Omer Quartet is named YSM’s new fellowship quartet-in-residence

Omer Quartet

Omer Quartet

The Omer Quartet has been named the new fellowship quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music. During its two-year appointment, which begins in the fall, the quartet will be mentored by the School’s ensemble-in-residence, the Brentano String Quartet, and will coach undergraduate chamber music ensembles at Yale College’s Department of Music. The Omer Quartet, which succeeds the Rolston String Quartet as YSM’s fellowship quartet, includes violinists Mason Yu and Erica Tursi, violist Jinsung Hong, and cellist Alex Cox.

The quartet won the Grand Prize and the Gold Medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2013 and was a first-prize winner at the 2017 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, among other distinctions. The quartet was formed at the Cleveland Institute of Music and later served a graduate residency at the New England Conservatory. The group has collaborated with such respected artists as Sérgio and Odair Assad, Eugene Drucker, Clive Greensmith, Kim Kashkashian, Cho-Liang Lin, Ricardo Morales, and the Borromeo String Quartet, and has collaborated with composers Perry Goldstein and Sean Shepherd.

The Omer Quartet comes to Yale having served as chamber-ensemble-in-residence at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival and as the doctoral fellowship quartet-in-residence at the University of Maryland. While at Yale, the quartet will be introduced to audiences in New Haven and beyond. In October, the group will perform concerts in Sudler Hall and at Carnegie Hall as part of YSM’s Yale in New York Series. In December, the quartet will perform a recital program in Morse Recital Hall.

Committed to community engagement, the quartet inaugurated a Music for Food concert series in the Washington D.C. area with the mission to support local hunger relief with a Tarisio Trust Young Artists Grant. The concerts involved local and out of town guest musicians and raised almost $5,000, creating over 10,000 meals to date.

Learn more about the ensemble at omerquartet.com.

Published July 25, 2019
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Brentano String Quartet to perform program of “Lamentations”

Brentano String Quartet

The Brentano String Quartet, left to right: violinist Serena Canin, cellist Nina Lee, violinist Mark Steinberg, and violist Misha Amory. Photo by Ian Christmann

Commenting on a concert program called “Lamentations,” Brentano String Quartet violinist Mark Steinberg explained, “There exists an old tradition of professional lamenters, who, as a service to those who grieve, digest and transfigure that grief in giving it voice,” asking, “What greater faith in art can be imagined?” The program, Steinberg said, “celebrates that art of cathartic expression in songs of lamentation from Purcell through Bartók and Carter, evincing strength and vulnerability in equal measure, through the intimacy and immediacy of the string quartet.”

The Brentano String Quartet, YSM’s outstanding ensemble-in-residence, will perform its “Lamentations” program at Yale on Tuesday, Jan. 29. We spoke recently with the group’s violist, Misha Amory, about the program.

Q: What are the origins of this program? How did you and your colleagues conceive “Lamentations” and choose the repertoire?

A: This project is a brainchild of Mark’s and has two origins behind it. One is the idea that music of mourning or lamentation is everywhere in our canon, composed and expressed in all periods and in all styles, and Mark felt it would be interesting to gather up examples of this into a single program so that we can appreciate how a diverse body of music can spring from a single, universal urge. The other idea propelling the project is perhaps more of a practical one, which is that each of these little pieces, taken on its own, is awkward to fit into a conventional string quartet program, which typically consists of three or four substantial works in several movements. In that type of program, smaller works might end up marginalized or lost in the bigger picture. This program enables us to perform these beloved pieces in a setting where their power is not dimmed, but rather thrown into relief.

Q: What other works of art, if any—literature, visual art, etc.—have you considered as you’ve developed this program?

A: We have not referred to works of art or literature that are not directly connected to the pieces on the program. That said, almost every piece on the program has some point of reference beyond “pure music.” The Haydn [“Eli, Eli” from the Seven Last Words of Christ] of course is music depicting the spirit of Christ’s final utterances, meant to provide time for meditation during the Good Friday service; Lekeu’s Molto Adagio is similarly religiously themed. [Purcell’s] Dido’s Lament connects us to Virgil’s Aeneid, an epic poem of antiquity, and more nearly to the world of Baroque opera, intertwining the sensibilities of two artistic periods pre-dating the string quartet. Shostakovich’s Elegy is his own transcription for string quartet of the extraordinary aria from his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk: like the Purcell, it displays the grief of a solitary and unloved one, and like the Purcell it is from an opera based on a great literary work of the past. The Gesualdo madrigals have their own poetic texts (of course not heard in a quartet performance), and madrigal form is the most literary of music, with every note and turn of phrase intimately connected to and entwined with its text. All in all, this program has deep ties to many primary strands in Western culture.

Q: Mark has asked, rhetorically, “What greater faith in art can be imagined?” What has music meant for you during times of grief and what is it about music that it can reach us so deeply?

A: This question needs a whole book to answer! I believe, personally, that the power of music in this sense is somehow connected to its non-verbal nature. Nobody can escape the experience of grief, and yet it will come to each person differently. Likewise, virtually no one is unaffected by music, but each listener will hear his own version. Music does not explicitly state its meaning in performance, leaving the listener to construe it according to her own lights. Sometimes music can be consoling, sometimes unbearable to one who is grieving; either way, it unquestionably penetrates deep into the psyche.

Q: What have conversations between you and your colleagues been like as you’ve rehearsed this repertoire? In what ways have you explored the composers’ motivations and intentions?

A: Mark once told me a story about being coached by Fritz Maag, a great cellist and musical thinker who was on the faculty at Indiana University. Mark was in a student group that was playing the grief-stricken opening of the finale of Beethoven’s Op. 95, a devastating passage of just a few bars. Mr. Maag memorably said, “As human beings, I hope you never have to experience the suffering contained in this music … but as artists, you have to be able to imagine it.” This is about as good a set of marching orders as there is for a musician aspiring to meaningful expression. We are always method actors of a sort, trying not just to understand the composer’s intention, but to crawl into his mind, to become him, or the person he is depicting. Of course it is part of every performer’s job to be well-grounded in the biographical and stylistic details of the composer he is performing, and I believe that this knowledge casts a kind of penumbra that deepens the performance and gives it resonance.  However, the chief part of our labor consists in engaging with the piece itself, at a molecular level: pondering the expressive aspects of a subphrase, meditating on the contours and textures of a single work by a single person, identifying what makes it unique by dwelling within it as a primary source. In fact, to spend too much time examining external considerations (for example, events in the composer’s life in the year of the composition) can have an oddly distracting, or diluting, effect on our work. We do best when we scrutinize the composer’s motivations and intentions as seen in the music that is on the page, before our eyes.

Q: Does this repertoire require a unique performance headspace? To what extent is each of you experiencing catharsis through playing this music and is that something you’ve discussed?

A: This program of lamentations is certainly concentrated on a special theme, a special state of mind. At the same time, the fabric of Western music is shot through with threads of grief and mourning—it is a powerful and ever-present trait in the music we play, and I can’t think of an important work that doesn’t contain at least moments of sorrow. So it would be fair to say that the feeling of playing music of this sort is almost second nature to us. I expect that an audience member might be surprised if he could enter into our thoughts as performers during a program, how they might seem dry and practical in comparison to the music itself. This is the double nature of being a performer, to take care of the laundry list of details while never losing sight of the transcendental nature of the art that confronts us.

Having said that, we find that the audiences that have heard this program do indeed enter into a “unique headspace,” which is very much what we hope for. Taken as a body of work, the pieces on the program slow down time; they invite a meditative state and ask for the listener’s compassion as she contemplates these manifold expressions of grief and loss expressed from so many different times and places. The catharsis will take place, it is hoped, in the minds of those who are listening.

The Brentano String Quartet will perform its “Lamentations” program on Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 7:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall.

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Published January 22, 2019
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Beloved, longtime faculty cellist Aldo Parisot dies at 100

Aldo Parisot

Today, Dean Robert Blocker informed the YSM community of the passing of beloved, longtime faculty cellist Aldo Parisot. Blocker’s statement follows.

Dear friends and colleagues,

I write to inform you that earlier today our beloved and esteemed Aldo passed away. Elizabeth and his sons were with him, and it will not surprise you to learn that a special recording of his music carried Aldo to his next world.

The family is making plans for a celebration of Aldo’s life, and the details will be sent to you when they become available. The family requests that memorial gifts be directed to the Yale Cellos Fund at the Yale School of Music.

The longest-serving faculty member in Yale’s history, Parisot retired from YSM earlier this year. YSM celebrated Parisot’s service and commitment to the School and its students with the following feature, which is forthcoming as the cover story of the next Music at Yale publication, due out in January 2019. In addition to the below story, faculty, staff, students, and alumni are encouraged to remember Aldo in his own words through a recent faculty profile video in which he described the “great, great joy” he found in teaching.

 

Cellist Aldo Parisot retires after 60 years at YSM

For 60 years, cellists from around the world came to the Yale School of Music to study with Aldo Parisot ’48 ’70MAH, a legendary figure in the field by any standard and an inimitable presence in the School’s studios and concert halls. In June, at 99, Parisot retired from teaching, eliciting reflections from those who knew and worked closely with him.

“The presence of Aldo Parisot in the School of Music has been transformative and transcendent,” YSM Dean Robert Blocker said upon Parisot’s retirement. “His strongly held opinions about artistic excellence have led generations of faculty and students to carefully consider their points of view about music making, but with his rigorous intonements came a palpable love for the beauty of music and what it means to our lives.”

Parisot began cello studies in his native Brazil, where he learned from his stepfather, cellist Tomazzo Babini. “When I heard his beautiful sound, I showed the desire to play immediately,” Parisot told Ralph Kirshbaum ’68BA, one of his most well-known students. “But before he would give me my first lesson he taught me solfège for two years. I didn’t play the cello until I was 7.” Parisot credits Babini — the only cello teacher he ever had — with helping to develop a technique that supported his creativity.

Parisot made his debut with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra at age 12. When he was 18, he became the ensemble’s principal cellist. It was in Rio de Janeiro that he came to the attention of an American attaché to the Brazilian embassy, Carleton Sprague Smith. Impressed with Parisot’s virtuosity, Smith offered to help him study abroad. Parisot was eager to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Emanuel Feuermann, who died before Parisot was scheduled to leave Brazil. Parisot’s plans changed, and, with Smith’s help, he secured a scholarship to study at the Yale School of Music, an offer he accepted on the condition that he would not have to take any cello lessons.

Parisot arrived at Yale in 1946 as a “special student.” He studied chamber music and, with composer Paul Hindemith, music theory. In 1948, he auditioned for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with which he played professionally for two years. But the orchestra life was not for him, and he longed to have a solo career. In 1950, he gave his debut recital at Town Hall in New York City, launching an international career that produced recordings for RCA Victor, Angel, Westminster, and Phonodisc. As a performer, Parisot was renowned for his beautiful sound and astonishing technique. He performed on stages throughout the world, both as a recitalist and as a soloist with major orchestras under the batons of such eminent conductors as Stokowski, Barbirolli, Bernstein, Mehta, Monteux, and others.

Parisot was driven to expand the cello repertoire, premiering numerous works for the instrument. Reacting to his 1966 premiere of Donald Martino’s Parisonatina al’Dodecafonia, composed for and dedicated to him, The Boston Globe declared, “There is probably no cellist that can equal Parisot’s dazzling achievement.” The New York Times weighed in, saying, “Those at this performance are not going to forget [Parisot’s] feat overnight.”

Parisot is one of the rare musicians who has loved teaching as much as he has loved playing. In 1958, he joined the faculty at the Yale School of Music. Along the way, in 1983, Parisot founded the Yale Cellos, an ensemble that has earned international acclaim for its rich sound, stunning virtuosity, beloved recordings, and numerous additions to the cello-ensemble literature. In 1988, Parisot closed out a remarkable performing career and dedicated himself fully to teaching. He was named the Samuel Sanford Professor of Music at Yale in 1994, and, in 2002, received the Gustave Stoeckel Award, the Yale School of Music’s most prestigious honor.

Throughout his career, Parisot viewed his students as family. “I have a great, great joy in teaching these people,” he said in 2017. “Those are my children … I see in them me, when (I) was young, and I want to see them succeed. I am very severe, because I care about them. I tell my students, ‘Your future depends on you. You’ve got to believe in yourself. You can do it. But only you can do it. I can only help you.”

Parisot did not want his students to imitate him as a player; instead he encouraged them to be themselves. “He told me that the highest aspiration of any teacher is to bring out each student’s individual character,” cellist Eric Adamshick ’17MM ’18MMA said. Discovering each student’s unique voice often meant finding new ways of approaching a piece of music. As Parisot said to Kirshbaum in an interview with The Strad, “I learn from my own students. Every day they surprise me. They come and do something, and I think, ‘Why didn’t I do that before? I never thought about that.’”

Parisot has long been known as a generous, passionate, forthright, and rigorous mentor. In addition to Kirshbaum, his former students include Jian Wang ’88CERT, Roman Jablonsky ’74MM, Shauna Rolston ’91BA ’93MM, and Carter Brey ’79. Parisot has called his students’ successes “an incredible pleasure.” He has taken a great interest in them as individuals and encouraged them to develop their own personalities, onstage and off. “I try to make students believe in themselves,” he said, “and that includes without the cello.”

Parisot’s creativity has not been limited to the performing arts. He has produced a significant number of paintings, describing his process as “painting by ear.” His visual artwork exudes his love of color and texture and in that way is reminiscent of his cello playing. Many of his works have been exhibited in concert halls and galleries around the world. He has given away many of his paintings, selling them at Yale Cellos concerts and other special events, donating the proceeds to a travel fund that he founded for YSM students.

Jenny Kwak ’17MM ’18MMA was nervous during her first lesson with Parisot. “All I could listen for were my technical mistakes,” Kwak said. “I wasn’t making any music. He stopped me and asked, ‘What are you so scared of? Do you believe in yourself?’ Surprised to hear the unexpected questions, I couldn’t answer him. He told me, ‘The most important thing is to believe in yourself.’ He showed me his paintings around the studio, and said, ‘When I created these paintings, they weren’t planned at all. I was inspired, and that’s what helped me to paint.’” The lesson learned, Kwak said, is that playing the cello is not about proving anything to the world or even to herself. It is about making something from inspiration.

As he said to Ralph Kirshbaum ’68BA, one of his most well-known students, in an interview with The Strad, “I learn from my own students. Every day they surprise me. They come and do something, and I think, ‘Why didn’t I do that before? I never thought about that.’”

Parisot has long been known as a generous, passionate, forthright, and rigorous mentor. In addition to Kirshbaum, his former students include Jian Wang, Roman Jablonsky, Shauna Rolston, and Carter Brey. Parisot has called his students’ successes “an incredible pleasure.” He has taken a great interest in them as individuals and encouraged them to develop their own personalities, onstage and off. “I try to make students believe in themselves,” he said, “and that includes without the cello.”

János Starker, Parisot’s friend of many years and a distinguished cello teacher at Indiana University, once described Parisot as “the best cello teacher I have met in my life.”

Parisot’s contributions to the field are immeasurable and will inform the practice of countless cellists in generations to come.

“He helped me foster and strengthen my own artistic voice,” Adamshick said. “His repeated stress on the idea of individuality and unique expression helped me discover a whole new level of self-awareness and self-confidence.”

Perhaps his most important gift to the art form is that he did not teach his students to play like him, but, rather, encouraged each of them to discover their own voice. “There are many people who imitate their teacher,” he said. “I hate the idea that there’s someone in the world who sounds like a little Aldo Parisot. You’ve got to be yourself. We’ve all got to find our own way.”

Aldo Parisot, the Cellist: The Importance of the Circle, a biography written by Susan Hawkshaw, was published in 2018 by Pendragon Press.

VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE SEPTEMBER 30 RETIREMENT EVENT

VIEW ALDO PARISOT’S FACULTY PROFILE VIDEO

Published December 29, 2018
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Cellist Aldo Parisot retires after 60 years at YSM

Aldo Parisot

For 60 years, cellists from around the world came to the Yale School of Music to study with Aldo Parisot ’48 ’70MAH, a legendary figure in the field by any standard and an inimitable presence in the School’s studios and concert halls. In June, at 99, Parisot retired from teaching, eliciting reflections from those who knew and worked closely with him.

“The presence of Aldo Parisot in the School of Music has been transformative and transcendent,” YSM Dean Robert Blocker said upon Parisot’s retirement. “His strongly held opinions about artistic excellence have led generations of faculty and students to carefully consider their points of view about music making, but with his rigorous intonements came a palpable love for the beauty of music and what it means to our lives.”

Parisot began cello studies in his native Brazil, where he learned from his stepfather, cellist Tomazzo Babini. “When I heard his beautiful sound, I showed the desire to play immediately,” Parisot told Ralph Kirshbaum ’68BA, one of his most well-known students. “But before he would give me my first lesson he taught me solfège for two years. I didn’t play the cello until I was 7.” Parisot credits Babini — the only cello teacher he ever had — with helping to develop a technique that supported his creativity.

Parisot made his debut with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra at age 12. When he was 18, he became the ensemble’s principal cellist. It was in Rio de Janeiro that he came to the attention of an American attaché to the Brazilian embassy, Carleton Sprague Smith. Impressed with Parisot’s virtuosity, Smith offered to help him study abroad. Parisot was eager to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Emanuel Feuermann, who died before Parisot was scheduled to leave Brazil. Parisot’s plans changed, and, with Smith’s help, he secured a scholarship to study at the Yale School of Music, an offer he accepted on the condition that he would not have to take any cello lessons.

Parisot arrived at Yale in 1946 as a “special student.” He studied chamber music and, with composer Paul Hindemith, music theory. In 1948, he auditioned for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with which he played professionally for two years. But the orchestra life was not for him, and he longed to have a solo career. In 1950, he gave his debut recital at Town Hall in New York City, launching an international career that produced recordings for RCA Victor, Angel, Westminster, and Phonodisc. As a performer, Parisot was renowned for his beautiful sound and astonishing technique. He performed on stages throughout the world, both as a recitalist and as a soloist with major orchestras under the batons of such eminent conductors as Stokowski, Barbirolli, Bernstein, Mehta, Monteux, and others.

Parisot was driven to expand the cello repertoire, premiering numerous works for the instrument. Reacting to his 1966 premiere of Donald Martino’s Parisonatina al’Dodecafonia, composed for and dedicated to him, The Boston Globe declared, “There is probably no cellist that can equal Parisot’s dazzling achievement.” The New York Times weighed in, saying, “Those at this performance are not going to forget [Parisot’s] feat overnight.”

Parisot is one of the rare musicians who has loved teaching as much as he has loved playing. In 1958, he joined the faculty at the Yale School of Music. Along the way, in 1983, Parisot founded the Yale Cellos, an ensemble that has earned international acclaim for its rich sound, stunning virtuosity, beloved recordings, and numerous additions to the cello-ensemble literature. In 1988, Parisot closed out a remarkable performing career and dedicated himself fully to teaching. He was named the Samuel Sanford Professor of Music at Yale in 1994, and, in 2002, received the Gustave Stoeckel Award, the Yale School of Music’s most prestigious honor.

Throughout his career, Parisot viewed his students as family. “I have a great, great joy in teaching these people,” he said in 2017. “Those are my children … I see in them me, when (I) was young, and I want to see them succeed. I am very severe, because I care about them. I tell my students, ‘Your future depends on you. You’ve got to believe in yourself. You can do it. But only you can do it. I can only help you.”

Parisot did not want his students to imitate him as a player; instead he encouraged them to be themselves. “He told me that the highest aspiration of any teacher is to bring out each student’s individual character,” cellist Eric Adamshick ’17MM ’18MMA said. Discovering each student’s unique voice often meant finding new ways of approaching a piece of music. As Parisot said to Kirshbaum in an interview with The Strad, “I learn from my own students. Every day they surprise me. They come and do something, and I think, ‘Why didn’t I do that before? I never thought about that.’”

Parisot has long been known as a generous, passionate, forthright, and rigorous mentor. In addition to Kirshbaum, his former students include Jian Wang ’88CERT, Roman Jablonsky ’74MM, Shauna Rolston ’91BA ’93MM, and Carter Brey ’79. Parisot has called his students’ successes “an incredible pleasure.” He has taken a great interest in them as individuals and encouraged them to develop their own personalities, onstage and off. “I try to make students believe in themselves,” he said, “and that includes without the cello.”

Parisot’s creativity has not been limited to the performing arts. He has produced a significant number of paintings, describing his process as “painting by ear.” His visual artwork exudes his love of color and texture and in that way is reminiscent of his cello playing. Many of his works have been exhibited in concert halls and galleries around the world. He has given away many of his paintings, selling them at Yale Cellos concerts and other special events, donating the proceeds to a travel fund that he founded for YSM students.

Jenny Kwak ’17MM ’18MMA was nervous during her first lesson with Parisot. “All I could listen for were my technical mistakes,” Kwak said. “I wasn’t making any music. He stopped me and asked, ‘What are you so scared of? Do you believe in yourself?’ Surprised to hear the unexpected questions, I couldn’t answer him. He told me, ‘The most important thing is to believe in yourself.’ He showed me his paintings around the studio, and said, ‘When I created these paintings, they weren’t planned at all. I was inspired, and that’s what helped me to paint.’” The lesson learned, Kwak said, is that playing the cello is not about proving anything to the world or even to herself. It is about making something from inspiration.

As he said to Ralph Kirshbaum ’68BA, one of his most well-known students, in an interview with The Strad, “I learn from my own students. Every day they surprise me. They come and do something, and I think, ‘Why didn’t I do that before? I never thought about that.’”

Parisot has long been known as a generous, passionate, forthright, and rigorous mentor. In addition to Kirshbaum, his former students include Jian Wang, Roman Jablonsky, Shauna Rolston, and Carter Brey. Parisot has called his students’ successes “an incredible pleasure.” He has taken a great interest in them as individuals and encouraged them to develop their own personalities, onstage and off. “I try to make students believe in themselves,” he said, “and that includes without the cello.”

János Starker, Parisot’s friend of many years and a distinguished cello teacher at Indiana University, once described Parisot as “the best cello teacher I have met in my life.”

Parisot’s contributions to the field are immeasurable and will inform the practice of countless cellists in generations to come.

“He helped me foster and strengthen my own artistic voice,” Adamshick said. “His repeated stress on the idea of individuality and unique expression helped me discover a whole new level of self-awareness and self-confidence.”

Perhaps his most important gift to the art form is that he did not teach his students to play like him, but, rather, encouraged each of them to discover their own voice. “There are many people who imitate their teacher,” he said. “I hate the idea that there’s someone in the world who sounds like a little Aldo Parisot. You’ve got to be yourself. We’ve all got to find our own way.”

Aldo Parisot, the Cellist: The Importance of the Circle, a biography written by Susan Hawkshaw, was published in 2018 by Pendragon Press.

VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE SEPTEMBER 30 RETIREMENT EVENT

 

Published July 19, 2018
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YSM Student News | April 2018

The Bonus Quartet

Composer Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’21 DMA had his piece And Flowers Showered, an immersive concert-length work, premiered by the New York City-based ensemble Contemporaneous at National Sawdust in February.

The Bonus Quartet, an ensemble of YSM trombonists, was named a semifinalist in the Senior Winds category at the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. The quartet, which includes Zachary Haas ’18MM, Grant Futch ’18MMA, Hillary Simms ’18MM, and Wil Wortley ’18MM, will compete in the finals in Ann Arbor in May.

Violinist Ariel Horowitz ’19MM was awarded second prize in the age 18-21 category at the 2018 International Arthur Grumiaux Competition for Young Violinists in Brussels, Belgium. Horowitz also received the prize for Best Interpretation of a Work by Belgian Composer.

Clarinetist Graeme Johnson ’18MMA won first prize at the Hellam Young Artists’ Competition in Springfield, Mo. Johnson was awarded a monetary prize and will perform the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in January 2019.

Composer Aaron Israel Levin ’19MM had his sextet Springbokkie selected for the Society of Composers Inc.’s 2018 National Conference. It was performed at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wa., in March.

Pianist Szymon Nehring ’19AD received the International Classical Music Awards’ Outstanding Young Polish Artist award. Each year, the ICMA honors exceptional artists and recordings that are selected by an international jury of music critics.

Cellist Justin Park ’18MM won first prize at the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra’s 59th Annual Instrumental Competition. Park will be featured as a guest soloist with the orchestra in the 2018-2019 season.

Congratulations to these and all of our outstanding students.

Published April 16, 2018
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YSM alumni take home Grammy Awards

The National’s “Sleep Well Beast”

Several Yale School of Music alumni won Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 28. Please join us in congratulating the following musicians on this exciting accomplishment.

Guitarist Bryce Dessner ’99MM won as a member of The National, whose album Sleep Well Beast won in the “Best Alternative Music Album” category.

Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom ’77MM earned an award as a surround producer in the “Best Surround Sound Album” category for her Early Americans.

Violinists Irene Cheng ’94MM and Louis Lev ’90MM and trombonist Rebecca Cherian ’81MM won as members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the “Best Orchestral Performance” category for the ensemble’s recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Barber’s Adagio for Strings. For that recording, which was engineered by Mark Donahue, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra also won in the “Best Engineered Album, Classical” category.

Violinists Maureen Nelson ’00MM and Kayla Moffett ’13MM and cellist Joshua Koestenbaum ’80MM won as members of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in the “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” category for the ensemble’s Death and the Maiden album, which features music by Dowland, Gesualdo, Kurtág, Normiger, and Schubert.

Published January 29, 2018
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Rolston String Quartet named YSM’s new fellowship quartet-in-residence

Rolston String Quartet | Photo by Tianxiao Zhang Photography

The Rolston String Quartet ’16Norfolk has been named the new fellowship quartet-in-residence at the Yale School of Music. The group, whose previous residencies include the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in the summer of 2016, will begin their tenure at YSM this fall. While at Yale, the quartet will work closely with the Brentano String Quartet — YSM’s quartet-in-residence — perform recitals, and participate in education-outreach programs.

“The Rolston String Quartet is very eager to come to New Haven as the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence,” the group said in a statement. “We are incredibly optimistic about the possibilities for development and growth provided by Yale’s stimulating environment. We can’t wait to meet the Yale students and faculty who will illuminate and influence this new experience. Working closely with the Brentano Quartet is a dream come true. They are endlessly generous and inspiring people whose artistic spirits are to be admired. We look forward to deepening our musical understandings, refining our interpretations, and benefiting from their extensive professional experience.

“We will be so lucky to be able to coach chamber ensembles made up of Yale (undergraduate) students; this opportunity is a rare one that will yield immense insight into the complexities of teaching music. The fellowship program at Yale will aid our growth as we cultivate an ensemble that reflects the values of community, the highest levels of artistic and academic excellence, and the important traditions of chamber music,” the group said.

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Published May 16, 2017
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Argus Quartet wins Senior Strings division of M-Prize competition

The Argus Quartet, left to right: cellist Jo Whang ’09MM, violist Dana Kelley, violinist Jason Issokson, and violinist Clara Kim

The Argus Quartet, YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, has been named the first place winner in the Senior Strings division of the University of Michigan’s M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition. In addition to a cash prize of $20,000, the quartet will return to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance for a residency during the 2017-18 academic year.

Now in its second year, the M-Prize seeks “to identify and showcase the highest caliber of international chamber arts ensembles,” according to the competition’s website. In addition to distributing more than $200,000 of cash prizes (an increase from last year) the M-Prize provides competition winners with platforms for professional development and performance opportunities.

This year, 29 applicants were selected to compete as semifinalists for the grand prize in Michigan. The ensembles, which are made up of 112 artists from seven countries, were selected from an pool of more than 100 ensembles representing 41 countries. In addition to increased prize coffers, this year’s competition featured an interview round during which each of the senior division winners (strings, winds, and other) were asked to advocate on behalf of their ensemble’s repertoire and program plan.

Having been praised by the Calgary Herald for its “supreme melodic control and total authority,” the Argus Quartet is quickly gaining a reputation as one of today’s most dynamic and versatile young ensembles.

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Published May 10, 2017
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Argus Quartet welcomes new member

The Argus Quartet, left to right: Joann Whang, Dana Kelley, Jason Issokson, and Clara Kim

The Argus Quartet, left to right: Joann Whang, Dana Kelley, Jason Issokson, and Clara Kim

The Argus Quartet, the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, has welcomed a new member, violist Dana Kelley, to the ensemble. “Dana is a truly dynamic performer with an inquisitive spirit, and we are deeply impressed by her musicianship and her personality,” the quartet said in a statement. “We are growing to admire her more and more every day, and it’s already clear that she’s going to put a major imprint on our quartet’s artistic voice and vision. We look forward to many years of working together, and we can’t wait to share her music-making with audiences at Yale and beyond.” Kelley joins violinists Clara Kim and Jason Issokson and cellist Joann Whang ’09MM in the quartet. MORE

Published January 19, 2017
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Rolston String Quartet wins Banff International String Quartet Competition

Rolston String Quartet | Photo by Tianxiao Zhang Photography

Rolston String Quartet | Photo by Tianxiao Zhang Photography

The Rolston String Quartet (’16 Norfolk) has been named the First Prize Laureate of the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition, which concluded after five rounds on Saturday, September 4. “In addition to a generous cash prize of $25,000,” the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity announced, “the Rolston String Quartet will benefit from a comprehensive custom-designed three-year career development program including a professional recording at Banff Centre and a performance tour in over 50 North American and European cities.” The ensemble also won the Esterházy Foundation Prize and the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance Prize.

“This young quartet now has the opportunity to share their artistry with the world,” Barry Shiffman, the competition’s executive director, was quoted as saying.

The Tesla Quartet, whose members—including violist Edward Kaplan ’10MM ’11AD—attended Norfolk in 2011, earned Second Prize at the BISQC, receiving a $12,000 award. The Tesla Quartet also won the R.S. Williams & Sons Haydn Prize and the Canadian Commission Prize, each of which came with a $3,000 award. MORE

Published September 6, 2016
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