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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Memorial celebration of John W. Swallow to take place August 4 in Norfolk

John W. Swallow

John W. Swallow

The family of John W. Swallow and the Yale School of Music invite the public to a memorial celebration of trombonist John Warner Swallow. The event will take place Sunday, August 4 at 5 pm at the Music Shed in Norfolk, Conn.

Tributes and performances will highlight Swallow’s contribution to the world of music, life, and the art of trombone playing. The Music Shed is located at the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, 20 Litchfield Road, Norfolk, CT 06058.

Professor John Swallow came to the School of Music in 1965 as Lecturer of Trombone. He retired in 2001 as Professor of Trombone, adjunct, and received emeritus status. He was also a vivid presence at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. MORE

Published July 10, 2013
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In memoriam: John Warner Swallow

John Swallow, Professor Emeritus of Music, died Saturday, October 20, 2012 after a long illness.

In a message to the School, Dean Robert Blocker wrote of the community’s “admiration and affection” for Professor Swallow, who came to the School of Music in 1965 as a Lecturer of Trombone. Swallow retired in 2001 as Professor of Trombone, adjunct, and received emeritus status.

John Warner Swallow was born in 1924 in Oneida, New York. A member of the New York Brass Quintet for many years, he was considered one the most important trombone performers and teachers in the United States. He enjoyed performance associations with the Utah Symphony under Maurice Abravanel and the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner, and was a member of groups such as Gunther Schuller’s Twentieth Century Innovations and Arthur Weisberg’s Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. He was the subject of a doctoral thesis by Brett Arthur Shuster, “John Swallow: A Study of His Life and Influence in the Trombone World” (Arizona State University, 2002).

“John was both artist and teacher in the most exemplary fashion,” wrote Blocker, “and his ready smile and collegial manner endeared him to students, faculty, and staff alike. His distinguished contributions to YSM and to music will endure through the lives and work of students fortunate enough to have studied with him.”

According to the family, a commemorative event will be held next summer.

Click HERE for an audio interview with John Swallow by Abbie Conant.

Published October 24, 2012
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