Commencement focuses on the artist’s role

YSM Commencement 2019In his remarks to members of the Class of 2019 during the School of Music’s 126th Commencement on May 20, Dean Robert Blocker told graduates, “The world needs you! It is gasping for the oxygen that your talent and sense of justice can provide.”

Before awarding diplomas to 110 graduates, Blocker presented three students prizes. Composer Miles Walter ’20MM was awarded the Harriet Gibbs Fox Memorial Prize, which is given to the student who has achieved the highest grade-point average during the student’s first year at the School; composer Frances Pollock ’19MM was awarded the Horatio Parker Memorial Prize, which is given to the student who best fulfills Dean Parker’s lofty musical ideals; and violist Marta Lambert ’19MM was presented with the Dean’s Prize, the School’s highest excellence award.

Blocker lauded the work members of the graduating class did to make their community a more welcoming place for those who call the School home, even for a few relatively short years. He cited OutLoud, the School’s first-ever affinity group, which seeks to create a safe space for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff. And he praised the YSM Black Collective, whose leadership, “with courage, kindness, and restraint, called on our community to become better educated about unconscious and implicit bias.” Blocker also referenced the Music in Schools Initiative and the School’s Declaration on Equity in Music for City Students in pointing to the School’s commitment to advocacy and action.

Faculty trumpeter Allan Dean and faculty and University organist Thomas Murray performed Schubert’s An die Musik, which students, faculty, and staff sang, in keeping with School tradition. For Dean and Murray, the performance marked the end of decades-long careers at Yale. Both retired at the end of the academic year.

Watch Dean Blocker’s 2019 Commencement Address, Why Music Matters

Watch the presentation of student prices

Watch the awarding of diplomas

Published May 23, 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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Alumni composers win Guggenheim Fellowships

Samuel Adams and Suzanne Farrin (photo by Luke Redmond)

Yale School of Music alumni composers Suzanne Farrin ’00MM  ’03MMA  ’08DMA and Samuel Adams ’10MM are two of only 11 composers to receive the prestigious 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship. In an April 10 press release, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced that its board of trustees “approved the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of 168 scholars, artists, and writers. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-fifth competition.”

Farrin is the Frayda B. Lindemann Professor of Music and Chair at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Her opera dolce la morte was premiered in 2016 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to great acclaim. She has written works for the JACK Quartet and SŌ Percussion and won the 2017 Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize in composition. Read more about Suzanne Farrin

Adams is a 2019 Djerassi Resident Artists Fellow and has previously held residencies at Civitella Ranieri (Umbria, Italy), the Visby International Centre for Composers (Visby, Sweden), Avaloch Farm Music Institute (Boscawen, New Hampshire) and Ucross (Ucross, Wyoming). He served as the curator for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series from 2015-2018 and has received commissions from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall. Read more about Samuel Adams

 

Published April 17, 2019
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Yale in New York concert celebrates YSM’s guitar and composition programs

Ben Verdery

Benjamin Verdery

In programming Music for Guitars, an upcoming Yale in New York series concert at Carnegie Hall, faculty guitarist Benjamin Verdery reflected on a November 2010 program that featured music by a host of Yale-affiliated composers. That program, by design, celebrated the legacies of the School of Music’s composition and guitar programs.

Verdery also reflected, in curating the upcoming Yale in New York program, on inspiration he found, a little more than 10 years ago, at the Rhode Island School of Design. Verdery’s son was applying to the school, whose application requirements included drawing a bicycle or some element thereof. Accepted students’ illustrations were on view when Verdery brought his son to Providence to visit the school. “It was mind-bending,” Verdery said.

“I’m going to have my friends write a piece of music—just the notes, the pitches and the rhythms,” without tempo or dynamic indications, he decided. Since then, each year, prospective School of Music students applying to study with Verdery have been required to learn and perform, as part of their audition, a piece written by one of Verdery’s colleagues, along with other repertoire. Like RISD’s bicycle-drawing admissions requirement, the commissioned audition pieces leave room for interpretation, giving Verdery some insight into the ability and creativity of prospective students.

Those who have been commissioned by Verdery to compose audition pieces, over the course of the past decade, include former YSM Dean and Prof. of Music Ezra Laderman, faculty composers Martin Bresnick and Christopher Theofanidis; Lecturer in Electronic Music Jack Vees; YSM alumni Bryce Dessner, James Moore, and Brendon Randall-Myers; Yale University Department of Music Prof. Kathryn Alexander; and current composition student Tanner Porter, among others. Audition pieces by the above-mentioned musicians will be showcased as part of Music for Guitars, the third and final concert in the 2018-2019 Yale in New York series. The concert will feature Verdery and current School of Music students and alumni, including René Izquierdo.

The program also includes works by Hindemith (who taught at the School of Music), Mudarra, and Terry Riley; arrangements of music by Bach, Scarlatti, and Schubert; and world premieres of James Moore’s Turning and Verdery’s arrangement, for guitar and string quartet, of Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. Izquierdo will perform Turning, which was this year’s YSM guitar audition piece. Verdery will perform the Bernstein with violinists Kate Arndt and Gregory Lewis, violist Marta Lambert, and cellist Guilherme Monegatto-all current YSM students.

The repertoire for the program reaches back to 16th century composer Alonso Mudarra’s fantasias for vihuela—which will be played on an instrument from the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments—and visits music composed since then and up to the present. The program also taps into the arranging chops of the guitarists who’ll be performing. It’s something “all of us in the world of guitar do,” Verdery said.

“There’s a lot of color and expression of what the guitar is,” Verdery said of the program. There will also be a lot of virtuosity on display—and, like the 2010 program, of which it’s a musical extension, many connections to the School of Music.

The School of Music’s Yale in New York series presents Music for Guitars on Friday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m., at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. A preview concert is scheduled for Thursday, March 28, at 4:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall. Admission to the preview concert is free.

PREVIEW CONCERT
YALE IN NEW YORK

Published March 20, 2019
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Ensemble of YSM clarinetists to perform at Carnegie Hall

David Shifrin

It’s been 235 years since Mozart composed his Adagio in B-flat major for two clarinets and three basset horns. That is, clarinet ensembles have been a thing for centuries. In the mid-20th century, concertgoers in the United States heard performances by large clarinet choirs. YSM faculty clarinetist David Shifrin has organized a pair of concerts geared toward introducing today’s audiences to that tradition. Since Mozart wrote his Adagio, Steve Reich, Peter Schickele, and Jeff Scott have written for clarinet ensemble. Works by other composers have been so arranged.

The second concert in this season’s Yale in New York series, Shifrin said, will trace “the tradition of the sound of clarinet ensembles,” calling on current YSM students, alumni, and undergraduates from Yale College. The program, which includes music by the above-mentioned composers and others, will put on display the “versatility of the instrument as well as the homogeneity of sound.” Nearly two-dozen clarinetists will participate, along with two percussionists who will perform on Scott’s Expeditionary Airmen (Three Day Pass) and arrangements of Benny Goodman’s versions of tunes by Eubie Blake and Henry Lodge. An arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Shifrin said, will present concertgoers with “a living, breathing version of an organ,” with each stop played by a human and featuring the full range of clarinets, from the contrabass clarinet—which Shifrin described as the “size of a small vehicle”—to the piccolo clarinet.

By design, the program will show off the range of colors and styles that attracted Shifrin and other musicians to the instrument. It will also show off the musicians who have passed through Shifrin’s YSM studio and those who are currently studying at Yale. “To have this level of virtuosity, clarinetists coming together to play in an ensemble, is a rare type of event,” he said.

YSM faculty clarinetist David Shifrin will present Music for Clarinets as part of the School’s Yale in New York series, with a free preview concert at Yale on Thursday, Feb. 14, and a performance in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Friday, Feb. 15.

PREVIEW CONCERT
YALE IN NEW YORK

Published February 6, 2019
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YSM Alumni News | January 2019

Reena Esmail. Photo by Rachel Garcia

Conductor Jordan Brown AD led his first concert as Music Director of the New Sussex Symphony in November.

This Love Between Us: Prayers for Unity by composer Reena Esmail ’11MM ’14MMA ’18DMA, a work originally commissioned by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, was given its West Coast premiere by the Los Angeles Master Chorale in November at Walt Disney Concert Hall. In January, Esmail was named a 2019 United States Artists Fellow and was the Grand Prize winner of the S&R Foundation’s Washington Award. Trombonist Brittany Lasch ’12MM was among the Foundation’s Washington Award winners.

Joseph Fala ’17MM, who is in his second year as an Organ Scholar at Duke Chapel, performed a recital in December at Duke University.

Pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov ’18AD performed two cycles by Rachmaninov at Sudler Hall in November as part of a concert series titled Reflections of the Russian Exodus, presented by the European Studies Council.

Sarita Kwok. Photo by Kate Lemmon

Gordon College named violinist Sarita Kwok ’05MMA ’06AD ’09DMA the Adams Endowed Chair in Music. A celebratory performance was given by faculty and students of the college’s Department of Music in November.

Oboist Anna Mattix ’98MM and composer Caroline Mallonee ’00MM are featured on the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s newest recording. Mattix is the soloist on Vox Humana, a work commissioned for her, and Mallonee composed Whistler Waves on a commission for the BPO’s associate principal cellist.

Proving Up, an opera by composer Missy Mazzoli ’06MM, was listed as one of the year’s “Best Performances” in The New York Times’ “The Best Classical Music of 2018.”

Conductor Julian Pellicano ’07MM ’09MM led the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in a performance of John Williams’s score for Home Alone as part of the VSO at the Movies series in December.

Baritone David Pershall ’10MM ’11AD sang the role of Silvio in Pagliacci at the San Francisco Opera in September.

Violinist Igor Pikayzen ’11MM ’12AD was featured in “Sounds for a Starry Night,” a concert held in December at the Westport Woman’s Club. Proceeds from the performance contributed to scholarships for Staples High School seniors.

Dantes Rameau

Bassoonist Dantes Rameau ’07MM, founder of the Atlanta Music Project, which provides free music education in neighborhoods where school music programs are limited, was named one of the Top 30 Professionals of 2018 by Musical America.

In association with the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Sarah Svendsen ’15MM performed a recital and led a youth-oriented workshop on the pipe organ in November.

Tubist Antonio D. Underwood ’87MM was a featured keynote speaker at Hagerstown Community College’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Celebration in Januray.

Published January 24, 2019
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YSM Alumni News | November 2018

Molly Joyce. Photo by Nadine Sherman

Flutist Amanda Baker ’00MM returned to Yale in April 2018 to become Senior Associate Director for Young Alumni for the Yale Alumni Fund. She was also a guest lecturer this spring at the University of Hartford, where she taught “Entrepreneurship in the Arts,” and continues to teach flute at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Double Bassist Mark Elliot Bergman ’97MM received a Performing Arts Fellowship in Music from the Wyoming Arts Council, one of four recipients in the state. Bergman’s winning original compositions include Ondine, The Temple, and Shenandoah Suite, a string trio commemorating the 75th anniversary of the founding of Shenandoah National Park.

Violist Emily Grace Brandenburg ’17MMA was named Administrative Assistant at the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. MORE

Published November 7, 2018
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Miki Sawada ’14AD brings music to rural audiences

Miki Sawada

Political divisions have had many musicians thinking about the artist’s role in society. “As a musician, what is the way forward?” pianist and YSM alumna Miki Sawada ’14AD began asking herself two years ago. “Playing piano like I’d always played piano was no longer an option.”

Sawada, an accomplished concert performer and music educator, decided that the way forward was to use the piano as an instrument of healing, a gathering place where people of all backgrounds could enjoy music together. The way forward was to bring performances to people who may not ordinarily have access to them. In August 2017, Sawada launched the Gather Hear project, which involved, to begin, touring Alaska for three weeks in a van with a piano and a filmmaker, documenting the journey and giving a total of 25 performances in the cafés, bars, parks, and schools of largely rural communities. Eventually, Sawada intends to tour all 50 states.

“Alaska has an almost mythical quality,” Sawada said. The state’s vastness and the sparseness of its communities appealed to Sawada, and the close-knit nature of people in rural areas allowed her to find collaborators. In addition to her own solo playing and engaging with audiences, Sawada connected with a young local musician at each venue. She ended up performing with students of all levels, from beginner violinists to high school pianists.

Booked into unorthodox and often noisy venues, Sawada’s biggest fear before embarking on the tour was that no one would want to sit quietly and listen. “The night before I left, I got cold feet,” she said. She thought, “What if no one wants to hear me?” But her experience was quite the opposite. “There was total silence,” she said, noting “a change in the room” when she began to play, wherever she was.

While the Gather Hear Tour was sparked primarily by a desire to connect with diverse audiences, Sawada had long been interested in taking classical music beyond the confines of the concert hall. “I always envied my friends who could take their instruments and perform in pop-up concerts,” she explained. While taking a piano on tour requires some extra labor, Sawada has shown that it can be done. The instrument with which she toured Alaska is a hybrid keyboard with no strings to tune, equipped with its own amplification. However more difficult the instrument is to transport than a flute, the piano is a necessary, central focus of the project — a gathering place where people are encouraged to stop and listen, and to participate in the music-making.

Following the Alaskan tour, Sawada turned her attention to West Virginia, where Gather Hear performances featured a new work by composer and fellow YSM alumnus Brendon Randall-Myers ’14MM, a West Virginia native. Randall-Myers’ new work, A Kind of Mirror, combines classical repertoire with original music. Created to reflect the mission of the Gather Hear project, A Kind of Mirror calls for audience participation, with theatrical prompts shaped with the help of director Daniel Pettrow. At one point, an audience member is asked to make tea on stage, and the ending of the performance involves a large amount of bubble wrap.

While performances of A Kind of Mirror are somewhat structured, there is room for collaboration. “The show is built in a way so that piano players in the audience could potentially, spontaneously take the stage,” Sawada said, “or if I meet a classical musician in town when I arrive at a tour stop, I could work a collaborative performance with them into the show.”

Sawada seems flexible when it comes to life on the road, which she has found enjoyable. States on the radar for future Gather Hear tours include Missouri, Michigan, and Florida. Sawada may even attempt to tour all three within the next year. She is in no rush, however. “If it takes 50 years, that’s fine,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how the project changes over time.”

MIKI SAWADA

Published November 6, 2018
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Wei-Yi Yang to perform all-Schumann program

Wei-Yi Yang

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, faculty pianist Wei-Yi Yang ’95MM ’96AD ’99MMA ’04DMA will perform an all-Schumann program that includes the composer’s Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, and Fantasie in C major. We spoke with Yang about the repertoire and his approach thereto.

Q: What is your connection to Schumann’s music? What about his piano writing resonates with you and why (if that can be articulated)? How and why did you choose these three works?

A: I always have a special place in my heart for Schumann’s music. Right now, my heart is saturated with it. Schumann’s obsessive, at times possessed, ways of expressing his emotions never fail to amaze me. I find it helpful to approach the heart of his music by approximating the obsession that drove him. I return repeatedly to his lieder and movements from his chamber music to mine his creative energy — though it was the piano that served as the extension of his soul in his earlier period. Inspired by his forlorn love for Clara and the difficult circumstances surrounding their forced separation, these opuses are Schumann’s ultimate love letters to her. Deciphering such personal and intimate pieces requires a certain psychological projection; it is uneasy study and work, but personally, I find a certain voyeuristic pleasure in this effort.

Q: What do these pieces require of you, physically (technically), mentally, and emotionally?

A: So much of this music is spurred by fragility, obsession, and whimsy, but at its heart lies one of the most challenging interpretive aspects: it is the portrayal of loneliness. In handling the many varied moments of heightened intensity, the succession of moods requires enormous imagination and sound resources. Often, I remind myself in practice: the hands need to move, but the ears need to move faster.

Q: These pieces were written during the same period. What do they tell us about Schumann’s life and work at that point? This music is informed by E.T.A. Hoffman’s Kreisler, inspired by the work of Beethoven, dedicated to Liszt and Chopin, and reflective of Schumann’s feelings for Clara. What do they require from an audience?

A: Schumann had a voracious appetite when it came to his attention to literature. In many ways, this repertoire represents his diary or love letters to Clara in musical form; I would further liken these pieces to three types of literary manifestation: if Kinderszenen were a collection of haiku miniatures, then Kreisleriana would be a novella rooted in violent schizophrenia, while the Fantasie represents an arching epic. Shifting between desires, fears, resignation, make-believe triumph, and longing, these are deeply personal works that cover enormous emotional terrain and can only be defined, and united, by conflicts between dreams and reality and mood swings. As a performer, I find it necessary to feel open and vulnerable, and let all guards down; as for the listeners, I would recommend the same.

The Horowitz Piano Series presents faculty pianist Wei-Yi Yang in an all-Schumann program that includes the composer’s Kinderszenen, Op. 15, Kreisleriana, Op. 16, and Fantasie in C major, Op. 17.

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HOROWITZ PIANO SERIES

Published November 2, 2018
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Violinist Vijay Gupta ’07MM earns MacArthur Fellowship

Vijay Gupta

Violinist Vijay Gupta ’07MM was working on Skid Row with Street Symphony when the MacArthur Foundation first tried to contact him in September. Not recognizing the number, he ignored a few calls until he was in his car, on the way to his day job at Walt Disney Concert Hall. “I was pretty dumbfounded,” Gupta said of learning that he had been named a MacArthur Fellow and would receive a Genius Grant for “providing musical enrichment and valuable human connection to the homeless, incarcerated, and other under-resourced communities in Los Angeles,” according to the MacArthur Foundation website.

The Foundation awards “unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

Gupta, a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, founded Street Symphony in 2011. The organization’s mission is to put “social justice at the heart of music making by creating authentic, powerful engagements between professional and emerging artists and communities disenfranchised by homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles County.”

The MacArthur Fellowship, Gupta said, “means that people have belief in me and belief in the work” he is doing. It is “affirming,” he said, a “vote of confidence.” It is also “pretty daunting” to think about how he will use what the Foundation calls a $625,000 “no-strings-attached award.”

“It’s overwhelming to think about all the possibilities,” Gupta said. The question he is asking himself is, “How do I use this for the deepest, most authentic self-evolution?” After all, “the opportunity to invest in oneself is so rare.”

The Fellowship, at its core, reflects his own belief in what he has been doing. The “validation of trust” that comes with the grant, he said, is forcing him to identify, in a way, who he wants to be through the work that he does, and “to be all that I am.”

Published October 15, 2018
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