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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“Observe the Fermata”: Dean Blocker’s address to the Class of 2012

Photo by Richard LaPlante.

The Yale School of Music held its Commencement exercises on Monday, May 21, 2012 in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall. Here is the text of Dean Robert Blocker’s address to the Class of 2012.

In his epic poem THE FOUR QUARTETS, T.S. Elliot offers this revelation:

What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we often start from.

For many of us, the introduction of the fermata to our musical vocabulary and skill marked our passage from the mathematical exactness of notation to a discretionary choice. As a seven-year old, I was fascinated with this new freedom – much more so than my teacher thought necessary or amusing. Fortunately, she was endowed with extraordinary patience. Her words still echo in my mind: “Linger, Robert, don’t hurry, think about the next phrase. Take time, observe the fermata.” MORE

Published May 23, 2012
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