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Students, Faculty + Alumni

Generation YSM: Meet composer Udi Perlman '26DMA


Meet composer Udi Perlman, who's pursuing a DMA degree at YSM. We spoke with Udi about what he plans to concentrate on during the residential portion of the DMA program and the "sense of comradery" he's already experienced early in the semester. 

Q: What attracted you to the Yale School of Music’s composition program?

A: For my doctorate, having previously studied in Israel and Germany, I really wanted to experience something new and different. I've admired for a long time many of the extraordinary composers who came from YSM's composition program throughout the years and was curious to find out what kind of environment enabled the cultivation of such a diverse array of compositional personalities. The more I learned, what struck me the most about YSM's composition program was the genuine sense of comradery. The program isn't centered around one teacher or aesthetic, rather, it feels much more like a community that welcomes different ways of making and thinking about music. I got the feeling that at YSM I could write the music that I'm passionate about without having to worry about catering to a specific taste or style, and engage in a meaningful discourse with outstanding peers and mentors.

Q: Which Yale University resources might you mine as a composer and scholar while you’re here? 

A: I'm constantly discovering more and more about the terrific resources the university has to offer and have already made great use of the library, the special collections, and the career-strategies resources. At the end of the day, though, I think the most valuable resource is the people around me. I hope to learn as much as I can from my professors and colleagues. Since the beginning of the semester, and even beforehand, I've already been in touch with a number of performers who were incredibly helpful and eager to collaborate.

Q: Are there specific areas of your own work that you plan to focus on during the residential portion of the DMA-degree program? 

A: I'm really excited about the academic courses, which are a central part of the residential portion, and the opportunity to touch upon areas in music theory and musicology that I haven't gotten the chance to explore yet, and to generally get familiarized with new modes of thought. As a composer, while I hope to continually experiment and expand the way I work, I see the residential period of the DMA as an opportunity to distill and refine my compositional voice. Aesthetic issues, such as directionality, organicism, and process-based forms and their relation to harmony and gesture are ongoing fascinations of mine, and I hope to create works that express these interests in the best way possible. 

Q: Have you thought about what the dissertation period might look (and sound) like? 

A: Given the uncertain times we're in, I'm honestly mostly engrossed in the present, and in trying to make the most out of my residential period. I hope that my dissertation period, two years from now, will reflect and build on the work and relationships I cultivate now.

Q: How did you exercise your creativity this summer? 

A: For the last few months, I've been working on a piece for soprano and orchestra commissioned by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. So that has kept me pretty busy!  

Q: What have you been reading, listening to, and watching lately? 

A: I've found myself going back a lot lately to some of my early favorite composers and listening to their works that I somehow missed. Brahms' Horn Trio, for example. I find the third movement to be heartbreakingly beautiful.   

I recently read The Arithmetic of Listening: Tuning Theory and History for the Impractical Musician by Kyle Gann, which I found really fun and interesting. If you're into nerdy microtonal theory (as I am), this one's for you. 

This is the second installment in a series called Generation YSM: Fall 2020.