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Retiring YSM Dean Robert Blocker honored at concert celebration

Blocker received Nathan Hale Award

YSM Dean Robert Blocker, right, receives the prestigious Nathan Hale Award from Yale President Peter Salovey. Photo by Harold Shapiro

On April 27, Yale President Peter Salovey hosted a concert event in celebration of Yale School of Music Dean Robert Blocker’s 28 years of distinguished service to the University. Blocker will retire as Dean on August 31. The event in Morse Recital Hall was attended by members of the University Cabinet and the School of Music’s Board of Advisors, as well as YSM students, faculty, staff, and friends. “The breadth and depth of Robert’s achievements,” Salovey said, “have established a thriving intellectual and creative environment at Yale’s School of Music and elevated its profile as a leading center of learning for ascendant artists and composers.” Other dignitaries who lauded Blocker’s leadership included Yale President Emeritus and the Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Economics Emeritus Richard Levin, YSM alum and Juilliard School President Emeritus Joseph Polisi, and founding members of the YSM Board of Advisors John A. Herrmann Jr. and Anne-Marie Soullière.

Blocker received Yale’s prestigious Nathan Hale Award for his dedicated service to the University, and Salovey, in honor of Blocker’s transformative tenure, announced the creation of the Robert Blocker Fund for Student Support. On behalf of YSM’s Board, Herrmann and Soullière announced the establishment of an endowed professorship and a scholarship in Blocker’s name.

A video montage set to a recording Blocker made with Associate Professor of Music William Boughton and members of the Yale Philharmonia of Gerald Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings, Op. 10, chronicled Blocker’s time at YSM. In his remarks, Salovey pointed out that Blocker is “acclaimed, of course, on the concert stage for his virtuosity, and with equal verve in the academy for his visionary leadership.”

“This University community shares in the ovations of audiences Robert has dazzled,” Salovey said. “We applaud his immense contributions that will be felt for generations to come.”

In his own remarks, Blocker thanked the YSM community and his wife, Serena, for making the School’s remarkable growth possible.

The celebration included performances by Blocker and members of the Yale Philharmonia (recorded); the YSM Brass Ensemble led by Professor William Purvis; soprano Jaeeun Shin ’24MMA, mezzo-soprano Kara Morgan ’24MMA, and Yale Opera Director Gerald Martin Moore; the Yale Glee Club led by Jeffrey Douma; the Callisto Quartet, YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, and the Olmeta Quartet; violinist Kate Arndt 19MM 20MMA 26DMA; Associate Professor Emerita Marguerite Brooks; and the Yale Percussion Group led by Director Robert van Sice.

A reception was held at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, outside of which Blocker greeted well-wishers before joining the festivities.

Watch the above-mentioned video montage here.