Yale Philharmonia to perform music by student composers

The Yale Philharmonia, in rehearsal.

On Dec. 6, guest conductor and YSM alumnus Julian Pellicano ’07MM ’09MM will lead the Yale Philharmonia in a program of new orchestral music by the School’s student composers. As part of the New Music New Haven series, New Music for Orchestra is an annual occurrence, but each performance is distinctly different and offers audiences the opportunity to see brand-new works by YSM’s innovative and talented composition students.

Every year the concert features the orchestral works of different student composers, each of whom has a unique musical style. Tanner Porter ’19MM, whose work Here Comes the Rain will be performed on Dec. 6, said, “One of the things that makes the Yale composition department so particularly wonderful is the fact that everyone is working in largely different sound worlds. While musical tastes and interests overlap, the ways in which we internalize our influences and create from our experiences renders totally diverse works. Our many compositional styles are sure to give this concert a fantastic array of soundscapes to experience.”

New Music for Orchestra presents an exciting program to its audience, but it also provides YSM’s composition students an invaluable learning tool by enabling them to work closely with an orchestra throughout the rehearsal process. “The only way to learn orchestration is to hear your own work,” faculty composer and New Music New Haven Artistic Director Hannah Lash has said. “You can study scores all you want, but there’s nothing like having that hands-on experience.”

There is also something very special about having music performed by an orchestra of one’s peers, in this case the Yale Philharmonia. Ryan Lindveit ’19MM, who will present his piece Pray Away on the concert, said, “I love working with musicians who are around my age, because they are more likely to understand the particular set of cultural circumstances that led to my creating the music on their stands.” About his piece, Lindveit said, “Taking for granted my deeply held belief that music can be a vehicle for emotional transformation, Pray Away is a musical metaphor for unpeeling layers of personal shame to find authenticity.”

The concert on Dec. 6 will feature works by Porter, Lindveit, Aaron Levin, Grant Luhmann, Frances Pollock, Anteo Fabris, and Nate May. Asked about the importance of presenting new music in live performance settings, Porter said, “In my experience, the orchestra is one of the most powerful engines a listener can inhabit. Many of my most meaningful musical memories are from live concerts, where I witnessed the music I’d loved in recordings take shape as it reverberated through the space. But there’s nothing like falling in love with a new piece as you hear it for the first time, and in an orchestra hall—where you can not only listen to but sit inside of and feel the music as it forms.”

Guest conductor and YSM alumnus Julian Pellicano ’07MM ’09MM leads the Yale Philharmonia in a program of new orchestral music by the School’s student composers on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m., in Woolsey Hall. This New Music for Orchestra program, presented by New Music New Haven, is free and open to the public.

Published November 30, 2018
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Ascendant composers prepare new works for Yale Philharmonia performance

Left to right: Alishan Gezgin, Krists Auznieks, Eli Greenhoe, Fjola Evans, Liliya Ugay

On Thursday, Dec. 7, conducting fellow David Yi will lead the Yale Philharmonia in a program of new orchestral works by several of YSM’s graduate-student composers. We spoke recently with composers Alishan Gezgin (The Passage), Krists Auznieks (Grace), Eli Greenhoe (Wrest), Fjola Evans (Lung), and Liliya Ugay (To the Lost World) about composing and preparing their pieces for performance.

Q: What does it mean to you that the orchestra performing your piece is an ensemble of your peers? 

Gezgin: For me, being a composer is most meaningful when I can connect sounds and ideas to real human beings I know and care about. It’s a gift, how deeply embedded this piece feels in the Yale community. Everything in the piece emerges from my time here, the conversations and experiences I’ve shared with friends and teachers, and the countless new ideas those exchanges have brought me.

Auznieks: It is always a pleasure working with people who share your life experience; they are the ones who are most likely to understand the cultural context of where the piece is coming from, and in that sense they are also the best judges of the music.

Greenhoe: I already feel so lucky to have the opportunity to attend YSM and study among friends and colleagues who are some of the finest musicians I know of. To have the opportunity to write a piece specifically for them to play, and knowing the profound depth of musicality among the student body here, is a rare opportunity and (to borrow a cliché) a total dream-come-true.

Evans: I’m really excited to have written this piece for an orchestra of my classmates. Getting to attend the Yale Philharmonia concerts in Woolsey Hall while writing my piece was great. It’s rare that you get to see the ensemble you are writing for perform in the same hall your piece will be premiered — being there helped me to viscerally imagine what I wanted my piece to sound and feel like.

Ugay: It means that the musicians of the orchestra are able to connect to my music in a personal way, as many of them know me as a person and/or have already worked with me/played my music before. It deepens the mutual understanding and eases communication between the orchestra and the composer, something a composer can (usually) achieve only by working with one orchestra for years. MORE

Published November 30, 2017
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Inside YSM: Krists Auznieks, composer

Krists Auznieks

Meet composer and DMA candidate Krists Auznieks ’16MM, who spoke to us recently about what drew him to the Yale School of Music.

“I wanted to study at YSM firstly because of the faculty,” he said. “I highly value their diversity, and the prospect of being able to study with all of them was one of my main motivations. The relatively small size of the composition department means that it really is a community. We know one another’s music and we get to hear it at various points in its development. It is absolutely fascinating to see your peers grow and develop. It teaches one not only about musical development within a single piece of music, it reveals larger patterns behind the path of a young composer. It helps to see how regardless of the variety of aesthetic camps present on a single campus there are fundamental commonalties that our paths share, both humanly and musically. The composition department is a miracle within a miracle. The sheer talent that I am surrounded by is truly humbling. We see one another in the composition seminar every Thursday but you read about all of them in The New York Times or see them on TV over the weekend. That’s how high Yale composers’ presence is in the ‘real world.’ This is not an isolated department. Rather, it is constantly engaged with the world, with other spheres of human activity, with other arts and artists.”

Auznieks has also tapped into the vast resources the wider University has to offer.

“My opera ‘NeoArctic,’ which was premiered couple of months ago at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen, talks about the Anthropocene and climate change, and I would not have been able to go into such depth if I did not have the resources that Yale could provide: countless talks given on the campus on the topic, availability of the specialists in the field — these were the resources that allowed me to attain the depth of knowledge that was necessary for the production of such a complex work,” Auznieks said. “Another work that grew directly out of my studies at Yale is the project that I am currently doing with the Contemporaneous ensemble in New York. It involves texts from philosophy and East Asian religions that tackle concepts of the self and nothingness and these ideas grew directly out of the corresponding courses that I took at Yale.”

Auznieks’ “Light Stills” will be performed on an April 13 New Music New Haven concert featuring music by YSM faculty composer David Lang and graduate-student composers.

(Photo by Girts Ragelis)

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Published March 24, 2017
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Augusta Read Thomas to launch Ear Taxi Festival

Augusta Read Thomas | Photo by Anthony Barlich

Conceived in 2013 by composer Augusta Read Thomas MM, the inaugural Ear Taxi Festival, scheduled to take place October 5-10, will celebrate Chicago’s flourishing and dynamic contemporary music scene with concerts, lectures, sound installations, webcasts, and artist receptions.

“The open collaborative nature of Chicago’s new music community is home to an extraordinary crop of ensembles and a vibrant landscape of composers,” Thomas has said. “The scene for new music in Chicago is exceptional and I dedicate myself to supporting and encouraging its sustainability and growth.” MORE

Published August 26, 2016
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[ students & alumni ]

YSM composers highlighted in Albany Symphony’s American Music Festival

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Aaron Jay Kernis

The Yale School of Music is playing a significant role in the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s American Music Festival. This year’s festival, “Songs of the Rolling Earth,” features a slew of YSM faculty, students, and alumni, including Aaron Jay Kernis, Loren Loiacono ’12 MM, composers collective Sleeping Giant, and all 13 graduate students in the YSM composition studio.

On June 11, the orchestra will perform Simple Songs by YSM composition faculty member Aaron Jay Kernis. A mystical work for soprano and chamber orchestra, Simple Songs sets the texts of famed composer Hildegard von Bingen, Japanese writer Ryokan, and Rumi. The concert will also feature the world premiere of Loren Loiacono‘s Sleeping Furiously. MORE

Published June 7, 2016
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[ student & alumni ]

Composer Zachary Wadsworth ’07 MM releases new album

wadsworth-zach-webComposer Zachary Wadsworth ’07 MM has released a new album of music entitled “The Far West.” The recording was conducted by Timothy Shantz, and performed by tenor Lawrence Wilford with Luminous Voices, a professional chamber choir based in Calgary, Alberta.
The album’s central work, which also lends the album its title, sets the text of Tim Diugos, a poet who died of AIDS in 1990 while studying at the Yale Divinity School.  The cantata explores the defiance of a poet who chose to live with lightness and dignity in the face of plague and loss. MORE

Published May 25, 2016
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[ students & alumni ]

Hilary Purrington wins Melodia Women’s Choir Competition

Hilary-Purrington-213x300The Melodia Women’s Choir of New York named Hilary Purrington ’17 MMA this year’s winner of their Women Composers Commission Competition. Purlington, a composer and vocalist, has composed a work entitled Cassandra, scored for choir, percussion, and piano. The work is inspired by the priestess Cassandra, the beautiful and tragic figure from Greek mythology who is bestowed the gift of prophecy.

“As a female composer writing for a women’s choir, I found it fitting to create a work that tells a story about an extraordinary woman,” Purrington writes. “Cassandra was one of the most beautiful women in the world, a priestess with the gift of prophecy, but cursed by Apollo for refusing him so that no one believed her wisdom. I like to imagine her as formidably intelligent and outspoken, an extraordinary woman, millennia ahead of her time.”

Melodia will perform on May 14, 2016 on their upcoming program “Cassandra: Myths and Stories in Song. The concert will take place at West End Collegiate Church in New York City.

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Published May 11, 2016
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[ concerts ]

New Music New Haven features Kernis and Lang

LangKernis

David Lang, Aaron Jay Kernis

The New Music New Haven concert series at the Yale School of Music continues on Thursday, April 14 at 7:30pm, with the music of faculty members Aaron Jay Kernis and David Lang, along with new works by graduate student composers. MORE

Published April 6, 2016
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[ students & alumni ]

American Academy of Arts and Letters recognizes YSM composers

Hannah Lash

Hannah Lash

The American Academy of Arts and Letters recently announced the seventeen recipients of this year’s awards in music, which total $205,000. The winners were selected by a committee of Academy members: Yehudi Wyner (chairman), Martin Boykan, Martin Bresnick, Mario Davidovsky, Stephen Hartke, Stephen Jaffe, and Tobias Picker. The awards will be presented at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial in May. Candidates for music awards are nominated by the 250 members of the Academy.

YSM faculty member Hannah Lash ’12 AD was one of two winners of the Charles Ives Fellowship. Lash, who is also a 2012 alumnus of the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, will receive a $15,000 Fellowship was established when Harmony Ives, the widow of Charles Ives, bequeathed to the Academy the royalties of Charles Ives’s music, which has empowered the Academy to give Ives awards in composition since 1970.

Current students Dylan Mattingly ’17 MM and Liliya Ugay ’17 MM were also recognized, as recipients of the Charles Ives Scholarships of $7500, given to composition students of great promise.

In addition, the Lakond Award in music composition was awarded to Chia-Yu Hsu ’02 MM. The award of $10,000 was established through a bequest from Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond. MORE

Published March 10, 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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