge, and cellist Julia Yang, was named a winner of the 2019 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. The other winners were cellist Jamal Aliyev, violist Jordan Bak, and recorder player Tabea Debus.

“Each of the winners receives management contracts with CAG, including performance opportunities with more than 40 leading orchestras, concert series, and festivals, as well as a New York showcase performance and professional career development and coaching,” according to the organization’s news release. Application materials for this year’s competition required “a general statement of your artistic intent. This should also include how you plan to use your art to make an impact outside the concert hall.”

The Merz Trio, which won first prize at the 2019 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, “is passionate about connecting with diverse audiences through innovative concerts, multidisciplinary projects, and interactive performances,” the group’s website indicates. The trio’s work has been supported in part by Entrepreneurial Musicianship grants from the New England Conservatory, where it is in residence. The Merz Trio was formed in 2017 and won the Lerman Gold Prize and Audience Choice Award at the 2018 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition in Easton, Maryland.

Lee Dionne. Photo courtesy of the artist

A founding member of the Merz Trio, Dionne has performed as a chamber musician and as a soloist in venues around the world and has recorded for MSR Classics and Naxos Records. He is a core member of Cantata Profana along with several fellow Yale alumni including violinist Jacob Ashworth ’13MM ’14MMA ’18DMA, cellist Hannah Collins ’06BS ’08MM ’09AD, clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich ’13MM, stage director Ethan Heard ’07BA ’13MFA, guitarist Arash Noori ’12MM ’13AD, percussionist Doug Perry ’14AD, soprano Annie Rosen ’08BA ’12MM, composer-pianist Daniel Schlosberg ’10BA ’13MM ’14MMA ’18DMA, and bass-baritone John Taylor Ward ’12MM ’13MMA ’17DMA.

In addition to degrees earned at the Yale School of Music, Dionne has a soloist diploma from the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover, and an undergraduate degree in literature from Yale College.

The final round of the 2019 CAG competition took place on October 6, 2019, at Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City. Numerous YSM alumni have been among the winners of the CAG competition over the past decade. These include percussionist Mitya (Dmitrii) Nilov ’18MM; pianist Dominic Cheli ’16MM; guitarist Jiji (Jiyeon Kim) ’17MM; double bassist Samuel Suggs ’14MM ’20DMA; violinists Katie Hyun ’09AD and David Southorn ’09MM ’10AD, and cellist Mihai Marica ’04CERT ’08AD of the Amphion Quartet; violinist Sami Merdinian ’06MM ’07AD of Sybarite5; and violinist Sarah McElravy ’12AD, violist Eric Wong ’12AD, and cellist Felix Umansky ’12AD of the Linden String Quartet. The Argus Quartet, which served from 2015 to 2017 as YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, was a CAG competition winner in 2017. The competition has been held since the early 1950s.

The Yale Daily News recently published a piece about the Merz Trio. Read it here.

MERZ TRIO

LEE DIONNE

Published October 17, 2019
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Nivanthi Karunaratne ’20MM, on otherness and opportunity

By Nivanthi Karunaratne ’20MM

The South Asian Symphony Orchestra horn section, from left: Mohan Chetry, B.P. Vijayan, K. Saman Kularatne, and Nivanthi Karunaratne

Graduate school represents a major transition to adulthood. With a bachelor’s degree under their belt, young adults swap undergraduate procrastination for graduate proactivity—which, of course, is why I waited for the last possible minute to confirm my place at the Yale School of Music. No matter; I still became a proud Bulldog.

My excitement in beginning my master of music degree program came with a tinge of unease; feeling intimidated by my new peers was inevitable, having previously studied neuroscience. Fortunately, the YSM environment is as warm and welcoming as any.

Yet, being one of a sparse handful of brown musicians—here, I include those of Latinx or South Asian heritage—left me feeling inescapably “other.” Previously, this had been a source of pride. After high school, I spent two summers with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute devoted to gathering the country’s most accomplished musicians between ages 16 and 19. If memory serves, I was the sole female of South Asian heritage—certainly among the brass, but likely the whole orchestra. Those summers, touring the world with preternaturally gifted young musicians, remain among my fondest. At that time, I laughed at the use of my image for publicity, fully cognizant of, yet reveling in, the reasons why. I traded jokes with peers yet failed to question why we numbered so few.

Unusually, the tokenism later proved advantageous.

Five years later, as I started at the YSM, Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao met with Carnegie Hall directors to share her visionary dream for cultural diplomacy: an orchestra comprised entirely of musicians from the eight South Asian nations—the South Asian Symphony Orchestra. Though numerous orchestras with skilled musicians exist throughout South Asia, many lack access to high-quality training and equipment. Ambassador Rao therefore needed leaders for certain wind sections. As one of the few South Asian alumni of the NYO-USA, the Carnegie Hall directors remembered me. They connected me with Ambassador Rao, who recruited me to perform as the SASO’s principal horn player in the ensemble’s inaugural concert. And so, on April 19, 2019, I landed in Mumbai, completing the first leg of a journey I had unknowingly begun in February 2014 upon my acceptance to the NYO-USA.

Optically, I fit in.

I do not insinuate that my Sri Lankan heritage is irrelevant; almost my entire family lives there. But there is no denying the challenge in making sense of my identity. In the United States, many assume I am foreign; in Sri Lanka, unconscious Americanisms instantly mark me as an outsider. Yet, in India, many believed I hailed from the southwestern state of Kerala, my first—and so far, only—time experiencing the assumption that I belong to a country.

While grappling with this, bombs disrupted Easter hymns in Sri Lanka, killing 259. The international response—a smattering of afterthoughts and prayers—starkly contrasted the outpouring following the Notre Dame fire, reigniting my sense of otherness. But, more important, the attacks demonstrated the urgency of the SASO’s mission to unify South Asia.

The SASO acknowledged the tragedy with a moment of silence. This profound instance of South Asian solidarity seemed at first a fleeting veneer of unity, as the very political challenges that the SASO sought to overcome continued manifesting within the orchestra. Conscious of tensions within and subject to intense scrutiny from our host country, the SASO left the presence of the single Pakistani-American musician quietly unpublicized, yet loudly celebrated the inclusion of musicians from Kashmir, the disputed territory between Pakistan and India. Musically, reluctance to match foreign section mates revealed stubborn patriotism. It seemed a pipe dream to surmount such extensive language and cultural barriers through musical collaboration.

Interestingly, the neutrality of my and others’ hyphenated identities may have helped dissolve such barriers. As an American, others in the ensemble could regard my Sri Lankan heritage with some distance during our tea breaks, allowing me to slip into, and subsequently merge, a number of cliques. With shared ancestry, Sri Lankans could adopt me as one of them; hearing my bold sound, Indian Navy men affectionately declared me a “one-man army” they could get behind; my horn itself, a novelty to Afghani school children, drew earnest curiosity and eventually camaraderie. Other musicians described similar experiences and the orchestra flourished, ultimately stunning the audience—which included Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. He and the media praised the performance so lavishly that donations poured in, allowing the SASO to plan a second concert for October, for which they have invited me to return.

The SASO’s success was so dazzling in part because orchestras are heavily associated with western cultures, wealth, and therefore whiteness. Historically, in the United States and Europe, they are predominantly white institutions. This reality could perpetuate a perception that racial diversity and high standards are incompatible.

The SASO’s accomplishment illustrates that this perception is founded on bias.

If we are to honestly tout music as the universal human language—and keep orchestras relevant in the future—we need to continue investing more resources to inspire, excite, and recruit musicians of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. But, while acknowledging music’s unique ambassadorial capacity—at home and abroad—we cannot forget that diverse, competent musicians exist in the present.

Nivanthi Karunaratne is in the second year of the master of music degree program at the Yale School of Music. This is her opinion.

Published September 20, 2019
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Alumni nominated for 2019 Emmy Awards

Marco Beltrami. Photo courtesy of the artist

In the National Geographic documentary film Free Solo, by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold attempts to climb El Capitan—a 3,000-foot, perfectly vertical granite wall in Yosemite National Park—without ropes or safety gear of any kind. The music for Free Solo, by YSM alumnus Marco Beltrami ’91MM and Brandon Roberts, is full of tension and solemnity and connects viewers to the determination Honnold has in surplus and the protective fear he seems inexplicably not to have. The film’s cinematography offers all the perspective a viewer needs to appreciate that there is absolutely no room for error in the challenge Honnold has undertaken, while the music is full of the consequences he faces. For their contributions to the film, Beltrami and Roberts have been nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award in the “Outstanding Music Composition for a Documentary Series or Special (Original Dramatic Score)” category.

Thomas Newman. Photo courtesy of the artist

Thomas Newman ’77BA ’78MM is also up for a 2019 Emmy Award. Newman’s score for the Hulu series Castle Rock, created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason and inspired by the fictional setting Stephen King created for many of his stories, was nominated in the “Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music” category. Newman’s foreboding music is a confirmation of what’s already known: that uncomfortable and frightening things await the viewer in Castle Rock.

Beltrami and Newman work in the world of film and television scoring, adding dimensions to stories that aim at the visceral. In addition to Free Solo, Beltrami has scored the Scream movies, A Quiet Place, and the 2019 TV series The Twilight Zone, to name just a handful. This Emmy nomination is his second. Newman has composed music for The Shawshank RedemptionRevolutionary RoadThe Help, and many other films. This Emmy nomination is his third. He won an Emmy in 2002 for his theme music for HBO’s Six Feet Under. For Beltrami and Newman, whose often-anonymous music has its audiences in movie theaters and living rooms around the world, awards like the Emmy are a public round of applause.

Winners of the 2019 Emmy Awards will be announced on Sunday, September 22.

Featured photo: Alex Honnold makes the first free solo ascent of El Capitan’s Freerider in Yosemite National Park, Calif. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin)

Published August 2, 2019
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Yale composers win New Music USA grants

 

More than two dozen student, alumni, and faculty composers from the Yale School of Music have received grants from New Music USA for a variety of commissions, projects, and performances. This year, New Music USA has helped fund 114 projects with grants totaling more than $500,000. Please join us in congratulating the following members of our composition community.

Students

Gabrielle Herbst ’20MM is a part of a project titled “The Female Gaze” through which works featuring the female voice are commissioned and performed. A twist on the trope of the “male gaze,” the project’s composers, performers, and intended audience members are all women. Herbst’s First Lady of the Air was inspired by the life of Amelia Earhart.

Joel Thompson ’20MMA received a commission from the Grant Park Music Festival’s FestivalNext initiative, part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Parks program, which brings classical performances into Chicago neighborhoods. Thompson’s string quartet will be performed by fellows from the festival’s Project Inclusionprofessional development program, which serves young musicians of historically underrepresented identities.

Liliya Ugay ’16MM ’22DMA was a Fellow at the CULTIVATE 2018 Emerging Composers’ Institute, which was created by the Music from Copland House ensemble. The program commissioned Ugay and other fellows to write pieces that were later workshopped, performed, and recorded.

Alumni

The Los Angeles-based Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra will commission 20 composers, with commissioned works to be performed in the 2020 season as part of the organization’s 20×2020 series. Of those composers, eight are YSM alumni or faculty: Andy Akiho ’11MM, Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’22DMA, Christopher Cerrone ’09MM ’10MMA ’14DMA, Natalie Dietterich ’16MM ’17MMA, Ted Hearne ’08MM ’09MMA ’14DMA, Hannah Lash ’12AD, Peter Shin ’20MMA, and Sarah Kirkland Snider ’05MM ’06AD.

Works by Reena Esmail ’11MM and Caroline Shaw ’07MM will be performed by the multi-genre string quartet Brooklyn Rider as part of the ensemble’s “Healing Modes” program in April 2020 at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland. “Healing Modes” was inspired by the idea that music is a force for healing.

The composing-performing group Invisible Anatomy, including Ian Gottlieb ’15MM, Paul Kerekes ’12MM ’14MMA ’19DMA, Brendon Randall-Myers ’14MM, Ben Wallace ’14MM ’21DMA, and Fay Wang ’10MM ’12AD, presented Illumination as part of the 2019 Tribeca New Music Festival. The performance combined music and performance art and was based on the role of light in human life.

Molly Joyce ’17MM was one of the composers commissioned in 2016 by Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble as part of its celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks System. A CD of the commissioned works will be released on Innova Recordings. Joyce also received a grant for her project “Breaking and Entering,” which examines physical immobility in dance and music.

Works by Molly Joyce ’17MM, Loren Loiacono ’10BA ’12MM, and Tanner Porter ’19MM were performed as part of “Sing Out, Justice!” a program presented by the Albany Symphony’s 2019 American Music Festival. The festival commemorated the anniversaries of the passage of the 19th Amendment and the Stonewall riots.

Caroline Mallonee ’00MM will have her String Tunes recorded by the Buffalo Chamber Players, for whom she is the composer-in-residence. String Tunes  consists of 12 solos, two trios, one duo, and one quartet.

Marc Mellits ’91MM will be commissioned to write for the Chicago Opera Theater as part of Ear Taxi 2020, the second Chicago Festival of New Music put on by New Music Chicago. The festival’s mission is to support Chicago-based composers, artists, and performers by connecting them with cultural institutions.

Matthew Welch ’13MMA ’17DMA collaborated with five other composers to create the opera Chunky in Heat, which premiered this summer as part of Experiments in Opera’s 2018-2019 residency at the Flea Theater in New York City. Welch is a co-founder of Experiments in Opera.

Faculty

Faculty composer Martin Bresnick will be commissioned by the PRISM Quartet for its performance and recording project “Mending Wall,” which explores the role of walls in today’s society. Bresnick’s piece is based on the 1914 Robert Frost poem of the same name.

Faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis ’94MMA ’97DMA will write a piece for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra for its celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, in 2020. The work, for strings and harpsichord, will examine themes of conservation and environmentalism.

Published July 11, 2019
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Violinist Sophia Mockler ’17MM ’18MMA joins the Minnesota Orchestra

Violinist Sophia Mockler ’17MM ’18MMA recently won a position in the second violin section of the Minnesota Orchestra. It was her first professional orchestra audition.

Asked about her preparation for the audition, Mockler, who studied with Ani Kavafian at YSM, talked about the value of position-specific instruction. “Since this was my first orchestral audition, I wanted to get as much help from my mentors as I could before the audition,” she said. “I had the opportunity to work on the excerpts with a string player from the New York Philharmonic, which was invaluable. His suggestions were extremely helpful and specific to the variety of things a jury would be listening for.”

As “extensive” as the audition process was—it was described that way on the Minnesota Orchestra’s website—Mockler found more opportunity in each round to concentrate on musicality. “In the audition I tried to play as musically and imaginatively as possible so that the jury could hear my personality through the screen,” she said. “With each audition round that was added, I continued to focus on being musical, confident, and free.”

While Mockler is excited to begin playing with the orchestra in September, she is most looking forward to getting to better know the ensemble’s musicians, calling them an “outstanding group of people.”

“The sheer level of enthusiasm and encouragement that I felt from everyone in the orchestra during my trial was amazing,” she said, “and I am grateful to play alongside them.”

Published June 25, 2019
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YSM Alumni News | May 2019

Miki Aoki

Composers Samuel Adams ’10MM and Suzanne Farrin ’00MM ’03MMA ’08DMA have been named 2019 Guggenheim Fellows.

Kathleen Allan ’14MM has been appointed Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, a 45-year-old symphonic chorus that works regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Pianist Miki Aoki ’02MM released her fourth album, Tokyo Story, in the fall. It contains the world’s first recordings of the original piano scores of the last seven films by Yasujiro Ozu.

Composer Sheila Barnes ’74MM ’75MMA has taught voice at Cambridge University, Trinity College since 2010. In 2018 she adjudicated the Governor’s Prize of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and led a forum for composers at the Conservatory of Amsterdam on writing for voice. Barnes is currently writing an opera for the Netherlands Opera and the London-based early music group La Nuova Musica.

Double bassist Andrea Beyer ’15MM, bassoonist Francisco Joubert Bernard ’17MM, violinist Ethan Hoppe ’16MM ’18MMA, double bassist Levi Jones ’16MM, clarinetist Jesse McCandless ’17MM, cellist Alan Ohkubo ’14MM, violist Yuan Qi ’15MM, and violinist Yefim Romanov ’16AD are current fellows in the New World Symphony.

Violinist Claudia Bloom ’80MM is the Director of the Palo Alto School of Chamber Music, an intergenerational chamber music program. Now in its fifth year, the program offers professional coaching for string players, woodwind players, and pianists, and participants comprise a small orchestra.

The Great Necks Guitar Trio, whose members include Scott Borg ’06AD and Matthew Rohde ’07MM, released its debut album, Original Arrangements for Three Guitars, which reached the No. 10 spot on the Traditional Classical Billboard Charts for the week of December 1.

Trumpeter Joel Brennan ’06MM ’07MMA ’11DMA and violist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti ’08MM are inaugural faculty members at The Tianjin Juilliard School.

Violinist Davis Brooks ’78MM released his fourth solo album, Violin & Electronics 2, in December, featuring music by Richard Einhorn, Filipe Leitão, Frank Felice, Patrick Long, James Aikman, and Otto Luening.

Pianist Lydia Brown ’95MM ’96AD has been named Chair of the Collaborative Piano Department at the Juilliard School for fall 2019. Brown is in her 15th year as Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and her 13th year as the head of the vocal program at the Marlboro Music School and Festival.

The St. Martin’s Chamber Choir of Denver performed Two French Noels by Susan Brown ’76MM as part of a series that featured music by women composers, exclusively.

Conductor Hannah Carr ’17MM, Artistic Director of the Hoboken, New Jersey-based Cantigas Women’s Choir, led the group in a May 19 concert called “Music from the Mountaintops.”

Composer Carlos Carrillo ’96MM and flutist Christine Gangelhoff ’95AD recently co-organized Puentes Caribeños (Caribbean Bridges), a Symposium of Caribbean Art Music. The symposium focused on strengthening bonds between composers, performers, artists, and scholars throughout the Caribbean and its diaspora.

Countertenor Jay Carter ’08MM and soprano Sherezade Panthaki ’11AD sang the Houston premiere of Alessandro Stradella’s oratorio San Giovanni Battista with Ars Lyrica Houston in March.

Christopher Cerrone

The Peabody Institute will welcome Christopher Cerrone ’09MM ’10MMA ’14DMA and Harold Meltzer ’97MMA ’00DMA to its composition faculty for the 2019-2020 academic year. Cerrone was awarded a 2019 Charles Ives Fellowship by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Eric Cha-Beach ’07MM, a member of So Percussion, has contributed to tracks on the new album I Am Easy to Find by The National and appears on upcoming albums with Caroline Shaw, Buke and Gase, Tristan Perich, and others. So Percussion recently premiered Construction, a new project with choreographer Susan Marshall.

Trumpeter Kelly Dehnert ’86MM will return to Central Wyoming College as Director of Bands in fall 2019. Dehnert was Professor of Music at CWC for 14 years before spending eight years in Malawi, Africa, as Chair of Music at the African Bible College.

Percussionist Peter Derheimer ’88MM completed a tour of Germany with the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla in March with the celebrated guitar soloist Pepe Romero.

Conductor Dominick DiOrio ’08MM ’09MMA ’12DMA and NOTUS, the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, have been selected to perform at the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music in Auckland, New Zealand, in July 2020.

The April 2018 issue of The Strad included a feature on Spectrum Concerts Berlin, which opened its 31st season in March. The chamber ensemble is directed by founder and cellist Frank Dodge ’81MM.

Pianist Richard Dowling ’87MM has been appointed Visiting Artist Faculty at the new Aureus Conservatory of Music in Singapore. He will teach individual lessons, give master classes and workshops, and perform solo recitals during each of his six, two-week residencies in 2019 and 2020.

Violinist Gerald Elias ’75MM won first prize in the Creative Nonfiction Essay division of the 2018 Utah Original Writing Competition for his essay “War & Peace. And Music.”

The S&R Foundation announced its 2019 Washington Award winners: Reena Esmail ’11MM ’14MMA ’18DMA, who won the Grand Prize, and trombonist Brittany Lasch ’12MM. Esmail was one of six musicians to be named a 2019 Fellow by United States Artists, an organization that aims to illuminate the value of artists to American society.

The Pasadena Symphony’s 2019-2020 season will include a Composers Showcase featuring the music of up-and-coming composers, including Teen Murti by Reena Esmail and Red, Red Rose by Caroline Shaw’07MM.

Composer Kirsten Vogelsang Eyerman ’84MM recorded and released two albums in the past year, Glowing Prayer and Cello Holiday: Carols and Incantations.

Viola da gambist Grace Feldman’63MM was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame and was named one of TIAA’s 100 Difference Makers, an honor for which Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, where Feldman taught for 55 years, received $10,000.

Violinist Kirstin Fife ’86MM has had many of her compositions performed this year, including Four Paintings by Salvador Dalí by the Lobo Ensemble and Tango Johana for violin and piano. Her choral piece A Rose was recently performed in South Carolina.

The song “love is a place” by composer Douglas Fisk ’05MM ’06MMA (with text by E.E. Cummings) was included in NewMusicShelf’s Anthology of New Music: Mezzo-Soprano, Vol. I. Fisk was also awarded a 2019 New Work Grant by the Queens Council on the Arts.

Harmonizations and Descants, Parts I & II, by organist Stuart Forster ’98MM ’99AD, were published by Selah Publishing. The books have received praise from the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians.

Guitarist Lars Frandsen ’93MM was appointed Director of Music Theory and Ear Training at Nyack College, where he is a full professor at the Manhattan Campus. Dr. Frandsen is also an associate professor and director of classical guitar studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where he has taught for 21 years.

Composer Jeff Fuller ’69MM, with the trio Jeff Fuller & Friends, released his third album, Happenstance. Fuller formed the trio in 2014 to perform original music in the jazz tradition, and the group has since played at concerts, festivals, and clubs throughout Connecticut.

In January, harpsichordist Stephen Gamboa-Diaz ’16AD performed the complete Brandenburg Concerti, as the soloist and continuo player, with Chamber Music Silicon Valley.

Eliud Garcia

Trombonist Eliud Garcia ’17MM was selected for the 2019 Puerto Rico Summer Music Festival, with which he will perform Prokofiev’s First Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and other works on a tour of Puerto Rico.

Zachary Haas ’18MM received an Honorable Mention at the International Trombone Association’s Edward Kleinhammer Orchestral Bass Trombone Competition.

Composer Juliana Hall ’87MM has had 35 song-cycles and vocal chamber works published by E. C. Schirmer, a cycle published by Boosey & Hawkes, and several songs recently chosen for NewMusicShelf’s new art-song anthologies.

As members of the Pacifica Quartet, violinist Austin Hartman ’06AD and cellist Brandon Vamos ’94MM ’95AD gave a concert on the 25th anniversary season of the Neskowin Chamber Music series in Oregon.

Pianist Nansong Huang ’18MM was named a 2019 Luminarts Fellow in Classical Music by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation of Chicago. The fellowship includes a $7,500 award.

Composer Thomas Johnson ’67MM recently presented a new sound installation, Knock on Wood, in Lausanne, Switzerland, in collaboration with Martin Riches. A book of Johnson’s writings in German and English was released by MusikTexte in April.

Percussionists Ji Hye Jung ’09MM, Matthew Keown ’16MM ’22DMA, Svet Stoyanov ’07MM, and Sam Um ’17MM ’18MMA performed the premiere of YSM faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis’ Drum Circles with the Oregon Symphony.

Composer John Kaefer ’01MM scored the upcoming films A Score to Settle, starring Nicolas Cage and Benjamin Bratt, and The Divine Plan, as well as the video game series Quantum Break. Kaefer’s recent concert work States of Motion was premiered by The Hollywood Chamber Orchestra with pianist Molly Morkoski.

Oboist Kristin Kall ’13MM ’14AD was named Director of Operations at the National Repertory Orchestra.

Composer Daniel Kellogg ’01MM ’03MMA ’07DMA was named President of Young Concert Artists in New York City.

Members of the icarus Quartet—percussionist Matthew Keown ’16MM ’22DMA and Jeff Stern ’16AD and pianists Larry Weng ’12AD ’14MMA ’19DMA and Yevgeny Yontov ’14MM ’20DMA—recently won Chamber Music in Yellow Springs’s 34th Annual Competition for Emerging Professional Ensembles.

Soprano Angela Jihee Kim ’11AD sang the role of Mimi in La Bohème with the Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in New Jersey.

Guitarist Jiyeon “Jiji” Kim ’17MM was the featured soloist in a performance of Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez with the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra.

Violinist Kyung Jun Kim ’09CERT was awarded fifth prize at the Rising Stars Grand Prix 2018–International Music Competition Berlin.

Baritone Paweł Konik ’17MM started the 2018-2019 season singing Mercutio in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at the Opera Śląska in Poland. Konik also made debuts at the Staatsoper Stuttgart in October as Marullo in Verdi’s Rigoletto and with the Kölner Philharmonie as Harlekin in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.

Pianist Andrew Kraus MM presented a program of works by women composers at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., in March.

Guitarist Alan Kulka ’12MM released a single, “Special,” available on streaming services.

Jean Margaret Laurenz ’13MM ’14AD joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Professor of Trumpet.

Trombonist Achilles Liarmakopoulos ’10MM has released a new single, “I will never forget,” with guitarist Spiros Exaras.

Trombonist Richard Liverano ’16MM is the new Manager of Institutional Giving at Liberation Programs, Inc.

Soprano Jamilyn Manning-White ’12AD was featured a soloist in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem by the Hartford Chorale and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in April.

After graduating from Yale, bassoonist Tonia Marcune ’73MM performed with several symphonies on the California coast and taught in the Music Department of the University of Nevada, where she completed a master’s degree in educational psychology. Today, Marcune lives in Boca Raton, Fla., where she works in forensics and performs with a touring orchestra during the summer months.

Organist Vaughn Mauren ’09MM was named Artistic Director of a newly established concert series at St. James Episcopal Church in West Hartford, Conn., and will play a recital to rededicate the church’s recently rebuilt pipe organ in late May.

Guitarist Michael McCallie ’08MM joined the faculty of the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., as full-time director of the school’s classical guitar program.

The Vic Firth Company released a video for “Five Times,” written for percussionist Kramer Milan ’15MM ’16MMA by Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’22DMA.

Violinist Ai Nihira ’08MM will join the first violin section of the San Diego Symphony for the 2019-2020 season.

Composer Andrew Norman ’09AD was named a 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Music for his orchestral work Sustain, which was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and premiered on October 4, 2018, under the baton of Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel.

Marissa Olegario ’13MM accepted the tenure track position of Assistant Professor of Music in bassoon beginning in fall 2019 at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music.

Composer Timothy Olsen ’88MM ’89MMA ’95DMA was named Professor of Music at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y, where he has taught courses in world music cultures, jazz improvisation, and music theory since 1994. Olsen has also been named Music Director at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady.

Organist David Perry Ouzts ’87MM co-chaired the liturgy/music committee and conducted music for the consecration of the Fourth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee in May. The festival service featured a diocesan choir of 125 singers with organ, brass, and timpani.

Oboist Andrew Parker ’10MM has been named Assistant Professor of Oboe and Director of Summer Music Camps at the Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music starting in fall 2019. He is currently Lecturer of Oboe and Music Technology at Brevard College.

Loft Recordings recently released Salome’s Dance, recorded by organist Robert Parkins ’73MM ’75MM ’80DMA on the renovated Aeolian organ in the Duke University Chapel. Parkins’ eighth solo recording features late German Romantic music and works by American composers.

Kim Perlak ’01MM was named Chair of the Guitar Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. Perlak becomes the first woman to chair the department and the fourth person to hold the position since the college added guitar as a principal instrument in 1962.

Flutist Ginevra Petrucci ’12MM ’13AD is launching a multi-step commissioning project to expand the repertoire for the flauto d’amore. A concert program that will include music by Yale composers Gleb Kanasevich ’13MM and Liliya Ugay ’16MM ’22DMA is being planned.

Violinist Igor Pikayzen has been appointed Assistant Professor of Violin at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.

Composer Hilary Purrington ’17MMA joined Barnard College’s Office of Development as Associate Director of Advancement.

Bassoonist Dantes Rameau ’07MM has been selected as one of seven fellows for the DeVos Institute of Arts Management’s 2021 cohort.

Flutist Catherine Ramirez ’02MM released several chamber music videos through a Professional Development Grant from St. Olaf College. Ramirez also won several opportunities through the Sphinx Organization for Latinx and Black orchestral musicians and will participate in the National Alliance for Audition Support’s (NAAS) Audition Intensives at the New World Symphony in Miami and at the Sphinx Orchestral Partners Auditions (SOPA) in Detroit.

Violinist Kate Ransom ’81MM will launch the Serafin Ensemble, which evolved from the Serafin String Quartet, in June. Ransom will also serve as Artistic Director for the Serafin Summer Music festival, which will be presented by the Serafin Ensemble in collaboration with the University of Delaware and The Music School of Delaware.

Rhona Rider

Cellist Rhonda Rider ’80MM is Head of Strings at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. An Artist-in-Residence at Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks, she presented her solo cello commissions at UC Davis and Brandeis University. This summer she will hold a contemporary cello music seminar on a farm in upstate New York.

Soprano Natalia Rubiś ’17MMA sang the title role in Halka by Stanisław Moniuszko at the Wroclaw Opera House in Poland under the baton of Adam Banaszak.

Sharon Ruchman ’73MM wrote a memoir, The Gift of Rudy, and a piece for viola and piano, Another Time, to honor her great uncle Rudy Fuchs, a violinist who died at age 25.

Composer Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez ’91MM was a featured guest at Hong Kong Baptist University’s “The Keyboard in the 21st Century,” an international conference for composers, at the Mexico Remixed Festival at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition.

Tenor Rolando Sanz ’02MM ’03AD has taken on various large-scale projects as Executive Producer, including the world premiere of a new concept opera, I am Anne Hutchinson/I am Harvey Milk by Andrew Lippa, featuring the composer and Kristin Chenoweth.

Marco Sartor ’13MMA ’18DMA was appointed Assistant Teaching Professor of Guitar at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. He will start the position in the fall after three years on the faculty of the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Fla.

Organist Andrew Scanlon ’03MM was a clinician for the Royal School of Church Music Nigerian Training Course, held in Lagos, Nigeria, where he taught organ, choir training, theory, and conducting to organists and choirmasters from various parts of Africa and conducted the RSCM Nigeria National Choir at the closing performance of the conference.

Cellist Inbal Segev ’93CERT will premiere Anna Clyne’s cello concerto Dance in June with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Marin Alsop. Segev will record the concerto with Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in September.

Pianist Yury Shadrin’s ’08MM 2017-2018 season included appearances with the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gilmore Festival Orchestra in Kalamazoo, a solo recital at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, and master classes in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Nanning, China.

Bridge Records released Butterflies Remember a Mountain: Arlene Sierra, Vol. 3 in November, featuring the works of composer Arlene Sierra ’94MM. Gramophone praised the album as “a wonderful chamber music issue that enthralls from first bar to last.”

Inbal Segev

The Youth Symphonic Orchestra of Russia gave the world premiere of Across Differences by composer Alvie Singleton ’71MMA at the Zimnij Theatre in February as part of the Winter International Arts Festival.

Composer Caroline Shaw ’07MM and members of the Jasper String Quartet—violinist J Freivogel ’10AD, violist Sam Quintal ’10AD, and cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel ’10AD—were featured in a concert at the American Music Festival in Morehead City, N.C.

James Austin Smith ’08MM was appointed Co-Principal Oboe of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and became Artistic and Executive Director of Tertulia Chamber Music, a series that presents concerts in restaurants in New York and San Francisco.

Conductor Anna Song ’00MM was awarded the 2018 Tom Hellie and Julie Olds Creative Achievement Award for her work as Artistic Director of In Mulieribus, an early music women’s vocal ensemble based in Portland, Ore. In Mulieribus released a new album in March titled Cycles of Eternity featuring contemporary works for women’s voices.

The Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir premiered Out of the Whirlwind, a cantata for choir, soloists, and narrator by Max Stern MM at the Diaspora Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019.

Double bassist Alexander Svensen ’10MM was appointed Principal Bassist of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra. Svensen also retains his position as Assistant Principal Double Bassist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

Composer Augusta Read Thomas MM will have several works premiered this season, including a work for string quartet and percussion quartet commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the opening of its Tanglewood Center for Music and Learning, and an opera, Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun, for the Santa Fe Opera.

Horn player Josh Thompson ’17MM ’18MMA will join the Washington, D.C.-based wind quintet District5.

In January, tubist Daniel Trahey ’03MM held a residency with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Juvenil, Chile’s national youth orchestra, where he worked with students, trained educators, and collaborated with professional orchestral musicians to collectively compose a new work based on civil rights issues in Latin America.

Composer Jay Wadley ’07MM ’08AD created the score for the upcoming Netflix series Tales of the City.

Composer Joseph Waters ’82MM presented pieces from his developing work El Colibrí Mágico (The Magic Hummingbird), an opera-musical about Honduran refugees attempting to cross the border, at The Cutting Room in New York City in November and at the NWEAMO Festival in San Diego in April.

Conductor Amanda Weber ’13MM accepted the position of Interim Director of Choral Ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. Weber also celebrated three years of directing the Voices of Hope Women’s Prison Choir, which she founded in October 2015 at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee.

Clarinetist Jason Weinberger ’97MM, Artistic Director of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony in Iowa, recently founded the concert production company The New Live, which aims to bring sophisticated multimedia productions to orchestras and other presenters worldwide.

Pianist Amy Yang ’10AD performed as a guest artist with the Newport Symphony Orchestra in Newport News, Va. on a concert featuring Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Pianist Clara Yang ’06MM ’07AD was featured as a guest artist with the Winston-Salem Symphony, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503.

Pianist Hanna Yukho ’17MMA hosted “Celebrate the Gift of Hearing with an Evening of Music” in Winchester, Mass., an event that raised money for Massachusetts Eye and Ear to aid research of causes and treatments for children with hearing loss.

Published May 17, 2019
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Pianist Hilda Huang ’19MM ’20MMA receives Soros Fellowship

Hilda Huang. Photo by Maxwell Tiedemann

Pianist and current School of Music student Hilda Huang ’19MM ’20MMA has received the prestigious Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The Soros Fellowship is a merit-based scholarship for immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate work in the United States. Thirty winners are selected from a pool of more than 1,800 applicants every year, and each winner is awarded up to $90,000 to help support their education. The Soros Fellowship program was founded in 1997 and over the years “has built a community of 655 immigrants and children of immigrants … with heritage in 89 countries,” according to the organization’s website.

Huang was born in Fremont, California, to Chinese and Taiwanese parents and began playing piano at age 3. She received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Yale College before attending the Yale School of Music, where she is pursuing a master of music degree in piano performance, studying with faculty pianist and Deputy Dean, Melvin Chen. While she was an undergraduate at Yale College, Huang said, she recognized “the great potential of music to shape lives,” which convinced her of its “profound utility and worth” and led her to her current focus. She will remain at YSM next year to pursue a master of musical arts degree. Huang earned international acclaim upon winning the 2014 Leipzig International Bach Competition while she was still an undergraduate at Yale College. She was the first American to earn the prize and the youngest winner in the competition’s history.

“Winning the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship and being a student at the Yale School of Music are for me one and the same with what it means for me to be able to pursue a career in music,” Huang said. “The financial and institutional—not to mention artistic and academic—support provided by these two institutions is the means by which I am able to do what I love every day; they are gifts I do not take lightly. Playing the piano is one of the strongest forces in my life. It has contributed to shaping how I think, how I feel, and what I value. I have experienced unmatched happiness and productivity during my two years at YSM, and I am utterly grateful to have another year at YSM for my MMA. I intend to make the most of it.”

READ MORE ABOUT THE 2019 PAUL AND DAISY SOROS FELLOWS

Published May 6, 2019
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Pianist Henry Kramer ’13AD ’19DMA receives Avery Fisher Career Grant

Henry Kramer

Pianist and Yale School of Music alumnus Henry Kramer ’13AD ’19DMA, the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Joyce and Henry Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, has been awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. The $25,000 award is designed “to give outstanding instrumentalists significant recognition on which to continue to build their careers,” according to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which administers the Avery Fisher Artist Program. Other 2019 grant recipients include the JACK Quartet, pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton, and violinist Angelo Xiang Yu.

Past Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients include pianist Hung-Kuan Chen, violinist Ani Kavafian, and clarinetist David Shifrin—all members of the Yale School of Music faculty. Several School of Music alumni have also received an Avery Fisher Career Grant, including cellist Carter Brey ’79, pianist Helen Huang ’09MM, bassoonist Peter Kolkay ’02MMA ’05DMA, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman ’67MM.

Kramer, who studies at YSM with Boris Berman, won second prize at the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Competition and has earned prizes at the Honens International Piano Competition, Montreal International Music Competition, Shanghai International Piano Competition, and National Chopin Piano Competition. He was the recipient of the Harvard Musical Association’s 2018 Arthur W. Foote Award.

Kramer has appeared with the National Orchestra of Belgium, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, among others, and has worked with such conductors as Marin Alsop, Stéphane Denève, and Hans Graf. Prior to attending the Yale School of Music, Kramer earned bachelor and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School.

The 2019 Avery Fisher Career Grants will be presented on Friday, March 15, at 6 p.m., at WQXR’s Greene Space. The event, featuring performances by grant recipients, will be streamed live on the WQXR website.

Published March 15, 2019
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YSM Student News | March 2019

Sophiko Simsive. Photo by Marco Broggreve

Composers Ryan Lindveit ’19MM, Paul Mortilla ’20MM, Tanner Porter ’19MM, and Miles Walter ’20MM were awarded Charles Ives Scholarships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

As the winner of the Music Academy of the West’s 2018 Solo Piano Competition, Sophiko Simsive ’18MM ’19MMA will embark on a recital tour that includes appearances in London, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Pianist Gabriele Strata ’19MM was the winner of the 35th Concorso Pianistico Nazionale Premio Venezia (Venice Prize) and was awarded the Plaque of the President of the Italian Republic and the Medal of the Italian Senate.

Published March 12, 2019
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