YSM faculty mezzo-soprano Janna Baty, on collaborating with faculty pianist Peter Frankl

Janna Baty

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl will give one of his last performances at Yale before retiring at the end of the semester. He’ll be joined for an all-Schumann program by faculty mezzo-soprano Janna Baty and baritone Randall Scarlata. We asked Prof. Baty about collaborating with Prof. Frankl, and about her colleague’s contributions to the Yale community and beyond.

Q: What about working with Peter Frankl is inspiring and artistically nourishing?

JB: He is utterly engaged and dedicated to getting the music right. He is exacting in his own work, which inspires me in mine. He is also deeply in love with vocal literature, which (alas!) cannot be said of all pianists, and understands its conventions and techniques. He has a Geiger counter-like sensitivity to the placement of consonants and an in-depth knowledge of every inch of the poetry, which means he colors his accompaniments perfectly. Schumann is especially good with Peter, as the singer and pianist are effectively two sides of the character’s brain. It’s an immersive and even overwhelming experience to work with him, one for which I’m enormously grateful.

Q: What are your conversations about music like?

JB: They range from matter-of-fact (tempi, rubati, choices of repertoire) to gossipy! We both adore opera and spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about this production and that, this singer and that. It’s always so much fun. Our musical conversations — meaning, poetry — are mostly just that, expressed in the music. When you get it, you get it.

Q: What do you learn — and what have you learned — about music and your own artistry from working with Peter? (In a sense, what kind of teacher is he?)

JB: My first collaboration was with Peter and Claude Frank singing Brahms’ Liebeslieder-Walzer as a graduate student (calling it a collaboration is a stretch … it was a public recital at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, but for us singers it was a master class!) and, more than 25 years later, this recital is the most recent. I’ve learned that sincerity, dedication, honesty, and passion onstage are all that matter. The other junk — egos, publicity, the public reaction — just doesn’t matter. When you are completely committed onstage, the audience comes with you.

Q: What do you hope audiences take away from the concerts you perform with Peter Frankl?

JB: That vocal chamber music is every bit as viable an art form as any other type of piano repertoire. It is, in so many ways, the most important form of chamber music of all, because it includes words. Peter treats collaborations with singers no differently than he treats collaborations with other artists, which is validating to singers like myself and so important for the public to see. I wish all pianists had this dedication to and skill with the repertoire!

Q: How would you describe Peter’s artistic contribution to the YSM community and beyond?

JB: Immeasurable. He is a treasure and will be missed profoundly. But I have a feeling we’ll see him around here again someday! Are you listening, Peter?

Peter Frankl will perform a Horowitz Piano Series recital on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 pm, in Morse Recital Hall. He’ll be joined by faculty mezzo-soprano Janna Baty and baritone Randall Scarlata in an all-Schumann program. Learn more and buy tickets.

Published November 7, 2017
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YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl to retire after 30 years, having inspired generations

Peter Frankl

By Lucile Bruce

Peter Frankl will retire at the end of this semester, concluding his remarkable 30 year career at the Yale School of Music, where he has touched the minds — and more important, the hearts — of hundreds of students.A virtuoso performer and beloved teacher, Frankl was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1935, into a musical family. His parents were semi-professional musicians who played piano at home. They took their son to many concerts and he remembers hearing “many great artists like Klemperer, Bernstein, and my idol, the pianist Annie Fischer.”

Frankl began playing the piano at age 5. “It has been my passion in life ever since,” he said.

He made his London debut in 1962 and his New York debut with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell in 1967. Since then, he has played on the world’s top stages with the most celebrated orchestras and eminent conductors, including Abbado, Boulez, Davis, Haitink, Maazel, Masur, Muti, and Solti. His world tours have taken him to Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He has appeared more than 20 times at London’s BBC Proms and at many major festivals. Inspired as a young musician by the legendary Leó Weiner, his chamber music teacher, Frankl is also a well- known chamber music performer. For years, the Frankl-Pauk- Kirshbaum Trio traveled the world, and Frankl’s many chamber music partners include the world’s most renowned artists.

It was Boris Berman, professor of piano and coordinator of the piano department at YSM, who invited Frankl to come to Yale, first in 1987 as a visiting teaching artist.

Until that time, Frankl’s occupation was mainly concertizing; he rarely taught, even master classes. “It never occurred to me to teach on a regular basis,” he said. “However, Yale’s reputation attracted me greatly and I decided to give it a try.”

He harbored a deeper reason, however, for teaching. “By then I was 52 years old,” he explained. “I had the impression that the young generation of pianists were more interested in reaching technical perfection than in involving themselves in the emotional and spiritual meaning of what each composer wanted to express in their works.

“Somehow I started feeling responsible towards the future of music-making,” he continued. “Instead of grumbling about this, I wanted to do something positive.”

He thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere at YSM, including the School’s “relatively intimate size.” As two esteemed piano faculty members were approaching retirement, Yale offered to extend Frankl’s appointment. He gladly accepted.  MORE

Published November 6, 2017
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Mezzo-soprano Janna Baty and guests perform Poulenc, Granados, and more Nov. 11

Janna BatyThe Yale School of Music’s Faculty Artist Series presents a recital by mezzo-soprano Janna Baty on Tuesday, November 11 at 7:30 pm. Baty, joined by pianist Daniel Hobbs and violinist Jacob Joyce, will perform music by Gioachino Rossini, Francis Poulenc, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Claude Debussy, and Enrique Granados.

The program opens with selections from Rossini’s lyric drama Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc), followed by Poulenc’s Quatre Poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire, four songs written in 1931 to texts by Poulenc’s compatriot Apollinaire. MORE

Published October 30, 2014
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First directorial effort from YSM faculty member Janna Baty wins award

A rehearsal with Opera Theatre of Yale College

A rehearsal with Opera Theatre of Yale College

The Opera Theatre of Yale College (OTYC) has been named the second-place winner in the 2014 American Prize in Opera Performance, university division.

Their winning production of Le Nozze di Figaro was directed by YSM faculty member Janna Baty, the faculty adviser for OTYC. MORE

Published October 29, 2014
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Updated program announced for Vocal Britain concerts

The Yale School of Music is pleased to announce the updated program and performers for Vocal Britain, the first concert of this year’s Yale in New York Series.

Janna Baty, mezzo-soprano

The program of music by Benjamin Britten and William Walton will take place on Sunday, December 4, at 7:30 pm, in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. New Haven audiences will get a preview of that program on Thursday, December 1, at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall.

World-renowned hornist and Yale faculty member William Purvis will perform Britten’s haunting “Serenade” with tenor Dann Coakwell ’11AD and a string orchestra of current Yale students.

The program will open with esteemed mezzo-soprano Janna Baty, a faculty member and a graduate of the School of Music, and pianist Jill Brunelle performing William Walton’s delightful, rarely-heard song cycle “A Song for the Lord Mayor’s Table.”

John McDonough, narrator

The second half will feature Walton’s tour-de-force, “Façade: An Entertainment,” with Baty and actor

John McDonough reciting Edith Sitwell’s inimitable poetry. William Boughton, the music director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and an expert in the music of William Walton, will conduct a chamber ensemble of Yale School of Music instrumentalists.

The charismatic McDonough, an actor and narrator, has performed with numerous orchestras and chamber music festivals, including narrating Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat” at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival this past summer. He has recorded hundreds of audiobooks, winning an Audie Award in 2006, and starred in the revival of Captain Kangaroo. MORE

Published November 18, 2011
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Faculty artists perform Yiddish cantata, Shostakovich, Beethoven, Schumann, de Falla

Soprano Janna Baty and friends perform multilingual program Oct. 9

The Yale School of Music presents the acclaimed pianist Peter Frankl and soprano Janna Baty in a Faculty Artist Recital on Sunday, October 9, 2011 at 4 pm in Morse Recital Hall. Along with faculty colleagues Ani Kavafian, violin; Ole Akahoshi, cello; and Allan Dean, trumpet, they will perform vocal works of Beethoven, Schumann, Shostakovich, and more.

The concert will open with selections from Beethoven’s Folkslieder and Neue Folkslieder for voice, violin, cello, and piano. Next will be a rarely performed piece: Iván Fischer’s Eine Deutsch-Jiddische Kantate: Die Stimmen der Geister for mezzo-soprano, trumpet, and piano. Fischer, widely known as a conductor, has recently gained fame for his daring production of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. He wrote this cantata partly out of fear that without musical compositions, the Yiddish language “may be forgotten.”

The first half of the recital will close with Schumann’s beloved song cycle Frauenliebe und –leben (A Woman’s Life and Love), written as a wedding gift for the composer’s wife Clara.

The second half opens with Shostakovich’s Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok, Op. 127, for voice, violin, cello, and piano. Gerard McBurney calls the piece “an extraordinarily intense sequence: sweet and deeply personal meditations about love, intimacy, friendship and the power of art.” Another collection of seven will conclude the concert: Siete canciones populares españolas by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.

The concert is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. MORE

Published September 20, 2011
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Yale alumnae take part in Opera Boston’s Cardillac

Opera Boston is presenting the long-delayed New England premiere of Hindemith’s opera Cardillac on February 25 and 27, and March 1. Making their Opera Boston debuts in mainstage roles are Sol Kim-Bentley, a graduate of Yale College, and Janna Baty, a YSM alumna who is now on the faculty of the School of Music.

Paul Hindemith, whose first opera is rarely performed, taught at Yale for many years. Academically, many of his contributions were to early music, particularly in founding the university’s collegium musicum. He modeled much of Cardillac on the structure of Handelian opera.

Opera News and the Boston Globe have both written preview articles about the production.

Soprano Sol Kim-Bentley, a longtime featured member of Opera Boston’s ensemble, was most recently a memorable Roll Seller in 2009’s The Nose. Cardillac marks her principal role debut as Cardillac’s Daughter, who cannot compete with her father’s golden creations for his love. Kim-Bentley, a two-time Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions regional finalist, most recently understudied the title role in their world premiere of Zhou Long’s Madame White Snake (performing the role for an  invited  dress rehearsal),  sang the role of Tosca with Longwood Opera, and was the Roll Seller in Opera Boston’s New England premiere of Shostakovich’s The Nose. MORE

Published February 24, 2011
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Yale Philharmonia offers Mahler, Berg, and Akiho’s new steel pan concerto January 21

The Yale School of Music presents the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale and conductor Shinik Hahm on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 8 pm in Woolsey Hall. The concert will open with Andy Akiho’s new Concerto for Steel Pans, which received its premiere December 9 in Sprague Hall. Akiho, a trained percussionist as well as composer who has studied steel pan culture in Trinidad, will be the soloist in the piece. Akiho’s concerto was selected by the Yale School of Music’s composition faculty to be performed on this program.

Soprano Janna Baty will join the orchestra to perform excerpts from Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck. The opera, based on Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck, was a succès de scandale at its premiere in 1925 and quickly took off across Europe. Baty, a member of the School of Music faculty, has been praised by the Boston Herald for her “voice brimming with richness and confidence.”

The concert will close with Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D major, called “The Titan” not for its size – though a performance requires about 100 musicians and lasts about one hour – but because Mahler originally based the work on Jean Paul’s novel of the same name. MORE

Published December 15, 2010
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Soprano Janna Baty performs music from Rossini to Rands

Baty joined by guest artists Daniel Hobbs, piano, and Sarita Kwok, violin


The Yale School of Music presents a recital by soprano Janna Baty on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College Street, New Haven). Baty has been praised by the London Financial Times for her “eloquent dignity and vibrant tone” and by the Boston Herald for her “voice brimming with richness and confidence.” In this performance, part of the School’s Faculty Artist Series, she will perform with pianist Daniel Hobbs and violinist Sarita Kwok.

The program incorporates a broad range of music, beginning with Rossini’s Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) and continuing with Debussy’s Proses Lyriques, a set of four songs on the composer’s own symbolist poetry. Baty, a frequent performer of new music, will sing Memo 7 by the composer Bernard Rands (a YSM alum), with whom she has worked in the past. The program continues with Samuel Barber’s Four Songs, Op. 13: “Nocturne,” “Monks and Raisins,” “Sure on this Shining Night,” and “I Hear an Army.” The evening will conclude with Villa-Lobos’s Suite para canto e violino, a collection of three songs for voice and violin. MORE

Published December 14, 2010
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Mezzo-soprano Janna Baty makes faculty artist recital debut

baty_vMezzo-soprano Janna Baty, now in her second year on the faculty of the Yale School of Music, will perform a recital on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall. In her first appearance on the Faculty Artist Series, Baty and pianist Karl Paulnack will perform Beethoven’s An die Ferne Geliebte and selected songs from the Spanish composer Fernando Obradors, as well as Apparition, a piece by George Crumb for soprano and amplified piano. In addition, Baty and Paulnack will be joined by flutist Laura Gilbert and cellist Jacques Wood for Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses.

Admission to the concert is free. For more information on the Faculty Artist Series and other performances at the Yale School of Music, visit music.yale.edu or call 203 432-4158.

About the artist
Janna Baty, mezzo-soprano, has appeared recently with the Hamburgische Staatsoper, the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Eugene Opera, Opera North, and Boston Lyric Opera. She appears regularly with the contemporary ensembles Collage New Music, Auros Group for New Music, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project, with whom she recorded a disc for Naxos of works by Reza Vali. Ms. Baty was winner of the XXI International Music Competition “Dr. Luis Sigall” in Chile. She has sung under Seiji Ozawa, Michel Plasson, Carl Davis, Robert Spano, and Steuart Bedford. Festival appearances include Aldeburgh and Britten (England), Semanas Musicales de Frutillar (Chile), and Tanglewood and Norfolk (U.S.). As recitalist and chamber musician, she has performed in Europe, the U.S., and South America with such distinguished musicians as violist Nobuko Imai, pianists Claude Frank and Peter Frankl, and guitarist Stephen Marchionda. Ms. Baty has worked with composers Bernard Rands, Sydney Hodkinson, Peter Child, Christopher Lyndon Gee, Fred Lerdahl, Yehudi Wyner, and John Harbison, in performances of their music. An alumna of Oberlin College and the Yale School of Music, she joined the Yale faculty in 2008.

Published September 22, 2009
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