Pianist Szymon Nehring wins Harvard Musical Association’s Foote Award

Szymon Nehring

Pianist and current School of Music artist diploma candidate Szymon Nehring has won the Harvard Musical Association’s 2018 Arthur W. Foote Award, which is presented “to instrumentalists of the highest musical caliber of university or conservatory level who are about to launch professional careers,” according to language on the association’s website. Nehring will perform at a private event for association members and their guests on Feb. 2 in Boston.

Nehring “was clearly the consensus” winner among jury members this year, John Anthony Schemmer, the chairman and vice president of the HMA, said. “He’s still very young, but he has already a very decided personality of his own and he has the ability to draw in and engage the audience.”

Violinist and current YSM artist diploma candidate Sirena Huang and organist David Simon ’17MM, who is pursuing his doctorate at the School of Music (and studying at the Institute of Sacred Music), also inspired members of the Foote Award jury. They “made very favorable and distinguished impressions on us,” Schemmer said.

Previous Foote Award winners from YSM include organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM ’03AD (2003) and pianists Ryo Yanagitani ’04MM ’05AD ’08MMA and Henry Kramer ’13AD ’15MMA (2005 and 2014, respectively). Schemmer, who graduated from Yale College in 1968 with a degree in music theory and composition, said the School of Music’s “profile has been rising for several decades,” and that YSM’s students are “absolutely superb.”

Nehring is the latest to reflect that assessment. Upon reviewing Nehring’s recorded performances, one jury member said “he had the audience engaged before he began playing,” according to Schemmer, who, in turn, said that Nehring “is prepared with these pieces in the most extraordinary way.”

Nehring, who studies at the School of Music with Boris Berman, arrived at Yale in fall 2017 having won the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv, Israel, in May. In October, Nehring was named the Personality of the Year as part of the 2017 Polish Music Coryphaeus Awards and was honored that month alongside other award recipients in Warsaw, Poland. Before enrolling at YSM, he studied with Stefan Wojtas at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The Harvard Musical Association was founded by Harvard alumni in 1837 but is not affiliated with that university.


Published January 11, 2018
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YSM alumni take home Grammys

Michael Daugherty. Photo by Grant Leighton

Michael Daugherty. Photo by Grant Leighton

Yale School of Music alumnus Michael Daugherty ’82MMA ’87DMA received three 2017 Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, for his Tales of Hemingway for cello and orchestra, which was recorded by cellist Zuill Bailey and the Nashville Symphony conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero. The piece won in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Best Contemporary Classical Composition, and Best Classical Compendium categories.

Tales of Hemingway was commissioned and premiered by Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony, whose live recording of that performance was released on an album with Daugherty’s American Gothic and a 2015 revision of his Once Upon a Castle, a work for organ and orchestra whose solo part was performed by YSM alumnus Paul Jacobs ’02MM. Guerrero recently conducted the Yale Philharmonia in a program that included Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde and Shostakovich Symphony No. 10.

Percussionist David Skidmore ’08MM earned a 2017 Grammy as a member of Third Coast Percussion, whose recording of works by Steve Reich won in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category. MORE

Published February 13, 2017
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[ in the press ]

Interview with organist Paul Jacobs

pauljacobsSan Francisco Piano Examiner
By Elijah Ho

Paul Jacobs is the current Chair of the Organ department at the Juilliard School. In 2003, the Curtis and Yale alumnus was appointed a member of faculty at the age of 26. A Naxos recording of Messiaen’s ‘Livre du Saint Sacrement’ was awarded ‘Best Solo Instrumental Grammy of the Year’ in 2011, making Jacobs the first organ soloist to win a Grammy. This afternoon at Davies Symphony Hall, he offers a solo recital of works by Bach, Mozart, Guilmant, and Reger. Below is a transcript of our recent San Francisco conversation with the brilliant organist, Paul Jacobs.

EH: The organ has such a long and rich history. So many of the great composers of the past composed for it and knew it intimately. What happened to the organ and its incredibe traditions ?

Jacobs: Some organists lost sight of the point of music-making, which is to stir the soul — or, at the very least, to entertain. MORE

Published February 16, 2014
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[ in the press ]

HuffPost: A Conversation With Organist Paul Jacobs

pauljacobsHuffPost San Francisco
By Sean Martinfield

Bay Area fans of organ concerts feel a sense of celebration whenever Paul Jacobs is in town. The best of The Best is back. This coming Sunday afternoon at Davies Symphony Hall, Mr. Jacobs will be working the magnificent Ruffatti organ through an Olympian program that includes Bach’s Sinfonia to Cantata No. 29, followed by Mozart’s Andante in F major for Mechanical Organ, the Organ Sonata No. 1 in D minor by Alexandre Guilmant, and culminating with Max Reger’s Introduction, Variations, and Fugue on an Original Theme. It is Reger’s ultimate composition for the organ — the kind that rattles a flying buttress or can blow the roof off. According to Paul, it’s like looking at Mount Everest. MORE

Published February 13, 2014
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[ in the press ]

Organist Paul Jacobs performs in memory of Marianne Webb

The Southern Illinoisian 

The renowned organist Paul Jacobs will present a concert next month in honor of the late esteemed organist Marianne Webb.

The performance will start at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17 in SIU’s Shyrock Auditorium.

Ms. Webb served as a professor at SIU for almost 50 years and was credited with creating a rich and thriving environment for organ music performance in the region and across the United States. MORE

Published December 26, 2013
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[ alumni ]

Alum Paul Jacobs to direct new organ institute at Oregon Bach Festival

jacobs_paulThe Oregon Bach Festival has announced the appointment of organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM, ’03AD to lead its newly-created Organ Institute in the 2014 season.

The organ figured prominently in the compositions and performance life of J.S. Bach, and the announcement noted that the Oregon Bach Festival is arguably the first major festival to add a component devoted exclusively to organ study and performance.

The inaugural Organ Institute will take place June 30–July 5, 2014, within the Oregon Bach Festival’s schedule of June 25–July 13, 2014. Through the Institute, organists will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the art of organ playing, exploring technique and interpretation through specialized seminars. MORE

Published November 15, 2013
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[ Inauguration ]

Video: Inauguration Celebration Concert

In honor of University President Peter Salovey’s inauguration, a musical celebration of all that is Yale was held on Friday, October 11th in Woolsey Hall.

The event was hosted by Master of Ceremony Robert Blocker, Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music, and featured performances by the University’s major performing ensembles: Yale Concert Band, Yale Philharmonia, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale Camerata, and Yale Glee Club. Other performers included University Organist Thomas Murray; organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM, ’03AD; the Yale Cellos, directed by Aldo Parisot; and an ensemble of Yale guitarists, directed by Benjamin Verdery.

Watch the full video of the performance below. The concert starts approximately 10 minutes into the video.

Published October 14, 2013
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Paul Jacobs ’02MM, ’03AD wins Grammy for Messiaen recording

Paul Jacobs. Photo by Stefan Cohen.

Paul Jacobs ’02MM, ’03AD was awarded a Grammy on Sunday by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He won in the category of Best Instrumental Soloist Performance without orchestra for his recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Livre du Saint-Sacrement. The recording, his second album, was released in September on the Naxos label.

In an interview in December, Jacobs said, “Who would have believed that twentieth-century French organ music would be up for a Grammy?”

According to one article, Jacobs is the first organist to ever win a Grammy. He is currently the chairman of the organ department at the Juilliard School in New York.

Jacobs performed the complete Livre du Saint-Sacrement on the Newberry Organ in Woolsey Hall as part of the Yale School of Music’s celebration of the Messiaen Centenary in December 2008.

Published February 14, 2011
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