Prizes awarded at 2019 Honors Banquet

Retiring Professor of Trumpet Allan Dean, left, and School of Music Dean Robert Blocker

On Sunday, May 5, the School of Music held its annual Honors Banquet during which Dean Robert Blocker presented awards to students, many of whom will graduate on May 20. Blocker also recognized three faculty members for their contributions to and beyond the YSM community. Faculty trumpeter Allan Dean, who is retiring after 30 years at the School, received the Gustave Stoeckel Award for Excellence in Teaching. Blocker said Prof. Dean was always ready to perform in service to the School “with love and affection” for the music he was making. “It’s been a great run,” Dean said.

Blocker presented Assistant Professor of Cello Ole Akahoshi with the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award, describing Akahoshi as a “distinguished alumnus” of the School and a “wonderful human being.” Akahoshi led the Yale Cellos this year in the absence of longtime Prof. Aldo Parisot, who retired in June after 60 years on the School’s faculty and passed away in December. Akahoshi dedicated the award to the Yale Cellos, saying, “We all miss Mr. Parisot. He would have been proud.”

William Boughton, Lecturer in Music at YSM and interim conductor of the Yale Symphony Orchestra, received the School’s Cultural Leadership Citation in large part for his artistic leadership of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Boughton is serving in his final season as Music Director of the NHSO, a position to which he was appointed in 2007. During his tenure, the NHSO has twice earned an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. “He reignited the New Haven Symphony Orchestra,” Blocker said.

“Many of you will complete your studies at YSM in just a few short weeks,” Blocker told students. “Let tonight be a harbinger of what is to come as we celebrate your collective futures.” At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, students remained at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale for an after-party to dance and celebrate the end of the academic year.

View the full photo gallery.

The following student prizes were presented during the Honors Banquet.

Left to right: Professor in the Practice of Horn William Purvis, flutist Jungah Yoon, and Dean Robert Blocker

Brass and Woodwinds

The Thomas Daniel Nyfenger Memorial Prize, which is awarded to a graduating student who has demonstrated the highest standard of excellence in woodwind playing, was presented to flutist Jungah Yoon. The John Swallow Prize, which is given to an outstanding brass player whose artistry and dedication have contributed to the department, was awarded to tubist Jake Fewx.

Choral Conducting

The Robert Shaw Prize, given in honor of the renowned American choral conductor and awarded to a choral conducting major in the School of Music chosen by the choral conducting faculty for distinguished achievement, was presented to Margaret Burk.


The Woods Chandler Memorial Prize for the best composition in a larger form written during the year was awarded to Nate May. The Rena Greenwald Memorial Prize for the best piano composition written during the year went to Miles Walter. The John Day Jackson Prize for outstanding chamber music compositions written for strings with or without other instruments was presented to Aaron Levin. The Frances E. Osborne Kellogg Memorial Prize for the best composition written in a contrapuntal style was given to Grant Luhmann. And the Ezra Laderman Prize for the best compositions written for musical theater or voice was awarded to Tanner Porter.


The Eliot Fisk Prize, which is given to an outstanding guitarist whose artistic achievement and dedication have contributed greatly to the department, was awarded to Nicoletta Todesco.


The Charles Ives Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding organ major, went to Ryan Kennedy. The Julia R. Sherman Memorial Prize for excellence in organ playing was awarded to Jacob Reed.

Left to Right: Dean Robert Blocker, pianists Janice Yu and Gabriele Strata, and Associate Professor of Piano Wei-Yi Yang


The Charles S. Miller Prize, which is given to a gifted pianist who has done outstanding work during the first year of study, was awarded to Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner. The Elizabeth Parisot Prize, which goes to outstanding pianists in the School of Music, was awarded to Gabriele Strata and Janice Lu.


The Georgina Lucy Grosvenor Memorial Prize, which is awarded to the violist in the graduating class whose performances while at Yale have exhibited the highest potential for success as a soloist or chamber musician in the field, was given to Marlea Simpson. The Aldo Parisot Prize, which is awarded to gifted cellists who show promise for a concert career, was presented to Guilherme Nardelli Monegatto and Anita Balazs. The Broadus Erle Prize, which is given to outstanding violinists in the School of Music, went to Matthew Woodard, Ariel Horowitz, and Sirena Huang.


The David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding singer in the School of Music, went to Matthew Cossack. The Smriti Deb Memorial Prize, which is given to an outstanding graduating singer who best reflects and exemplifies the ideals and values of Smriti Deb and her commitment to teaching low-income and underrepresented children, was awarded to Rachel Weishoff. And the Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize, whose purpose is to assist in launching the career of a graduating voice student who demonstrates exceptional talent as an artist and promise for professional success, was awarded to Lauren McQuistin.

Doctor of Musical Arts

The Friedmann Thesis Prize, which is awarded to a DMA candidate whose thesis is notable for its distinguished research, original perspective, in-depth engagement with its subject, and well-crafted presentation, was given to composer Nate May.

Left to right: violinist Emily Switzer, violinist Ye Jin Min, violinist Kate Arndt, trumpeter Chloe Swindler, Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, horn player Antonia Chandler, Dean Robert Blocker, choral conductor Andrew Hon, Director of Admissions and Alumni Affairs Donna Yoo, tenor Luis Aguilar, guitarist Nicoletta Tedesco, pianist Szymon Nehring, and organist David Simon


The Malcolm L. Mitchell and Donald M. Roberts Class of 1957 Prize, which is given to an outstanding graduating teaching artist in the Music in Schools Initiative, was awarded to horn player Esteban Garcia. The Philip Francis Nelson Prize, which is awarded to a graduating student whose musicianship is outstanding and who demonstrates curiosity, talent, and an entrepreneurial spirit in the many dimensions of the music profession, was presented to vocalist Ned Vogel. The Presser Foundation Music Award, which is awarded to an outstanding returning student to advance the student’s music education, went to Daniel Tucker. And the Yale School of Music Alumni Association Prize, which is awarded to graduating students who have not only excelled in their respective fields but have also made important contributions to the general life of the School, was presented to Luis Aguilar, Andrew Chun Fung Hon, Nicoletta Tedesco, Matthew Woodard, Antonia Chandler, Chloe Swindler, Kate Arndt, Ye Jin Min, Emily Switzer, Szymon Nehring, and David Simon.

Photos by Harold Shapiro.


Published May 9, 2019
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Hurun Report recognizes YSM with New York-China Award

YSM Dean Robert Blocker

In January, YSM Dean Robert Blocker accepted an award, on behalf of the School of Music, from the Hurun Report. The Shanghai-based media company presented New York-China Awards “recognizing outstanding contributions to the New York-China relationship.” The Yale School of Music was acknowledged “for services to music education.”

Among the other award recipients at a Jan. 23 dinner at the Harvard Club of New York City were Carnegie Hall Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson and Steinway & Sons.


Published February 7, 2019
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YSM Alumni News | May 2018

Pianist Tanya Bannister CERT was named president of the Concert Artists Guild. She succeeds Richard S. Weinert, who plans to retire in June after 18 years at the organization.

Violinist Qi Cao ’10MM won a position with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra and will join the ensemble in September 2018. Cao has been a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for five years.

The Jasper String Quartet. Photo by Dario Acosta

The Jasper String Quartet, which includes violinists John Freivogel ’10AD and Sae Chonabayashi, violist Sam Quintal ’10AD, and cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel ’10AD, had their album Unbound named one of The New York Times’ “Top 25 Classical Albums of 2017.” The recording includes works by YSM alumni Judd Greenstein ’04MM, Caroline Shaw ’07MM, Missy Mazzoli ’06MM, Ted Hearne ’08MM ’09MMA ’14DMA, and David Lang ’83MMA ’89DMA and was released on the Sono Luminus and New Amsterdam labels.

Composers Michael Gilbertson ’13MM ’21DMA and Ted Hearne ’08MM ’09MMA ’14DMA were named co-finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Gilbertson was nominated for his work Quartet, which was commissioned by the Verona Quartet, Concert Artists Guild, and BMI Foundation, and Hearne was nominated for his work Sound from the Bench, which was commissioned by Volti and The Crossing.

Darren Hicks

Darren Hicks ’14MM was appointed associate principal bassoonist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Hicks has been a fellow at the New World Symphony, in Miami Beach, Fla., for the past three years.

Alumna Molly Joyce ’17MM and incoming students Alexis C. Lamb ’20MM and Peter Shin ’20MMA received ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

Violinist Dennis Kim ’98MM was named concertmaster of the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, Calif. Kim has served as concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra since 2015.

Composers Yoshiaki Onishi ’07MM ’08AD and Carl Schimmel ’99MM were awarded Guggenheim Fellowships for music composition.

Two alumni received awards from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Bass-baritone Christian Van Horn ’02MM ’03AD received the Richard Tucker Award, and bass David Leigh ’14MM received a Sara Tucker Study Grant.

Published May 9, 2018
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YSM composers win American Academy of Arts and Letters awards

Hilary Purrington

Three YSM alumni composers and one current student have received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the organization announced last month. Awardees were selected by a committee of Academy members including Yehudi Wyner ’50BA ’52BM ’53MM, Martin Boykan ’53MM, YSM faculty composer Aaron Jay Kernis, Samuel Adler, Sebastian Currier, Stephen Jaffe, Tobias Picker, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Sixteen composers in all received awards this year from the Academy.

Carl Schimmel ’99MM earned a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship, which is awarded to two composers each year. The fellowship, which comes with a $15,000 prize, was created in 1978 with an endowment from the CBS Foundation in memory the former Columbia Records president, who had died a year earlier.

Andrew Norman ’09AD received a $10,000 Arts and Letters Award in Music, which honors outstanding artistic achievement. The Academy established the award in 1941 to encourage creative work in the arts. Each year, five artists, eight authors, four composers, and four architects receive the prize. Composers receive an additional $10,000 to facilitate a recording of their work.

Katherine Balch ’16MM and current YSM student Hilary Purrington ’17MMA each received a $7,500 Charles Ives Scholarship, which is given to composition students of “great promise.” The scholarship was created when Ives’ widow, Harmony Ives, bequeathed the royalties from her husband’s music to the Academy of Arts and Letters. Two fellowships of $15,000 and six scholarships of $7,500 are awarded each year to composers.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 to “foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts,” according to language on the organization’s website. Each year, the Academy honors more than 50 composers, artists, architects, and writers with cash awards ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. The Academy also presents exhibitions of art, architecture, and manuscripts and organizes readings of new musicals.


Published April 6, 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 ]

Natalie Dietterich wins ASCAP Morton Gould Award

Natalie Dietterich

Natalie Dietterich

Natalie Dietterich ’16 MM, has been named one of the receipients of the 2016 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. In addition to being recognized as one of this year’s winners, Dietterich is also the recipient of the Leo Kaplan Award, which was instituted in memory of the distinguished attorney who served as ASCAP Special Distribution Advisor.

Congratulating the Award recipients, Paul Williams said, “These gifted young composers ranging in age from 14 to 30 represent the bright future of American concert music. We congratulate them and extend our great appreciation to the dedicated panel of ASCAP members who selected the winners from over 700 submissions.” The composers will be recognized at the annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards event in September. MORE

Published April 19, 2016
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[ faculty in the press ]

Willie Ruff is called a “legend in his own time” at Arts Council Awards | By Amy J. Barry, Correspondent

Willie Ruff, a world-renowned jazz musician and educator who has lived in Branford for more than 30 years, is a “legend in his own time,” says Cynthia Clair, the executive director of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

During the Arts Council’s annual awards ceremony earlier this month at the New Haven Lawn Club, where Ruff was the recipient of the C. Newton Schenck III Award for Lifetime Achievement in and Contribution to the Arts, Clair pointed out that Ruff, who attended Yale School of Music as an undergraduate after serving in the Army, performed internationally for 50 years with the late pianist Dwike Mitchell. The duo shared the stage with such jazz icons as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan and is credited with bringing jazz to new audiences around the world, most notably in the Soviet Union in 1959 and China in 1989.

“Among the many things I find fascinating is Willie speaks seven languages,” Clair says. “And he brought the jazz greats of our time to New Haven over the past 30 years. Through the Duke Ellington Fellowship [that he established], he not only introduced them to New Haven audiences, but took them into New Haven Schools.” MORE

Published December 18, 2015
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[ in the press ]

YDN: Jazz pioneer receives lifetime achievement award

Photo by Harold Shapiro

Photo by Harold Shapiro

Yale Daily News | By Maya Chandra

Yale School of Music professor Willie Ruff ’53 YSM ’54 was presented with the C. Newton Schenck III Award for Lifetime Achievement award at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven Friday.

Arts Council Executive Director Cindy Clair said Ruff’s national prominence as a jazz figure, his lengthy teaching career and his work with the Duke Ellington Fellowship program — an initiative that brings world-renowned jazz musicians to Yale and New Haven Public Schools -— made him an excellent candidate for the award at the Arts Council’s annual Art Awards Luncheon this past weekend.

Ruff, who played the French horn and double bass alongside pianist Dwight Mitchell for more than 50 years, accompanied Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and other world-famous jazz musicians throughout his roughly 60-year career. But despite rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in jazz and being a leader in the genre, Ruff, who joined the Yale faculty in 1971, remains down-to-earth and high spirited. MORE

Published December 7, 2015
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[ in the press ]

Willie Ruff among Greater New Haven Arts Council honorees

Willie Ruff

Willie Ruff

New Haven Register | By Joe Amarante

There’s something special about the art of Susan Clinard, who is quick to point out that there’s something very special about art in general — as a powerful tool for self- and world-awareness. Wood sculptor Clinard, who has created a notable body of work in her artist residency at Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop, will be one of six people and organizations honored at the annual Arts Council of Greater New Haven Awards and Luncheon Dec. 4 at the New Haven Lawn Club.[…]

The Arts Council has been host to the annual Arts Awards for three-plus decades. And speaking of long commitments, the C. Newton Schenck III Award for Lifetime Achievement (and Contributions to the Arts) will go to Willie Ruff, an accomplished and Yale-educated jazz musician who has also served the community as an educator at Yale, writer (about classical composer Paul Hindemith, who was a teacher of his at Yale, and about his experiences with jazz composers Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn) and ambassador (his Mitchell-Ruff Duo was the first jazz band to play in the Soviet Union and China). MORE

Published December 1, 2015
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