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Students, Faculty + Alumni

Alumni spotlight: bass-baritone Dashon Burton

Dashon Burton

Meet Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone and YSM alum Dashon Burton '11MM, who's appeared with such ensembles as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony, at the Salzburg Festival, and with the choral group Roomful of Teeth. Burton, who serves as Assistant Professor of Voice at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music, spoke with us about his time at Yale and the influence that's had on his career, and about the interests he has outside of music and art. 

Q: Did YSM lead you in any important ways to the career path you're on today?

A: I learned so much about creativity and curiosity at Yale. Having the resources to research and pursue collaborations with other students made for an invaluable experience. I am still friends and colleagues with many of my schoolmates! 

Q: The work you do is varied. How should music schools prepare students for professional variety?

A: Music schools have a responsibility to prepare students for a modern career, which isn't just about perfecting your scales alone in a practice room. Today's musician needs to have a collaborative approach to every facet of our art, including keeping tabs on the business aspect of music and finances. Having said that, we always want to put forward our most joyous and soul-filled music, so the sound comes first. Wherever passion for your art goes, intellect should follow. 

Q: What have you brought to your teaching studio that can be traced back to your studies at Yale?

A: My primary teachers (Jimmy Taylor, Simon Carrington, and Masaaki Suzuki) all brought such a welcoming spirit to music-making, each in their own way. I would hope that I continue expecting the highest level of musicianship from my students, while also providing mentorship on and off stage. 

Q: What are you reading, watching, and/or listening to that you find particularly inspiring?

A: I read and watch way too much about physics ... it was going to be my area of study before I devoted myself to music! I love reading about astronomy, cosmology, and particle physics. It's musical in its own way, I assure you. When I'm not pretending to understand all of the math equations (I definitely do not!) I like to escape into celebrity memoirs and biographies of historical figures and be inspired by watching good comedy of all kinds. You know how people come up to musicians and say, “How do you stand up in front of all of those people on stage?” That’s how I feel about standup comics!

Q: What interests are you pursuing outside of the arts?

A: I wish I had more time to continue my studies in aviation – my dream is to get my private pilot certificate someday. I love getting outside as well – both on the ground and above ground.