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 Shakespeare-inspired program

Peter Oundjian. Photo by Sian Richards

Programming a Yale Philharmonia concert is always about providing context for each piece. To open the 2018-2019 Philharmonia season, Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian has put together a program of repertoire inspired by the words and works of Shakespeare: Berlioz’s Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, based on the Bard’s Much Ado About Nothing; Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, which uses text from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to celebrate the power of music; and selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. “There is a lot of extraordinary music that was inspired by arguably the greatest poet of all time,” Oundjian pointed out, explaining that “it’s the element of curiosity and adventure that make this kind of program so interesting.”

The challenge members of the Philharmonia have taken up with this program is, in Oundjian’s words, “to basically sound like many different orchestras in one evening. You need to be able to be many, many characters and describe many scenes.” For the Berlioz, he said, the musicians “need sheer virtuosity.” The Serenade to Music, for which the Yale Glee Club and the Yale Voxtet will join the orchestra, is intense in its serenity and introspection. (Reportedly, Rachmaninoff, who performed on the same program in 1938 that featured the premiere of the Serenade to Music, was reduced to tears by the piece’s beauty.) “This piece is magical,” Oundjian said, looking forward to collaborating with the Glee Club and Voxtet. “It’s a thrill to hear wonderful vocal groups. There’s nothing more immediate or direct than the singing voice.”

Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, “one of his absolute masterpieces,” Oundjian offered, carries the listener from the tender to the tragic. For this performance, the Philharmonia will use Oundjian’s arrangement of the composer’s ballet score, whereas most orchestras perform one of the three concert suites that Prokofiev created. “The order of events, in the suites, is not respected,” Oundjian explained. “(Prokofiev) didn’t try to make the suites chronologically correct.” In creating his arrangement, Oundjian sought to offer a symphonic expression of the ballet. “I wanted people to be able to follow the story,” he said. The Philharmonia will tell that story, and those being told by Berlioz and Vaughan Williams with inspiration (and words) from the Bard.

Members of the Philharmonia, Oundjian said, are “extremely sensitized to deep human emotions. They’ve had to find a way to connect with deep human emotions because they play an instrument.” Together, they are able to convey and express what a composer—three composers, in the case of this program—sought to share with concertgoers. They enjoy the process of putting a program together and letting it take on a life of its own on stage in Woolsey Hall. “By the time the concert comes, there’s a camaraderie that they’ve discovered in a very short time,” Oundjian said. “There’s absolutely a sense of discovery and spontaneity.”

Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian leads the Yale Philharmonia in a program of music inspired by Shakespeare on Friday, September 28, at 7:30 pm, in Woolsey Hall.

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Published September 20, 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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Marin Alsop to lead Yale Philharmonia in program of Bernstein, Beethoven

Marin Alsop. Photo by Adriane White

Yale Philharmonia Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian has described Marin Alsop as “one of the greatest conductors of her generation.” A 2005 MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Grant”) recipient, Alsop has served since 2007 as the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She has also led the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and has appeared with many of the world’s most celebrated ensembles. Alsop was recently appointed chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the latest in a series of “firsts” as a woman conductor.

“I’m very honoured to be the first, but I’m also rather shocked that we can be in this year, in this century, and there can still be ‘firsts’ for women,” Alsop told The Guardian. She made similar comments, at greater length, at the final concert of the 2013 BBC Proms.

Eager to see others succeed as she has, Alsop established the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship, which helps prepare women conductors for work on the podium and in offstage leadership areas, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program, which was “designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods,” according to the organization’s website.

Alsop has not been shy about using her position in the music world to point out inequities. Her social activism was inspired in part by her mentor, the late Leonard Bernstein, whose 100th birthday, which falls on August 25, the performing arts community has been celebrating.

“He was a very generous human being who believed in access and inclusion and equity for all people,” Alsop said of Bernstein, with whom she studied at Tanglewood. That legacy, she said, “inspires me to try to use the opportunities I have to create a more just landscape for people.”

On Friday, April 20, Alsop will lead the Yale Philharmonia, Yale Glee Club, and Yale Camerata in a performance of Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony, on a program that also includes Bernstein’s Opening Prayer and Chichester Psalms. Beethoven’s Ninth, she said, “was a critical piece for Bernstein,” one that represented possibility and hope. It’s a piece he famously conducted in Berlin, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in a performance that featured musicians from East and West Germany, Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States. It was the hope that Bernstein found in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that Alsop is eager to celebrate, along with Bernstein’s birthday and his music.

In addition to Bernstein’s Opening Prayer, which was composed for the 1986 reopening of Carnegie Hall and eventually became part of his Concerto for Orchestra, the April 20 Yale Philharmonia program includes Chichester Psalms. Like Beethoven’s Ninth, Alsop said, Chichester Psalms is “a piece about hope and possibility.”

Having worked closely with Bernstein certainly informs Alsop’s performances of his music. “Knowing a composer as a human being gives us that added dimension, that added insight” into the motivation for writing a piece, she said. It is her responsibility, and the Philharmonia’s, to tell the music’s story. And that’s the same wherever she’s conducting. “I approach every orchestra as professional musicians whom I respect,” she said. While more might be expected of her, in terms of providing insight or direction, from a younger orchestra than from a veteran ensemble, “I don’t think about it any differently.”

On Wednesday, April 18, Alsop will join School of Music Dean Robert Blocker for a conversation about Leonard Bernstein’s legacy and music, the pursuit of diversity in our field, Beethoven’s revolutionary Ninth Symphony, and working with the next generation of orchestral musicians.

On Friday, April 20, guest conductor Marin Alsop will lead the Yale Philharmonia, Yale Glee Club, and Yale Camerata in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, on a program that also includes Bernstein’s Opening Prayer and Chichester Psalms.

A CONVERSATION WITH MARIN ALSOP
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Published April 13, 2018
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Paolo Bortolameolli named assistant conductor at LA Phil

Paolo Bortolameolli

Conductor Paolo Bortolameolli ’13MM has been appointed an assistant conductor to Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel at the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the upcoming season. Bortolameolli previously served as a Dudamel Fellow, an initiative, Dudamel said in a press release, that “continues the LA Phil’s commitment to supporting and training the next generation of exceptional conductors.”

While at YSM, Bortolameolli was an assistant conductor of the Yale Philharmonia. He has served as a cover conductor for Marin Alsop at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and led the New Haven Chamber Orchestra during his final year at Yale.

A native of Chile, Bortolameolli has worked with the top ensembles in that country including Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago, Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile, Orquesta de la Universidad de Concepción, Orquesta USACH, Orquesta de Cámara de Chile, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Juvenil.

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PAOLO BORTOLAMEOLLI

Published August 1, 2017
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This young rising star from Philly just got the call-up of a lifetime

Kensho Watanabe

The Philadelphia Inquirer | By David Patrick Stearns

Kensho Watanabe can barely fathom the turn of events that found him on stage leading the Philadelphia Orchestra last weekend — with three hours’ notice.

 “I know what happened,” Watanabe said in an interview this week. “But my brain is still processing it.”

Surreal is one word that comes to mind, he said. Watanabe was notified at 5 p.m. Saturday that music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin had come down with a virus and could not conduct the 8 p.m. program at the Kimmel Center.

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Published June 29, 2017
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Achievements celebrated at annual Honors Dinner

Carol Colburn Grigor, recipient of the Samuel Simons Sanford Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Samuel Simons Sanford Award winner Carol Colburn Grigor, and Robert Blocker

The Yale School of Music held its annual Honors Dinner on Sunday, May 7, welcoming students and alumni, faculty and staff, and distinguished guests to the Yale Commons for an evening of celebration. After thanking recently retired staff members for their service and acknowledging the University officers who were in attendance, YSM Dean Robert Blocker presented Carol Colburn Grigor ’69MMA CBE with the School’s highest honor, the Samuel Simons Sanford Award. Grigor, Blocker, said, “is one of America’s most generous … most thoughtful philanthropists.” Composer and former Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills congratulated Grigor via video.

Willie Ruff, recipient of the Nathan Hale Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Nathan Hale Award recipient Willie Ruff, and Robert Blocker

Dean Blocker, with University President Peter Salovey and Yale Provost Benjamin Polak at his side, presented longtime YSM professor Willie Ruff ’53BM ’54MM, who will retire at the end of the semester, with the University’s prestigious Nathan Hale Award. “He’s changed all our lives,” Blocker said, before attendees were shown a video tribute to Ruff’s life and work. In a nod to the man who indirectly inspired him decades ago to study at YSM, Ruff said, “I thank, most of all, Charlie Parker.” The jazz office in the Yale School of Music’s Adams Center for Musical Arts was recently named in Ruff’s honor.

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award winner Warren Lee, and Robert Blocker

Blocker presented the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award to pianist Warren Lee ’00MM and the Cultural Leadership Citation to retiring Yale Collection of Musical Instruments curator William Nicholas Renouf ’71MMA. The Collection’s director, William Purvis, accepted the Citation on behalf of Renouf, who was unable to attend the Honors Dinner. Before presenting student prizes, Blocker referenced an impressive number of awards and successes earned and realized this year by students, faculty, and staff. He recognized longtime YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl, who plans to retire in the fall, for his dedication to the School community.

At the end of the evening, Blocker told the students in attendance, “Claim the future. It belongs to you. You will make us better.” What follows is a list of the student prizes awarded during YSM’s 2017 Honors Dinner. MORE

Published May 9, 2017
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Conductor Dante Anzolini named music director of Orquesta Sinfónica de Guayaquil

Photo by Sarah Wilson

Conductor Dante Santiago Anzolini ’89MM ’97DMA has been appointed music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Guayaquil, in Ecuador. Anzolini is the subject of a March 1 blog post (“How to Choose a Music Director Without Talking to Agents”) on Norman Lebrecht’s website, Slipped Disc. Lebrecht’s blog post details the compelling and rather straightforward process by which the OSG chose Anzolini from an initial group of nearly 100 applicants. Every member of the orchestra in Guayaquil was involved in the selection process.

Anzolini was one of five conductors to be invited to conduct the orchestra in a three-hour rehearsal. He is enthused about leading the group, whose “potential,” he said, “is bigger than even they think.” Anzolini is no stranger to capable ensembles, having conducted such orchestras as the Vienna Symphony, German Opera on the Rhine, Bonn Opera, Munich Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, American Composers Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and the Washington National Opera, among others.

Anzolini recently paid a visit to the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Eleazar de Carvalho.

“When he saw that I was serious,” Anzolini said, “he offered me lessons every day,” explaining that “if it wasn’t for Yale, I would not be a conductor.”

SLIPPED DISC

DANTE ANZOLINI

Published March 31, 2017
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Inside YSM: David Yi, conductor

David Yi

On Friday, February 24, 2017, YSM conducting fellow David Yi led the Yale Philharmonia and student pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov in a performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Ravel’s “Le tombeau de Couperin,” and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.

Asked when he became interested in conducting, David said, “I first started with the piano and then played the violin. For some reason, I always wanted to become a conductor, ever since I was a child. I always loved playing in the orchestra as a violinist/pianist. There is something great about making music with a large group of people. As a conductor, nothing is more satisfying than the moment when I realize that we are making music together.” 

In addition to his studies with Yale Philharmonia principal conductor Peter Oundjian, David’s approach to leading an orchestra has been shaped by several other notable conductors.

“Hugh Wolff at the New England Conservatory had a huge influence on my approach to score study,” David said. “Nicolás Pasquet at the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Germany helped with physical conducting. I had an opportunity to study with Riccardo Muti. He emphasized the importance of showing drama through music.”

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Published March 24, 2017
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Farkhad Khudyev wins third prize in Solti International Conducting Competition

Farkhad KhudyevFarkhad Khudyev ’10MM was named the third prize-winner in the 8th annual Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition on February 16, 2017. Khudyev was one of 22 aspiring young composers selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants to participate in the live rounds of the competition, and his 3rd place finish earned him the opportunity to conduct the Frankfurt Radio Symphony in addition to cash prizes.

“It felt incredible conducting one of the best orchestras in Europe and performing for the German audience,” Khudyev said. “I could strongly feel the traditions and the culture of the orchestra.”

Khudyev’s performance of Weber’s Oberon Overture in the final round was praised by the Frankfurter Neue Presse as “graceful, very sensitive, with almost magically bright winds.”

Khudyev has been the recipient of the “Best Interpretation Prize” at the 1st International Taipei Conducting Competition in Taiwan, the Grand Prize and Gold Medal at the 2007 National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and the recipient of the Glenn Miller Competition Prize and the Neil Rabaut Prize. He has performed around the United States, Europe and Asia at world-class venues and festivals including the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Emilia Romagna Festival in Italy, the Alte Oper Great Hall and the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festpiele in Germany. MORE

Published March 23, 2017
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