Violist Josip Kvetek ’18MM, on being a soloist with an orchestra of his peers

Josip Kvetek ’18MM

When violist Josip Kvetek ’18MM played Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola on a recital here at YSM last year, it wasn’t with an eye on performing the piece with the Yale Philharmonia, which he’ll do on Friday, Jan. 26. “It’s not very serious music,” Kvetek said, explaining that the Paganini sonata is a fun piece of music, a quirky sonata that just happens to be, in the words of principal conductor Peter Oundjian, “probably the most difficult piece ever written for viola.” After Kvetek’s recital performance last year, his teacher, Ettore Causa, suggested that he enter the Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition, which Kvetek won in April 2017.

The sonata, Kvetek said, is “not standard repertoire for viola.” Paganini, he explained, “commissioned a piece from Berlioz” to be played on a five-string viola. Berlioz, in response, composed Harold in Italy, an orchestral piece with viola solos. “Paganini didn’t like the first draft of the piece,” Kvetek said, “so he decided to write his own piece.” The result is “a sonata for solo instrument and orchestra, which is very odd.”

Kvetek will perform the piece on a standard viola, an instrument without an added E string, which means “I have to play with an improvised thumb position” to execute passages in the instrument’s upper register. In terms of interpretation, Kvetek said, “it’s very simple, harmonically and melodically. It’s just simple from every angle.” Still, it’s a piece that can easily feel like blocks of virtuoso passages arranged without much cohesion. “It starts becoming 50 little tasks,” Kvetek said, “and not one, coherent story. The part that helps with that is it’s very operatic. It’s much easier if you let go of the classical way of thinking.”

Now in the second year of YSM’s master of music degree program, studying with Causa, and with Steven Tenenbom while Causa is on sabbatical, Kvetek has done his share of playing with the Yale Philharmonia as a member of the orchestra’s viola section. On Jan. 26, he’ll be out front, next to guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn, who’ll lead a program that also includes Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919 version) and Franck’s Symphony in D minor. Performing as the soloist with an orchestra of his peers is “a little bit more stressful,” Kvetek said, “because you do know all the people. The benefit is that they’re very supportive and very helpful in the process. Everybody is hoping or cheering that you play the best you can. It becomes much easier to play in that environment.” The stress, he said, comes from wanting “to present yourself well” in front of one’s peers.

Given the operatic nature of the Paganini sonata, Kvetek said, “The majority of it is on me to deliver a performance that other people can follow.” Part of that responsibility, to be sure, falls on Solzhenitsyn, with whom Kvetek hasn’t worked. Basing his impressions on YouTube videos, Kvetek described Solzhenitsyn as an expressive conductor, which “will help me connect with the orchestra and will help bring this piece together.” Because there’s no “prescribed way of how you perform” the Paganini, Kvetek said, “It’s up to me to play it just the way I want to play it.”

On Friday, Jan. 26, guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn leads the Yale Philharmonia in a program that includes Stravinsky’s spellbinding Firebird Suite (1919 version), Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, with 2017 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Josip Kvetek ’18MM, and Franck’s inventive and affecting Symphony in D minor.


Published January 18, 2018
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[ students & alumni ]

Daniel Stone ’16 MM to join the Calgary Philharmonic

Daniel-StoneDaniel Stone ’16 MM has been appointed section violist in the Calgary Philharmonic, and will begin his tenure with the the orchestra in fall 2016.

Stone is a recent graduate of the Yale School of Music where he studied with Ettore Causa. A native of Chicago, he previously studied at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with Stephen Wyrczynski of the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as with Desirée Ruhstrat of the Lincoln Trio. During the summer season, he has performed at the Norfolk, Sarasota, Tanglewood, and Aspen music festivals. In August 2015, he was featured in Norfolk’s Gala Concert with Emanuel A. While at Indiana University, he performed with the European Union Youth Orchestra as a guest American musician. As a soloist, he has appeared on Chicago’s radio station WFMT for the program “Introductions.”

Stone is also a self-taught music editor and arranger, and his arrangements of Balkan folk tunes are frequently performed by the Black Oak Ensemble. Upcoming performances include a Solo Bach collaboration with the New Haven Ballet and concerts at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival.

Published May 26, 2016
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[ concerts ]

With Pluck: Music for Harp April 8 & 10

June Han, harp

June Han, harp

The Yale School of Music continues its acclaimed Yale in New York Series on Sunday, April 10 with a program titled With Pluck: Music for Harp. The concert will feature YSM harp professor June Han alongside fellow faculty members and YSM student and alumni performers.

The program highlights YSM faculty harpist June Han and the Yale harp program. Han herself will perform Sequenza II by Luciano Berio. In the virtuosic solo work, Berio seeks to explore the capabilities of the instrument beyond its typical uses, which he describes as “seductive glissandi.”

Han will also team up with violinist Suliman Tekalli ’15 AD and cellist James Kim ’13 CERT for a performance of Henriette Renie‘s Trio for harp, violin, and cello, followed by Debussy‘s Sonata for flute, viola and harp with fellow YSM faculty members Ransom Wilson, flute, and Ettore Causa, viola.

The program will also present YSM students in a variety of works including Pasculli‘s Omaggio a Bellini for English horn and harp, and De Falla‘s Seven Popular Songs, sung by YSM artist diploma candidate Evanna Chiew, mezzo-soprano.

The concert takes place Sunday, April 10, 2016 at 7:30 pm in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Tickets are $25 general admission, $15 for students with current ID, and are available through the Carnegie Hall box office (57th Street & 7th Ave., New York City), online at, or CarnegieCharge: 212 247-7800.

There will also be a preview concert on Friday, April 8 at 7:30 pm, held at the Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall Street, New Haven) on the Yale campus. Admission to the preview concert is free.

Published April 6, 2016
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[ faculty ]

Ettore Causa featured in new Pro Classical video

YSM faculty member Ettore Causa is featured in Viola con Variazioni, a new video presented by Pro Classical. The video, subtitled Ettore Causa: Fragments of a Violist, focuses on Causa’s approach to performing and his musical influences. A member of the YSM faculty since 2009, Italian-born Causa is considered one of the most brilliant violists performers and pedagogues of our time, having been awarded multiple international prizes, with solo and recital appearances throughout the world, and two albums on the Claves record label.

In the video profile, Causa discusses how he discovered the viola and his modern French instrument, his teacher Alberto Lysy, how he selects repertoire to perform, his teaching and collaboration with his colleagues at Yale, and his passion for photography. In addition, the video features a soundtrack of Causa performing various works including Robert Schumann’s Viola Concerto. MORE

Published March 4, 2016
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[ concerts ]

Violist Ettore Causa, pianist Wei-Yi Yang perform Feb. 12 with violinist Julie Eskar

Ettore Causa, Wei-Yi Yang, and Julie Eskar

Ettore Causa, Wei-Yi Yang, and Julie Eskar

The Yale School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series presents a recital featuring violist Ettore Causa and pianist Wei-Yi Yang, along with guest violinist Julie Eskar, on Friday, February 12 at 7:30 pm. The concert will include music by Mendelssohn, Nielsen, Penderecki, Fauré, and Bruch.

The program opens with two sonatas: Felix Mendelssohn’s Sonata for Viola and Piano in C minor, MWV Q14, and Carl Nielsen’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2, Op. 35. The two string players will team up for Krzysztof Penderecki’s Ciaccone for Violin and Viola.

Causa will perform his own arrangement of Gabriel Fauré’s Elegie, Op. 24, originally written for cello and orchestra. All three musicians will come together to close the concert with four selections from Max Bruch’s Pieces for Violin, Viola, and Piano, Op. 83. MORE

Published February 9, 2016
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Frankl and colleagues present celebratory recital Feb 6

Peter Frankl, piano

Peter Frankl, piano

The Faculty Artist Series at the Yale School of Music presents a concert celebrating Peter Frankl‘s 80th birthday year on Saturday, February 6 at 4:00 pm.

Frankl, a pianist, will team up with fellow YSM faculty members Ani Kavafian, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Ole Akahoshi, cello; Stephen Taylor, oboe; David Shifrin, clarinet; Frank Morelli, bassoon; William Purvis, horn; and Janna Baty, soprano. In various configurations, they will perform music from Schumann and Saint-Saëns to Dohnányi and Dutilleux.

The program opens with three duets: Camille Saint-Saëns‘ Five Songs for oboe d’amore and piano; Robert Schumann‘s Three Romances for bassoon and piano; and Henri Dutilleux‘s Choral, Cadence et Fugato for trombone and piano. MORE

Published January 12, 2016
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[ concerts ]

Violist Ettore Causa and pianist Boris Berman perform together Oct. 27

berman-causaThe Faculty Artist Series at the Yale School of Music presents Ettore Causa and Boris Berman on Tuesday, October 27 at 7:30 pm. The acclaimed YSM faculty members will perform works from their new recording, Brahms & Schumann: Transcriptions for Viola & Piano.

First on the program is Brahms’ Cello Sonata in E minor, Op. 38. The work pays homage to J. S. Bach, and the principal theme of the first and third movements are based on Contrapunctus 4 and 13 from The Art of the Fugue.

After intermission, the program will continue with three works by Schumann that were originally written for wind instruments: Drei Fantasiestücke for clarinet and piano; Romances for oboe and piano; and Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano. These duos were part of Schumann’s plan to compose a sonata or similar duo with piano for each instrument, a task that was quickly forgotten as his attention was diverted to orchestral works. MORE

Published October 19, 2015
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[ concerts ]

Ransom Wilson, Ettore Causa, June Han perform together Oct. 1

Ransom WilsonThe Faculty Artist Series at the Yale School of Music presents Ransom Wilson, Ettore Causa, and June Han together in concert on Thursday, October 1 at 7:30 pm.

The trio of acclaimed Yale faculty members will perform works for flute, viola, and harp, and several combinations thereof. They will open the program with works by three French composers: Jean Cras’ Suite en duo for flute and harp, Jean Françaix’s Suite pour flûte seule, and Maurice Duruflé’s Prélude, Récitatif, et Variations.

After intermission, the program will continue with Arnold Bax’s Elegiac Trio and Cesar Franck’s Melancolie for viola and piano, arranged by Ettore Causa. The evening will conclude with Claude Debussy’s well-known Sonata for flute, viola and harp. MORE

Published September 25, 2015
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[ concerts ]

Ettore Causa, Boris Berman perform music by Beethoven and Brahms Feb. 16

berman-causaThe Faculty Artist Series at the Yale School of Music presents a recital by pianist Boris Berman and violist Ettore Causa on Monday, February 16.

The duo will team up to perform a selection of music by Beethoven and Brahms. The program will include the pair of Brahms sonatas originally written for clarinet and piano, though often heard on the viola. Mr. Causa has released a critically-acclaimed recording of Brahms’ sonatas on the Claves label.

Also on the program are two of Causa’s own Beethoven arrangements: the Cello Sonata in C major Op. 102, No. 1, and Seven Variations on a Theme from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. MORE

Published February 12, 2015
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Faculty pay tribute to composer Alfred Schnittke in Nov. 19th concert


Alfred Schnittke

The Yale School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series presents a concert of music by Alfred Schnittke (1934–1998) commemorating the 80th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Sarita Kwok, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Ole Akahoshi, cello; and Wei-Yi Yang, piano will play three of Schnittke’s duos for strings and piano. This concert offers a relatively rare opportunity to hear a full evening of work by the Soviet composer.

Schnittke focused mainly on chamber music, particularly the human-like voices of string instruments. He developed a polystylistic approach that combined and juxtaposed styles from across eras. The violinist Midori has written that “Schnittke saw music as a chronicling of human life and of the history that shaped it.” MORE

Published November 14, 2014
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