Yale Percussion Group to perform music by Matt Keown and recent graduates

Left to right: YoungKyoung Lee, Matt Keown, and Sam Um

In early November, six members of the Yale Percussion Group arranged themselves in a line and rehearsed a snare-drum piece by current DMA candidate Matt Keown, who guided his colleagues, measure by measure, through the rudimental-style drumming that he grew up with. “My first instrument was a drum pad,” Keown ’16MM said, explaining that he followed his father, Alan Keown, into the practice of percussion — specifically, marching percussion, a world that for most is far-removed from the styles and techniques that Matt and his colleagues are studying with YPG Director Robert van Sice at YSM.

In composing Mélange, so named because it commemorates his time at YSM, Keown said, “I was really worried about it,” because “there’s still this stigma that marching percussion is ‘less than’ art music.” Keown also said he “had to be really careful about how difficult to make it,” given that his colleagues didn’t grow up with the style. While “it’s technically really challenging,” he said, “if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t work on it.” In addition to the music in Mélange, there is a theatrical element, based on the visual aspects of drum-corps performances.

If Keown was worried about his colleagues warming to his piece, van Sice was not. “They’re all over it,” the YPG director said.

On Sunday, Nov. 12, van Sice will lead the YPG in a program that’s rich in music by YSM alumni — including percussionist Leonardo Gorosito ’11MM ’12AD and composer Andy Akiho ’11MM — in addition to works by Philippe Manoury and Alejandro Viñao.

The program begins with Seeds, a piece by Gorosito and Rafael Alberto for various shakers that’ll be played by Keown and Yale College student Adrian Lin, whom van Sice called the “adopted younger brother of the YPG.” The first half also includes Akiho’s Pillar IV, which van Sice described as “groove music,” Manoury’s Le livre des claviers (II. Duo de marimbas), and Keown’s Mélange. The second half of the program features Viñao’s Water.

During rehearsals for the performance, van Sice talked about the approach he’s taken, over the past 20 years, in developing artists who think, always, like the most musically selfless of chamber-music practitioners. Playing chamber music, van Sice has said, is like “group parachuting.”

“Music and the art of playing music is something that is larger than we are,” he said, explaining, proudly, that the members of the YPG “know how to musically interact with other people.” And while that might seem like a no-brainer, it’s not necessarily the case elsewhere. Flowery talk is common in chamber-music circles, van Sice said, “but we really do try to walk that walk.”

The professionalism on display during YPG rehearsals is its own reward. As much as he gives them direction, van Sice said, “they inspire me back. They’re an inspiring group to work with.”


Published November 8, 2017
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Domenic Salerni joins Dalí Quartet and wins silver in the M-Prize Competition


Domenic Salerni

Domenic Salerni ’11 MM has been appointed first violinist of the Dalí Quartet, an ensemble that is known particularly for its excellence in Latin-American repertoire.

Furthermore, as a part of the septet Foundry, Salerni and YSM alumni Ian Rosenbaum ’10 MM ’11 AD, Andy Akiho ’11 MM, and Samuel Suggs ’14 MM, won second prize in the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition in the open division. Foundry is an ensemble that crosses and transcends genres, innovating new sounds through the synthesis of contemporary classical techniques and jazz, reggae, Caribbean, and Soca.  The M-Prize Competition (through the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance) awarded Foundry $7000.


Published June 28, 2016
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[ students & alumni ]

Faculty, Alumni, and Students Receive NEA Grants

The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced the recipients of their Art Works Grants for 2016, and several faculty, alumni, and student composers are among the awardees. The organization awarded $27 million for arts projects across the United States, and the first round of FY 2016 funding inaugurates the next 50 Years of National Endowment for the Arts Support.

The NEA defines “Art Works” as referring to three things: the works of art themselves, the ways art works on audiences, and the fact that art is work for the artists and arts professionals who make up the field. The NEA recognizes these catalytic effects of excellent art, and the key role that arts and design organizations play in revitalizing them. MORE

Published March 1, 2016
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[ students & alumni ]

YSM faculty and alumni receive grants from New Music USA

Harold Meltzer | Photo by Emily Greta Tabourin

Harold Meltzer | Photo by Emily Greta Tabourin

Several YSM faculty and alumni composers and performers have been selected to receive grants from New Music USA for its Fall 2015 Project Grants Awards. Totaling $276,770 in funding, the awards support artistic work involving a wide range of new American music. The 53 awarded projects include concerts and recordings as well as dance, theater, opera, and more, all involving contemporary music as an essential element. The public can explore awarded projects from all five rounds via media-rich project pages.

Harold Meltzer ’97 MMA, ’00 DMA was recognized as part of the American Notes commissioning initiative by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Along with composer Jessie Montgomery, Meltzer has been commissioned to create an original orchestral work for Orpheus to be premiered at Carnegie Hall and on tour to audiences across America in 2016.

The Music Mondays series in New York City was awarded a grant for the first-ever full-length portrait concert in New York City for Judd Greenstein ’04 MM. Titled City Boy: Music of Judd Greenstein, the concert featured the Claremont Trio, NOW Ensemble, and Roomful of Teeth, and was held on February 15, 2016 on the Upper West Side. MORE

Published February 23, 2016
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[ students + alumni ]

Yale Composers Featured at SONiC Festival in New York City

SONiC FestThe American Composers Orchestra’s SONiC Festival, focusing on composers ages 40 or younger, returns to New York City this month from Oct. 15–23. The second edition of the festival includes music by Yale faculty member Hannah Lash, current YSM composition students Michael Gilbertson and Molly Joyce, and YSM graduates Andy Akiho, Christopher Cerrone, Reena Esmail, Judd Greenstein, Ted Hearne, Missy Mazzoli, and Brendon Randall-Myers.


Published October 13, 2015
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[ alumni ]

Andy Akiho ’11 MM wins ACO’s Underwood Emerging Composer Commission

akiho_h_webComposer Andy Akiho has been named the winner of the American Composers Orchestra’s 2014 Annual Underwood Emerging Composers Commission. Chosen from seven finalists during ACO’s 23rd annual Underwood New Music Readings in April, Akiho will receive $15,000 for a work to be premiered by ACO in a future season.

The Underwood Commission is one of the most coveted opportunities for emerging composers in the United States. Akiho won the prize with his work Tarnished Mirrors.

ACO music director George Manahan said, “When the musicians of ACO and I performed Andy Akiho’s Tarnished Mirrors, we discovered a work of intense pulse – music with syncopations, cross-rhythms, and metric modulations. His clarity of orchestration reflected a deep understanding of idiomatic writing for the individual instruments and an original palette of colors. We look forward to performing a new commissioned work of Andy’s next season.” MORE

Published September 10, 2014
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[ in the press ]

Interview with Andy Akiho ’11MM

When Steel Talks

Quiet but passionate, unassuming but already musically an aficionado, Andy Akiho’s journey with the steelpan instrument began seventeen years ago at the University of South Carolina – and there’s just so much more to come. It is evident that not only his audiences but also the music world globally has sat up and taken note of this young man on his extraordinary evolutionary path. His most recent award (as at the time of this interview) is the Luciano Berio Rome Prize from The American Academy in Rome as one of the thirty-odd winners of the 118th annual Rome Prize Competition – in Akiho’s case, with a focus on Musical Composition – New Works for Orchestra, and interrelated with his work as a Ph.D. Candidate in Music Composition at Princeton. MORE

Published June 4, 2014
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Yale School of Music Alumnus Andy Akiho awarded Rome Prize for Composition

akiho_h_webOn April 10, 2014, Yale School of Music alumnus Andy Akiho ’11 MM was announced as a winner of the 188th Rome Prize Competition at the Arthur & Janet C. Ross Rome Prize Ceremony at the Harmonie Club in New York City.

Andy Akiho was awarded the Luciano Berio Rome Prize to compose new works for orchestra. Described as “mold-breaking” and “vital” by The New York Times and as “a young composer to watch” by The LA Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic and contemporary composer whose recent engagements include a commission by Carnegie Hall premiered by Ensemble ACJW, a world premiere commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, a performance with the LA Philharmonic, a tour in Taiwan for the 2012 International Drum Festival, and three shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC featuring original compositions.

The Rome Prize is awarded annually to 30 individuals who represent the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities. Each recipient is awarded a fellowship to finance their living and working space in Rome, where they will immerse themselves in the Rome Academy community for a period of 6–24 months. The program aims to cultivate an environment of collaborative scholarly flourishing and inspiration. The award is given to graduate and pre-doctoral fellows who are selected by eight juries.


Published April 16, 2014
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[ in the press ]

Chicago Classical Review: Akiho’s mesmerizing work the highlight of MusicNOW program

Chicago Classical Review
By Lawrence A. Johnson

The second MusicNOW program of the season served up one of the most compelling solo performances of the year, amid three other works that included a Mason Bates premiere.

akiho_h_webMusic for solo prepared piano seems to have gone the way of Nehru jackets over the last few decades—perhaps a victim of too many such works centered on mere sonic effects and gimmickry.

Monday night’s concert at the Harris Theater opened with Vick(i/y) by Andy Akiho. This remarkable 2008 work brings the prepared piano back to its roots, as an unorthodox tool to make music, not as a sound effects sampler or a quirky and “edgy” end in itself. MORE

Published December 18, 2013
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Andy Akiho wins eighth blackbird’s composition contest

Eighth Blackbird announced last week that Andy Akiho ’11MM has won the new music ensemble’s inaugural composition competition.

The final round of the competition was held at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.  Akiho was one of three finalists selected from an initial pool of 504 applicants. The finalists each received a cash prize and were invited to write a work for the ensemble.

As Eighth Blackbird wrote on its blog: “These three new works were workshopped in an intense, two-day period earlier this week. Last night saw the public premiere of the three pieces, in front of a crowd that included representatives of the competition’s generous partners, MakeMusic, and the American Composers Forum.”

Akiho’s piece was called ERASE. The other works were Eric Lindsay’s Town’s Gonna Talk and Kurt Rohde’s this bag is not a toy: a very short concerto for mixed ensemble without orchestra.

Evan Kuchar of Chicago Now wrote:

I thought Andy Akiho’s ERASE should have won and it did. And it won by having the right balance of stuff going on. And by using new sounds, new techniques but incorporating them seamlessly into the piece. Not technique for technique’s sake but in service of the music. And interesting rhythms. In fact, the piece was about rhythm…. ERASE had character and was subsequently more tangible and memorable. And I would be more interested in hearing it again.

As the competition winner, Akiho will receive an additional cash award and the promise of a future performance of ERASE by eighth blackbird.

Published December 12, 2011
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