YSM composer presents “Stinney: An American Execution” in New York

Baltimore premiere of Stinney: An American Execution. Photo by Will Kirk, Homewood Photography

While pursuing degrees and performing at the Yale School of Music, students also actively engage in collaborations outside of Yale, and work to affect change in their communities and beyond. YSM composer Frances Pollock ’19MM has worked in conjunction with the Prototype Festival, French Institute Alliance Française, and Harlem Stage to present the opera Stinney: An American Execution, for which she wrote the score and co-wrote the libretto. Stinney was originally premiered in Baltimore in 2015, where Pollock earned a master’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory. Speaking about the premiere, Pollock said, “Part of our audience came to the show because of their profound dedication to new music. The other part came out of a profound dedication to the fight for human rights. I caught my first glimpse of how art can be a powerful unifier in a moment when there doesn’t seem to be a way to move forward.” Hailed by the Baltimore Sun as a “bold, bracing opera that pulls no punches and never flinches,” Stinney will be performed this weekend at Flourence Gould Hall in New York City.

Stinney tells the story of George Junius Stinney Jr., who was executed at age 14 for a crime he didn’t commit. According to the Prototype Festival website, “Having been wrongly accused and convicted of the rape and murder of two white girls in Alcolu, SC, in 1944, George became the youngest person legally executed in 20th-century America. Stinney tells the story of George, his family, his community, and the jury of ten white men that sent an innocent black boy to the electric chair. A new opera with roots in both gospel and electronic techniques, Stinney: An American Execution spotlights the anger and agony of the entire populous of Alcolu, connecting the dots to our own socio-political climate in 2019 and the pervasive ‘fear of the other.’”

We recently spoke with Pollock and the production’s music director, Alex Blake, about the opera and its importance in today’s world.

Q. What do you think is the role of an artist in tackling issues of racism and oppression? 

Blake: I feel like art should reflect the times that we are in and should reflect the struggles of a people. Art allows artists to reach people, a way to present difficult topics, and a way for audiences to enter into a conversation without feeling defensive or feeling like they have to respond to a topic in the moment. We tell stories and we open up dialogue in an emotional sense that push beyond the academic or intellectual spaces.

Pollock: The thing that I’m most interested in right now is challenging the systems in which art is created. In telling charged stories, we as artists must be aware of our limited perspective and make sure we are working with collaborators who will challenge that perspective in the creative process. For this project, it was crucial to decentralize the role of the composer and focus on establishing a team that is invested in crafting the story. For me personally, being in touch with the Stinney family and including them at every step was the only way to make sure that we were telling the story in a way that truly listened.

We are also trying out a new model for royalties on this opera. As the opera goes on, most of the royalties will go directly to the Stinney family. The cast and creative team will also continue to receive collaborative royalties as the show progresses. This model ensures that the team is recognized for role in the creative process even as the show goes forward.

Q. Why is this opera important? Do you think it is particularly important now, in our current social and political climate? 

Blake: This opera is extremely important. We have seen more and more cases of the struggles and interactions between police and people of color, including Black children. From a socio-political sense this piece definitely brings up questions that we need to respond to as a population in these times right now.

Musically, this opera is important because it involves a story of a community that rarely feels represented in classical music and more specifically in opera. To hear the story of someone in the community and to see members of that community represented on stage is an experience that has not been offered to people of color, and that representation is essential when we talk about the relevance of opera to an American populous.

The status quo for opera is dominated by heteronormative caucasian stories told from a singular perspective. This story about this African American boy and the American systems that have been detrimental to the success and progression of marginalized populations are beautifully represented in Stinney.

Pollock: I totally agree with Alex. It’s also important to challenge the spaces of western art music—spaces that are still predominantly white and predominantly wealthy. There is nothing wrong with canonic repertoire itself nor the audiences that attend these performances, but often these spaces pride themselves on being elite. Elitism often leads to exclusion, and the history of elitism in opera manifests in whole communities being excluded from classical music spaces.

Q. What led you to begin this project? 

Blake: Frances Pollock called me and told me about this opportunity to perform Stinney in New York. I had already read about the first run-through and was both elated and horrified to be asked to be a part of it—you see, this is my first experience conducing an opera, and I remember asking if she was sure that I would be a good fit. I’m very honored and excited to be a part of telling this story.

Pollock: I have been interested in the conversation that surrounds race relations in the South since I was in high school. In college, I spent a little while working with the Innocence Project in North Carolina and became profoundly aware of systemic racism in the prison system. When I moved to Baltimore and began teaching in the public schools, I was faced with the reality that many of my students lived with daily—that low-income communities of color were chronically under-supported and over policed, which perpetuated the cycle of the school-to-prison pipeline. At the same time, I was confronted with the status quo of classical music training, training that felt wholly unaware of the social injustices that were taking place right outside the ivory walls of the conservatory. (Co-librettist) Tia [Price] and I started writing Stinney to start having a conversation with our colleagues.

Stinney: An American Execution will be performed on January 12, at 5 p.m., and January 13, at 3 p.m, with tickets starting at $30. On January 10, at 7:30 p.m., co-presenter Harlem Stage will host a moderated panel discussion, Democratic Ideals and Racism: An Examination of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline, on the creative responses of artists as they witness, experience, and analyze the collective trauma of being Black in America. The discussion will feature members of the creative team of Stinney, and tickets start at $5.

Published January 10, 2019
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Members of YSM community earn Grammy nominations

Missy Mazzoli. Photo by Marylene Mey

Grammy Award nominations were announced on Friday, Dec. 7, and several members of the Yale School of Music community made the list. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding musicians.

Composer Missy Mazzoli ’06MM was nominated in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category for her work Vespers for Violin, performed by Olivia de Prato. In the same category, faculty composer Aaron Jay Kernis ’83MM received a nomination for his Violin Concerto, performed by violinist James Ehnes, conductor Ludovic Morlot, and the Seattle Symphony.

Yale Philharmonia Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian was nominated in the Best Classical Compendium category for Vaughan Williams: Piano Concerto, Oboe Concerto, Serenade to Music, Flos Campi, on which he conducted. The recording was produced by Blanton Alspaugh.

Conductor Martin Pearlman ’71MM was nominated in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo Category for Biber: The Mystery Sonatas, on which he conducted. The recording features violinist Christina Day Martinson and Boston Baroque.

Composer John Adams ’MUSHD received a nomination in the Best Opera Recording category for Adams: Dr. Atomic.

The Boston-based chamber orchestra A Far Cry, which includes alumni violinists Liesl Schoenberger Doty ’11AD and Miki-Sophia Cloud ’08MM, was nominated in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category for Visions and Variations.

In the Best Orchestral Performance category, three nominations have ties to YSM. The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s recording Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 11, conducted by Andris Nelsons, includes alumni violinist Sheila Fiekowsky ’75MM and cellist Owen Young ’87MM. The San Francisco Symphony’s recording Schumann: Symphonies Nos. 1-4, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, includes alumni violinists Gina Cooper ’87MM and John Young ’MM. And the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s recording Beethoven: Symphony No. 3; Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1, conducted by Manfred Honeck, includes alumni violinists Irene Cheng ’94MM and Louis Lev ’90MM and alumni trombonist Rebecca Cherian ’81MM.

Published December 10, 2018
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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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YSM Alumni News | November 2018

Molly Joyce. Photo by Nadine Sherman

Flutist Amanda Baker ’00MM returned to Yale in April 2018 to become Senior Associate Director for Young Alumni for the Yale Alumni Fund. She was also a guest lecturer this spring at the University of Hartford, where she taught “Entrepreneurship in the Arts,” and continues to teach flute at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Double Bassist Mark Elliot Bergman ’97MM received a Performing Arts Fellowship in Music from the Wyoming Arts Council, one of four recipients in the state. Bergman’s winning original compositions include Ondine, The Temple, and Shenandoah Suite, a string trio commemorating the 75th anniversary of the founding of Shenandoah National Park.

Violist Emily Grace Brandenburg ’17MMA was named Administrative Assistant at the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. MORE

Published November 7, 2018
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Miki Sawada ’14AD brings music to rural audiences

Miki Sawada

Political divisions have had many musicians thinking about the artist’s role in society. “As a musician, what is the way forward?” pianist and YSM alumna Miki Sawada ’14AD began asking herself two years ago. “Playing piano like I’d always played piano was no longer an option.”

Sawada, an accomplished concert performer and music educator, decided that the way forward was to use the piano as an instrument of healing, a gathering place where people of all backgrounds could enjoy music together. The way forward was to bring performances to people who may not ordinarily have access to them. In August 2017, Sawada launched the Gather Hear project, which involved, to begin, touring Alaska for three weeks in a van with a piano and a filmmaker, documenting the journey and giving a total of 25 performances in the cafés, bars, parks, and schools of largely rural communities. Eventually, Sawada intends to tour all 50 states.

“Alaska has an almost mythical quality,” Sawada said. The state’s vastness and the sparseness of its communities appealed to Sawada, and the close-knit nature of people in rural areas allowed her to find collaborators. In addition to her own solo playing and engaging with audiences, Sawada connected with a young local musician at each venue. She ended up performing with students of all levels, from beginner violinists to high school pianists.

Booked into unorthodox and often noisy venues, Sawada’s biggest fear before embarking on the tour was that no one would want to sit quietly and listen. “The night before I left, I got cold feet,” she said. She thought, “What if no one wants to hear me?” But her experience was quite the opposite. “There was total silence,” she said, noting “a change in the room” when she began to play, wherever she was.

While the Gather Hear Tour was sparked primarily by a desire to connect with diverse audiences, Sawada had long been interested in taking classical music beyond the confines of the concert hall. “I always envied my friends who could take their instruments and perform in pop-up concerts,” she explained. While taking a piano on tour requires some extra labor, Sawada has shown that it can be done. The instrument with which she toured Alaska is a hybrid keyboard with no strings to tune, equipped with its own amplification. However more difficult the instrument is to transport than a flute, the piano is a necessary, central focus of the project — a gathering place where people are encouraged to stop and listen, and to participate in the music-making.

Following the Alaskan tour, Sawada turned her attention to West Virginia, where Gather Hear performances featured a new work by composer and fellow YSM alumnus Brendon Randall-Myers ’14MM, a West Virginia native. Randall-Myers’ new work, A Kind of Mirror, combines classical repertoire with original music. Created to reflect the mission of the Gather Hear project, A Kind of Mirror calls for audience participation, with theatrical prompts shaped with the help of director Daniel Pettrow. At one point, an audience member is asked to make tea on stage, and the ending of the performance involves a large amount of bubble wrap.

While performances of A Kind of Mirror are somewhat structured, there is room for collaboration. “The show is built in a way so that piano players in the audience could potentially, spontaneously take the stage,” Sawada said, “or if I meet a classical musician in town when I arrive at a tour stop, I could work a collaborative performance with them into the show.”

Sawada seems flexible when it comes to life on the road, which she has found enjoyable. States on the radar for future Gather Hear tours include Missouri, Michigan, and Florida. Sawada may even attempt to tour all three within the next year. She is in no rush, however. “If it takes 50 years, that’s fine,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how the project changes over time.”

MIKI SAWADA

Published November 6, 2018
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YSM Student News | October 2018

Ethan Braun

Organist David von Behren ’19MM toured the U.K. this past summer, performing recitals at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Clare College, Cambridge University, and Chester Cathedral. Von Behren also joined the teaching faculty of this year’s American Guild of Organists’ Pipe Organ Encounter Plus program in Rockford, Ill.

Two major works by composer Ethan Braun ’21DMA were premiered this fall including an evening-length work performed by Ensemble Klang and the Gaudeamus Muziekweek in The Netherlands, and a work for brass quintet and electronics performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. An opera commissioned by the City of Berlin’s Hauptstadtkulturfonds will be premiered in December.

Tubist Jake Fewx ’18MM ’19MMA won first prize in the Tuba Artist division at the 2018 Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival Competition in August.

Violinist Bora Kim ’16MM ’17MMA ’23DMA successfully auditioned for the chance to borrow a 1747 Palmason Januarius Gagliano violin (valued at $425,000) for three years from the Canada Council for the Arts’ Musical Instrument Bank.

Composer Alexis C. Lamb ’20MM will have her first work for orchestra premiered in March 2019 by the Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra. Lamb will also perform with the world music sextet Projeto Arcomusical in the premiere of a new concerto by Elliot Cole.

Ingram Lee ’19MM won the position of Second Trombone with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra in Maine.

Composer Aaron Israel Levin ’19MM had two pieces performed as part of the National Conference of the Society of Composers: Springbokkie was performed in Tacoma, Wash., last March, and Operating Room was performed at Indiana University in September.

Violinists Gregory Lewis ’19MM and Marianne di Tomaso ’17MM ’19MMA participated in the Violin Competition at the Virtuoso & Belcanto Festival in Lucca, Italy, in July. Tomaso earned first prize and Lewis earned second prize.

As the grand prize winner of the New York Youth Symphony’s First Music program, Ryan Lindveit ’19MM was commissioned to write an orchestral piece that will be premiered in Carnegie Hall in May 2019 and performed by Interlochen’s World Youth Symphony Orchestra in July 2019.

Liliya Ugay

Trumpeter Chloe Swindler ’19MM was selected to tour as an Associate Artist with the Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass for its 2018-2019 season. The tour includes performances in New York, Vermont, Arizona, Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Texas, and Iowa.

Composer Liliya Ugay ’16MM ’22DMA was a Baumgardner Fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival’s Choral Workshop. Ugay was also selected as a composer-in-residence at the American Lyric Theater, where she will work on a full-length opera in 2018-2020.

As the first-prize and audience-prize winner in the Young Artist Division at the 2017 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival, organist Grant Wareham ’20MM performed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hartford in September.

Published October 10, 2018
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YSM Alumni News | September 2018

Reena Esmail. Photo by Rachel Garcia

Sandbox Percussion, a group comprised of Jonathan Allen ’13MM ’14AD, Victor Caccese ’13MM, Ian Rosenbaum ’10MM ’11AD, and Terry Sweeney ’15MM, recently signed on with Blu Ocean Arts Music Management company.

Hornist Jocelyn Crawford Carr ’08MM was appointed third horn of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.

Composer Reena Esmail ’11MM ’14MMA ’18DMA has been elected to the executive board of New Music USA.

Pianists Juan Carlos Fernández-Nieto ’09MM ’10AD and Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA participated in the Santander International Piano Competition in Spain. Park advanced to the semifinals, while Fernández-Nieto advanced to the finals and took home the Canon Audience Prize.

Guitarists Thomas Flippin ’07MM ’08AD and Christopher Mallett ’09MM, performing as Duo Noire, released an album called Night Triptych on New Focus Recordings. The album features several world-premiere recordings of newly commissioned works by women composers.

Keyboardist Stephen Gamboa ’16AD was named Music Director at Bethesda Lutheran Church in New Haven.

David Gier

David Gier ’85MM ’86MMA ’92DMA has been appointed Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater & Dance. He was also named the Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music.

Composers Trevor Gureckis ’07MM and Jay Wadley ’07MM ’08AD, founders of the artist collective Found Object Music Productions, have been nominated for an Emmy Award for their work on the sixth season of HBO’s VICE.

Conductor Ng Tian Hui ’10MM was named the conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony in Greenfield, Mass.

Pianist Wenbin Jin ’13MM ’15AD was awarded the Liszt Ferenc Society’s International Grand Prix du Disque for his Naxos recording of Liszt’s Grandes études, S. 137. An award ceremony will take place on Liszt’s birthday, October 24, in Budapest.

Pianist Fantee Jones ’18MMA, violinist Sissi Yuqing Zhang MMA, and violinist Kyung Min Lee ’17MM toured Asia this past summer as Ensemble Trois.

Clarinetist Emil Khudyev ’11MM received tenure at the Seattle Symphony & Opera Players’ Organization in June.

Soprano Jihee Kim ’11AD received third prize at the Riccardo Zandonai Competition this summer at the Musica Riva Festival in Italy.

Conductor Jahja Ling ’80MMA ’85DMA is the subject of an exhibition at the Bonita Museum and Cultural Center in California. Running through the end of September, the exhibition charts the highlights of Maestro Ling’s career and includes interactive elements to introduce visitors to the world of orchestral conducting.

Alasdair Neale. Photo by Lucy Gellman

Conductor Alasdair Neale ’85MM ’86MMA has been named Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, beginning in the 2019-2020 season.

Composer Tawnie Olson ’99MM ’00AD was awarded the 2018 Barlow Prize from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition and will compose a new major work for SATB choir. The Barlow Endowment, based at Brigham Young University, also awarded composer Andy Akiho ’11MM a grant to compose a work for Sandbox Percussion.

Hilary Purrington ’17MMA is one of six composers whose work was played, workshopped, and recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Assistant Conductor Kensho Watanabe ’09BS ’10MM.

Pianists Gabriele Strata ’19MM, Wenting Shi ’19MMA, and Yannick van de Velde ’20MMA took home awards from the Virtuoso & Belcanto Festival in Lucca, Italy. In the piano competition, Strata won first prize and Shi won third prize. Shi and van de Velde won first prize in the chamber music competition for their piano four-hands performance of The Rite of Spring.

 

Published September 7, 2018
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YSM Alumni News | July 2018

Samuel Adams

Composer Samuel Adams ’10MM had a new chamber concerto premiered by violinist Karen Gomyo and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His Movements (for us and them) will be performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra on tours of Australia and the United States this summer.

Guitarist Trevor Babb ’12MM ’14MMA was appointed adjunct artist in guitar at Vassar College and will begin that role in the fall.

Hornist Luke Baker ’18MM, bassoonist Matthew Gregoire ’17MM, and double bassist Kaden Henderson ’17MM ’18MMA will join The Orchestra Now at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season.

Composer, pianist, and organist Calvin Bowman ’99MMA ’05DMA was signed to Decca/Universal Music Australia, which will release a recording of his songs called Real and Right and True in July.

Sarah Boxmeyer ’16MM won the position of associate principal/third horn of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Boxmeyer played with the orchestra for much of the 2017-2018 season and will begin her first full season in September.

Conductor John Concklin ’08MM received a one-year appointment as associate professor of conducting at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University.

Kevin Dombrowski ’14MM won the position of second trombonist of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and will begin playing with the orchestra in October.

Percussionist Timothy Feeney ’01MM ’02MMA ’07DMA was appointed to a full-time faculty position as a percussion artist at the Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts.

Timothy Gocklin ’14MM ’15AD was appointed artist-in-residence in oboe at the University of Northern Colorado.

Romie de Guise-Langlois

Romie de Guise-Langlois ’06MM ’07AD was appointed assistant professor of clarinet at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Violinist Ethan Hoppe ’16MM ’18MMA will join the New World Symphony for the 2018-2019 season.

Guitarist Sharon Isbin ’78BA ’79MM is serving as director of classical guitar at the Aspen Music Festival this summer, teaching, giving master classes, and performing.

Organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM AD recently joined the Philadelphia Orchestra on its tour of Europe and Israel. Jacobs’ recent solo engagements also include performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra.

Conductor Farkhad Khudyev ’10MM, the third prize-winner at the eighth annual Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in 2017, received a 2018 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award.

Pianist Henry Kramer ’13AD ’19DMA was named the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Joyce and Henry Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University.

Violinist Cheuk Yin Luu ’18MM won a position in the first violin section of the Buffalo Philharmonic and will begin playing with the orchestra in September.

Missy Mazzoli ’06MM was named the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s new Mead Composer-in-Residence. Music Director Riccardo Muti appointed Mazzoli to a two-year term.

Bassoonist Marissa Olegario ’15MM was appointed assistant professor of music at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music for the 2018-2019 academic year. Olegario will teach bassoon and perform in the Arizona Wind Quintet, a faculty ensemble.

Choral conductor Sarah Paquet ’16MM was appointed assistant director of choral activities and lecturer in music in the Smith College Music Department and will begin in the fall.

Trombonist Matthew Russo ’12MM joined the S. E. Shires Company’s artist roster.

Kate Sheeran

Hornist Kate Sheeran ’04MM was named executive director of the Kaufman Music Center, effective in August 2018. Sheeran previously served as provost and dean at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

James Austin Smith ’08MM joined the faculty at Stony Brook University as interim visiting artist-in-residence of oboe.

Flutist Leo Sussman ’18MM will join Ensemble Connect in September.

Guitarist An T. Tran ’16MM was awarded first prize at the University of Rhode Island’s Rising Stars Competition.

Pianist Yevgeny Yontov ’14MM ’20DMA was appointed to a one-year assistant professorship as instructor of piano in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. Yontov will begin in mid-August and will teach piano and collaborative piano and coach chamber music.

Pianist Joon Yoon ’16MM was awarded the Guildhall School’s (London) Gold Medal, the school’s most prestigious prize for outstanding soloists.

Published July 9, 2018
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YSM Student News | June 2018

Ji Su Jung

NeoArctic, a large-scale multimedia work by composer Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’22DMA, was staged at the Southbank Center in London, in May.

Composers Ethan Braun ’21DMA and Liliya Ugay ’16MM ’22DMA have been named 2018 CULTIVATE fellows and are currently participating in the emerging composers institute at Copland House, in Cortlandt Manor, NY.

Tubist Jake Fewx ’18MM ’19MMA will compete in August as a semifinalist in the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival competition, in Twin Lake, Mich.

Percussionist Ji Su Jung ’19MM won the Houston Symphony’s Ima Hogg Competition in early June. In addition to receiving the Grace Woodson Memorial Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize, Jung took home the Herman Shoss Audience Choice Award. As the winner of the competition, Jung will perform in July as a soloist with the Houston Symphony.

Flutist Benjamin Morency ’18MM won the Boston Woodwind Society’s Doriot Anthony Dwyer Merit Award Competition in April.

The New York Times described composer Peter S. Shin ’20MMA as “a composer to watch” in “The Week in Classical Music,” which includes a review of the premiere of his orchestral piece Slant.

Violist Marlea Simpson’19MM has earned a tenured position in the Grant Park Orchestra, in Chicago, Ill.

Published June 6, 2018
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Prizes awarded at annual Honors Banquet

Dean Robert Blocker

On Sunday, May 6, YSM Dean Robert Blocker told graduating students that he looks forward to hearing their music in venues around the world. The occasion was the School’s annual Honors Banquet, which was held this year at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale. Attendees included students and alumni, faculty and staff, YSM board members Mary Beth Buck, Walter Buck, and Stephanie Yu Lim, and emeritus staff and faculty members Rosemary Gould, Gene Kimball, Judy Long, and Mary-Jo Warren. Aimlee Laderman, whose late husband Ezra Laderman was a longtime member of the School’s composition faculty and from 1989 to 1995 served as Dean, was also in attendance.

Blocker announced that the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award would be presented at Commencement, as this year’s recipient, composer Lori Laitman ’76MM, was unable to attend the Honors Banquet, at which the award is traditionally conferred. Blocker congratulated students who won or placed at competitions this year and acknowledged YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative, whose leadership — Director Rubén Rodríguez ’11MM, Associate Dean Michael Yaffe, and Yaffe’s assistant, Rachel Glodo — was recognized by the University in April with an Ivy Award for the work the program does at Yale and in the New Haven community. “Yale has no finer community engagement program than Music in Schools,” Blocker said.

At the end of the night, Blocker expressed his gratitude to students, faculty, and staff for a wonderful year. “As one who at different moments has been touched by your talent and compassion,” he said, “I want to thank you on behalf of a wider audience.”


The following student prizes were presented during the Honors Banquet.

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 oboist Lauren Williams. The John Swallow Prize, which is given to an outstanding brass player whose artistry and dedication have contributed to the department, was awarded to trombonist Zachary Haas.

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Director of Choral Conducting Marguerite Brooks, Joseph Kemper, and Professor of Choral Conducting Jeffrey Douma

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Director of Choral Conducting Marguerite Brooks, Joseph Kemper, and Professor of Choral Conducting Jeffrey Douma

Choral Conducting

The inaugural 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 Joseph Kemper.

Composition

The Woods Chandler Memorial Prize for the best composition in a larger form written during the year was awarded to Krists Auznieks. The Rena Greenwald Memorial Prize for the best piano composition written during the year went to Alishan Gezgin. The John Day Jackson Prize for outstanding chamber music compositions written for strings with or without other instruments was presented to Fjóla Evans. The Frances E. Osborne Kellogg Memorial Prize for the best composition written in a contrapuntal style was given to Liliya Ugay. And the Ezra Laderman Prize for the best compositions written for musical theater or voice was awarded to Sophie Cash-Goldwasser and Eli Greenhoe.

Dean Robert Blocker, Sophie Cash-Goldwasser, Eli Greenhoe, and Professor of Composition Martin Bresnick

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Sophie Cash-Goldwasser, Eli Greenhoe, and Professor of Composition Martin Bresnick

Guitar

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 Gunnlaugur Björnsson.

Organ

The Charles Ives Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding organ major, went to Diana Chou. The Julia R. Sherman Memorial Prize for excellence in organ playing was awarded to Matthew Daley.

Piano

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 Gabriele Strata. The Elizabeth Parisot Prize, which goes to outstanding pianists in the School of Music, was awarded to Dong Won Lee and Yannick Van de Velde.

Strings

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 Julia Clancy. The Aldo Parisot Prize, which is awarded to gifted cellists who show promise for a concert career, was presented to Samuel DeCaprio and Bitnalee Pong. The Broadus Erle Prize, which is given to outstanding violinists in the School of Music, went to Laura Park, Alyssa Blackstone, and Dhyani Heath.

Voice

The David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding singer in the School of Music, went to Stephen Clark. 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 Sylvia D’Eramo. 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 Bryan Murray.

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 presented to composer Krists Auznieks.

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, Sophiko Simsive, Leo Sussman, Scott Leger, Liliya Ugay, Director of Admissions and Alumni Affairs Donna You, Bora Kim, Sarah Saturnino, and James Simon Lee

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, Sophiko Simsive, Leo Sussman, Scott Leger, Liliya Ugay, Director of Admissions and Alumni Affairs Donna Yoo, Bora Kim, Sarah Saturnino, and James Simon Lee

School

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 flutist Helen Hye Jin Park. The Philip Francis Nelson Prize, which is awarded to a graduating student whose musicianship is outstanding and who demonstrates curiosity, talent, and the entrepreneurial spirit in the many dimensions of the music profession, was presented to violist Florrie Marshall. The Presser Foundation Music Award, which is awarded to an outstanding returning student to advance his or her music education, went to Shawn Hutchison. 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 clarinetist Graeme Johnson, violinist Bora Kim, choral conductor James Simon Lee, hornist Scott Leger, mezzo-soprano Sarah Saturnino, pianist Sophiko Simsive, flutist Leo Sussman, and composer Liliya Ugay.

Photos by Harold Shapiro.

Published May 8, 2018
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