Convocation 2017 defines YSM as place for “Music Among Friends”

School of Music Dean Robert Blocker often describes music as “the currency of hope” and has long championed the School’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. That commitment was reiterated emphatically on Thursday night in his 2017 Convocation speech, “Music Among Friends,” in which he celebrated “courage, inclusivity and diversity, connectedness, tolerance and respect, and compassion.” Upon its founding, he said, “the School of Music opened wide its doors and heart to all those who brought their gifts of talent and intellectual curiosity to campus.” Today, Blocker pointed out, the School stands in solidarity with those whose place in our community hangs in the balance.

“All of us bring anxieties, concerns, and even fears about the human condition to this room tonight,” he told new and returning students, faculty, staff, alumni, and guests, “for we live in a time in which human dignity and indeed humanity are being assaulted throughout the world. Nothing, I think, is as incomprehensible and unimaginable as the vengeful rescindment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA. Now, these young people we call Dreamers live with fear rather than hope. This action touches our community profoundly because we are witnesses to the deep grief and stressful uncertainty these Dreamers and their families suddenly face. I do believe reasonable and compassionate leaders among us hear and feel the anguished cries of Dreamers and that they, with our encouragement and support, will find a way to keep their American dream alive.”

Connecting YSM’s values to its mission, Blocker said, “music teaches us that every voice is distinct and important, that each is necessary for harmony, and that is precisely why we know that our combined voices will help repair our troubled world.”

Following University Provost Benjamin Polak’s installation of the incoming class, whose members come from five continents, 25 countries, 26 states, and 58 institutions, Convocation attendees sang Schubert’s An die Musik (with Franz von Schober’s text, as translated by YSM faculty bass-baritone Richard Cross), as is School tradition. Blocker then delivered his remarks before introducing the faculty, alumni, and current students who performed as part of the ceremony.

Violinist Daniel S. Lee ’06MM ’08AD, a newly appointed faculty member in early music whose ensemble, The Sebastians, is in residence at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, performed Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Sonata No. 3 in F major, C. 140 (from Sonatae, violino solo) with faculty harpsichordist Arthur Haas. Bass-baritone Dashon Burton ’11MM sang “Grosser Herr, o starker König,” from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, and “Mache dich, mein Herze rein,” from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, with pianist David Fung ’11MM ’13MMA ’17DMA. And violinist Sirena Huang ’19AD performed Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34, with pianist Lam Wong ’18MM.

The performances added punctuation to Blocker’s remarks, which concluded with him telling members of the incoming class that “here at YSM, you will experience fully the gift that is ‘Music Among Friends,’ and encouraging all in attendance, referencing a favorite story about Robert Louis Stevenson, to “take hope, and make holes in the dark with the beauty and light of your music.”

Photos by Harold Shapiro

Published September 8, 2017
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Collection presents Smithsonian Chamber Players April 10

Smithsonian_piano_trioThe Yale Collection of Musical Instruments presents the Smithsonian Chamber Players on Sunday, April 10 at 3pm.

The Smithsonian Chamber Players will perform an All-Beethoven Program including the Violin Sonata in F major, Op. 24, “Spring” and the Septet in E-flat Major, Op. 20. The ensemble will include Vera Beths, violin; and Kenneth Slowik, piano in the Violin Sonata, joined by Nicholas Cords, viola; Robert Nairn, double bass; Charles Neidich, clarinet; Dominic Teresi, bassoon; as well as the director of the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments and YSM faculty member William Purvis, horn for the Septet. MORE

Published April 9, 2016
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[ collection ]

A Gift to YCMI: The Paul A. Munier Collection of Military Snare Drumsticks

military-drumsticksThe Collection of Musical Instruments recently announced the acquisition of an important collection of twentieth-century military drumsticks. This gift, donated by Paul A. Munier of Haverill, Mass., comprises 60 pairs made in a variety of materials, lengths, and tip shapes. Highlights include hand-turned pairs of rosewood, ebony, cocobolo, persimmon, zebra wood, and solid steel.

The solid steel pair of sticks pictured below was used for practice on a rubber pad by F.G. Holt, a snare drummer who played in the band of John Philip Sousa. Other pairs of Mr. Munier’s collection were owned by champion drummers P.F. Mietzner, the “Poet Drummer of Connecticut,” and A.B. Smith, the “Farmer Drummer of Connecticut.” MORE

Published July 13, 2015
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[ in the press ]

Yale Alumni Magazine: Celebrity harpsichord?

ycmi-harpsichordYale Alumni Magazine | Mar/Apr 1015

Some time in the late nineteenth century, an unknown antiques dealer decided that this harpsichord wasn’t glamorous enough. It’s a rare 1770 instrument by Pascal Taskin, harpsichord maker to King Louis XV and head of the most admired workshop in the history of French harpsichords. Nevertheless, it got a makeover. Taskin’s name was allowed to remain on it—but “Restored by Taskin” was added, to suggest an earlier maker. Paintings were incorporated to imply that it once belonged to Émilie du Châtelet (1706–49), an important French scholar and Voltaire’s mistress from 1733 to 1740. The woman seen here on the inside of the lid is meant to resemble her, and the chateau to her right is Cirey, where she lived with Voltaire. MORE

Published May 20, 2015
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[ concerts ]

“Refreshing” El Mundo Ensemble performs at Collection April 12

el mundoThe Yale School of Music and Collection of Musical Instruments presents the El Mundo Ensemble at the Collection of Musical Instruments on Sunday, April 12 at 3:00pm.

The ensemble, led by artistic director Richard Savino, will present a program of music focusing on the Spanish Baroque. “El Mundo plays with a refreshing lack of rigidity or dogmatism,” says the New York Times, and Savino is a baroque guitarist hailed as “a player of high technique and sensitivity to style” (Gramophone).

The program includes selections by Antonio de Salazar, Rafael Castellano, Santiago de Murcia, and Sebastian Duron, among others. MORE

Published March 30, 2015
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[ concerts ]

Gold and Glitter: Aulos Ensemble presents music from Venice and Versailles Feb. 22

aulos_webThe Yale Collection of Musical Instruments presents the Aulos Ensemble on Sunday, February 22 at 3:00 pm. The acclaimed ensemble will present a program called Gold and Glitter: Music from Venice and Versailles.

Founded in 1973, The Aulos Ensemble was one of the first American “original instrument” ensembles. Its accomplishments over the past four decades have given it preeminence in the early music movement. Early Music America said of a recent Rameau recording, “The performers exhibit a masterfully controlled sense of ensemble throughout, and their precisely articulated delivery breathes with Rameau’s subtly dramatic phrasal undulations. The effect is exquisite.”

The members of the ensemble include harpsichordist Arthur Haas, a member of the YSM faculty, as well as Linda Quan, violin; Christopher Krueger, flute; Marc Schachman, oboe; and Myron Lutzke, cello. MORE

Published February 16, 2015
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Four Nations Ensemble performs at the Collection Jan. 25

FourNations-webThe Collection of Musical Instruements at the Yale School of Music presents the Four Nations Ensemble on Sunday, January 25 at 3:00 pm.

Many Baroque composers traveled throughout Europe seeking patronage, education, and for holiday. These cultural exchanges allowed composers to wear different musical hats, i.e., to be German and compose in decidedly French or Italian styles. This concert will celebrate the virtuosity of these composers, including Telemann, Leclair, Geminiani, Handel, and more. MORE

Published January 16, 2015
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“Back to the Future”: Music of 17th-century Italy and Germany featured in Nov. 16 concert

Photo by Johna Friends

Photo by Johna Friends

On Sunday, November 16, 2014, the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments presents a program called Back to the Future: Music of 17th-century Italy and Germany. The concert features the trio of John Holloway, violin; Jane Gower, dulcian; and Lars Ulrik Mortensen, harpsichord.

The dulcian is a Renaissance woodwind instrument with a double reed, similar to the modern bassoon.

The program includes passionate sonatas, toccatas, and dances from the dawn of the baroque and even earlier. Composers featured on the program include Boedecker, Buchner, Castello, Fontana, Froberger, Matteis, Rosenmuller, Rossi, Schmelzer, and Selma y Salvarde. MORE

Published November 12, 2014
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[ general ]

School of Music announces completion of its trio of websites

The Yale School of Music proudly announces the completion of its suite of websites, with the August launch of new sites for the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments ( and Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (

collection-website-screenshotThe Collection and Norfolk sites, along with the Yale School of Music’s website ( launched one year ago, were created by a broad partnership that included School of Music staff members, the Yale Digital Collections Center, and Madison Mott.

The School of Music’s website has won two W3 silver awards and a silver award from the Connecticut Art Director’s Club. The site was also nominated for a Webby Award in the School/University category. MORE

Published November 3, 2014
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[ concerts ]

Martin Bruns sings Schumann and more with fortepianist Christoph Hammer Oct. 5

Martin Bruhns

Martin Bruhns

The Yale School of Music presents a Liederabend (evening of art song) on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm. Swiss baritone Martin Bruns will be joined by Christoph Hammer at the fortepiano. The two will perform Schumann’s song cycle Liederkreis and selected songs by Schubert, Lachner, and Liszt.

Martin Bruns performs in a wide range of styles from Baroque to Mozart, Mahler to the contemporary—but he spends much of his time studying and performing 19th-century Lieder. The Münichner Merkur says, “there is nothing that this voice cannot do.” Opera News notes: “Martin Bruns is hardly a household name, but maybe he should be. His disc of Schubert’s Schiller-Lieder easily rivals lieder recitals recorded by much more established artists.”  MORE

Published September 11, 2014
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