Merz Trio is a winner of the Concert Artists Guild competition

The Merz Trio. Photo by Nile Scott

The Merz Trio, which includes pianist and Yale School of Music alumnus Lee Dionne ’11BA ’13MM ’14MMA ’19DMA, violinist Brigid Coleridge, and cellist Julia Yang, was named a winner of the 2019 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. The other winners were cellist Jamal Aliyev, violist Jordan Bak, and recorder player Tabea Debus.

“Each of the winners receives management contracts with CAG, including performance opportunities with more than 40 leading orchestras, concert series, and festivals, as well as a New York showcase performance and professional career development and coaching,” according to the organization’s news release. Application materials for this year’s competition required “a general statement of your artistic intent. This should also include how you plan to use your art to make an impact outside the concert hall.”

The Merz Trio, which won first prize at the 2019 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, “is passionate about connecting with diverse audiences through innovative concerts, multidisciplinary projects, and interactive performances,” the group’s website indicates. The trio’s work has been supported in part by Entrepreneurial Musicianship grants from the New England Conservatory, where it is in residence. The Merz Trio was formed in 2017 and won the Lerman Gold Prize and Audience Choice Award at the 2018 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition in Easton, Maryland.

Lee Dionne. Photo courtesy of the artist

A founding member of the Merz Trio, Dionne has performed as a chamber musician and as a soloist in venues around the world and has recorded for MSR Classics and Naxos Records. He is a core member of Cantata Profana along with several fellow Yale alumni including violinist Jacob Ashworth ’13MM ’14MMA ’18DMA, cellist Hannah Collins ’06BS ’08MM ’09AD, clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich ’13MM, stage director Ethan Heard ’07BA ’13MFA, guitarist Arash Noori ’12MM ’13AD, percussionist Doug Perry ’14AD, soprano Annie Rosen ’08BA ’12MM, composer-pianist Daniel Schlosberg ’10BA ’13MM ’14MMA ’18DMA, and bass-baritone John Taylor Ward ’12MM ’13MMA ’17DMA.

In addition to degrees earned at the Yale School of Music, Dionne has a soloist diploma from the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover, and an undergraduate degree in literature from Yale College.

The final round of the 2019 CAG competition took place on October 6, 2019, at Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City. Numerous YSM alumni have been among the winners of the CAG competition over the past decade. These include percussionist Mitya (Dmitrii) Nilov ’18MM; pianist Dominic Cheli ’16MM; guitarist Jiji (Jiyeon Kim) ’17MM; double bassist Samuel Suggs ’14MM ’20DMA; violinists Katie Hyun ’09AD and David Southorn ’09MM ’10AD, and cellist Mihai Marica ’04CERT ’08AD of the Amphion Quartet; violinist Sami Merdinian ’06MM ’07AD of Sybarite5; and violinist Sarah McElravy ’12AD, violist Eric Wong ’12AD, and cellist Felix Umansky ’12AD of the Linden String Quartet. The Argus Quartet, which served from 2015 to 2017 as YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, was a CAG competition winner in 2017. The competition has been held since the early 1950s.

The Yale Daily News recently published a piece about the Merz Trio. Read it here.

MERZ TRIO

LEE DIONNE

Published October 17, 2019
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Sofya Gulyak opens 2019-2020 Horowitz Piano Series

Sofya Gulyak

The 2019-2020 Horowitz Piano Series will introduce audiences to a number of ascendant artists, beginning with Sofya Gulyak, who opens the series with a recital on September 18. “This wonderful pianist became noticed through her winning of important competitions, most notably the Leeds International competition in 2009, when she became the first woman ever to take the first prize at this prestigious event,” series Artistic Director Boris Berman said.

Gulyak has appeared in recitals and concerts around the world and has performed as a soloist with such ensembles as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. Gulyak’s performances and recital programs have been praised by the international music press. Her eagerly anticipated recital at YSM features a number of fascinating transcriptions. Gulyak’s program opens with Ferruccio Busoni’s virtuosic rendering of Bach’s famous Chaconne from the Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor and closes with Liszt’s transcription of the climactic “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Ravel’s La Valse, the composer’s own transcription of his orchestral masterpiece. Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, a monumental composition that uses an unassuming movement from a suite by Handel as a point of departure, is also on the program, as is Cesar Franck’s Prélude, Fugue et Variation, a significant triptych dedicated by the composer to his teacher Camille Saint-Saëns.

In March, Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung will present a two-piano and piano four-hands program of music by Debussy, Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Lutosławski. The husband-wife duo has been praised by Gramophone for “[applying] their effortless synchronicity to unlocking the music’s pianistic potential.”

This year’s Horowitz Piano Series also introduces audiences to Boris Slutsky, YSM’s new Visiting Professor in the Practice of Piano, to the Morse Recital Hall stage. A “distinguished artist,” in Berman’s estimation, Slutsky will perform music by Haydn, Schumann, and Chopin in December. Slutsky joins faculty pianists Berman, Robert Blocker, Hung-Kuan Chen, Melvin Chen, and Wei-Yi Yang in presenting recitals during the 2019-2020 season.

DETAILS & TICKETS

Published September 4, 2019
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YSM Alumni News | May 2019

Miki Aoki

Composers Samuel Adams ’10MM and Suzanne Farrin ’00MM ’03MMA ’08DMA have been named 2019 Guggenheim Fellows.

Kathleen Allan ’14MM has been appointed Artistic Director and Conductor of the Amadeus Choir of Greater Toronto, a 45-year-old symphonic chorus that works regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Pianist Miki Aoki ’02MM released her fourth album, Tokyo Story, in the fall. It contains the world’s first recordings of the original piano scores of the last seven films by Yasujiro Ozu.

Composer Sheila Barnes ’74MM ’75MMA has taught voice at Cambridge University, Trinity College since 2010. In 2018 she adjudicated the Governor’s Prize of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and led a forum for composers at the Conservatory of Amsterdam on writing for voice. Barnes is currently writing an opera for the Netherlands Opera and the London-based early music group La Nuova Musica.

Double bassist Andrea Beyer ’15MM, bassoonist Francisco Joubert Bernard ’17MM, violinist Ethan Hoppe ’16MM ’18MMA, double bassist Levi Jones ’16MM, clarinetist Jesse McCandless ’17MM, cellist Alan Ohkubo ’14MM, violist Yuan Qi ’15MM, and violinist Yefim Romanov ’16AD are current fellows in the New World Symphony.

Violinist Claudia Bloom ’80MM is the Director of the Palo Alto School of Chamber Music, an intergenerational chamber music program. Now in its fifth year, the program offers professional coaching for string players, woodwind players, and pianists, and participants comprise a small orchestra.

The Great Necks Guitar Trio, whose members include Scott Borg ’06AD and Matthew Rohde ’07MM, released its debut album, Original Arrangements for Three Guitars, which reached the No. 10 spot on the Traditional Classical Billboard Charts for the week of December 1.

Trumpeter Joel Brennan ’06MM ’07MMA ’11DMA and violist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti ’08MM are inaugural faculty members at The Tianjin Juilliard School.

Violinist Davis Brooks ’78MM released his fourth solo album, Violin & Electronics 2, in December, featuring music by Richard Einhorn, Filipe Leitão, Frank Felice, Patrick Long, James Aikman, and Otto Luening.

Pianist Lydia Brown ’95MM ’96AD has been named Chair of the Collaborative Piano Department at the Juilliard School for fall 2019. Brown is in her 15th year as Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and her 13th year as the head of the vocal program at the Marlboro Music School and Festival.

The St. Martin’s Chamber Choir of Denver performed Two French Noels by Susan Brown ’76MM as part of a series that featured music by women composers, exclusively.

Conductor Hannah Carr ’17MM, Artistic Director of the Hoboken, New Jersey-based Cantigas Women’s Choir, led the group in a May 19 concert called “Music from the Mountaintops.”

Composer Carlos Carrillo ’96MM and flutist Christine Gangelhoff ’95AD recently co-organized Puentes Caribeños (Caribbean Bridges), a Symposium of Caribbean Art Music. The symposium focused on strengthening bonds between composers, performers, artists, and scholars throughout the Caribbean and its diaspora.

Countertenor Jay Carter ’08MM and soprano Sherezade Panthaki ’11AD sang the Houston premiere of Alessandro Stradella’s oratorio San Giovanni Battista with Ars Lyrica Houston in March.

Christopher Cerrone

The Peabody Institute will welcome Christopher Cerrone ’09MM ’10MMA ’14DMA and Harold Meltzer ’97MMA ’00DMA to its composition faculty for the 2019-2020 academic year. Cerrone was awarded a 2019 Charles Ives Fellowship by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Eric Cha-Beach ’07MM, a member of So Percussion, has contributed to tracks on the new album I Am Easy to Find by The National and appears on upcoming albums with Caroline Shaw, Buke and Gase, Tristan Perich, and others. So Percussion recently premiered Construction, a new project with choreographer Susan Marshall.

Trumpeter Kelly Dehnert ’86MM will return to Central Wyoming College as Director of Bands in fall 2019. Dehnert was Professor of Music at CWC for 14 years before spending eight years in Malawi, Africa, as Chair of Music at the African Bible College.

Percussionist Peter Derheimer ’88MM completed a tour of Germany with the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla in March with the celebrated guitar soloist Pepe Romero.

Conductor Dominick DiOrio ’08MM ’09MMA ’12DMA and NOTUS, the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, have been selected to perform at the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music in Auckland, New Zealand, in July 2020.

The April 2018 issue of The Strad included a feature on Spectrum Concerts Berlin, which opened its 31st season in March. The chamber ensemble is directed by founder and cellist Frank Dodge ’81MM.

Pianist Richard Dowling ’87MM has been appointed Visiting Artist Faculty at the new Aureus Conservatory of Music in Singapore. He will teach individual lessons, give master classes and workshops, and perform solo recitals during each of his six, two-week residencies in 2019 and 2020.

Violinist Gerald Elias ’75MM won first prize in the Creative Nonfiction Essay division of the 2018 Utah Original Writing Competition for his essay “War & Peace. And Music.”

The S&R Foundation announced its 2019 Washington Award winners: Reena Esmail ’11MM ’14MMA ’18DMA, who won the Grand Prize, and trombonist Brittany Lasch ’12MM. Esmail was one of six musicians to be named a 2019 Fellow by United States Artists, an organization that aims to illuminate the value of artists to American society.

The Pasadena Symphony’s 2019-2020 season will include a Composers Showcase featuring the music of up-and-coming composers, including Teen Murti by Reena Esmail and Red, Red Rose by Caroline Shaw’07MM.

Composer Kirsten Vogelsang Eyerman ’84MM recorded and released two albums in the past year, Glowing Prayer and Cello Holiday: Carols and Incantations.

Viola da gambist Grace Feldman’63MM was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame and was named one of TIAA’s 100 Difference Makers, an honor for which Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, where Feldman taught for 55 years, received $10,000.

Violinist Kirstin Fife ’86MM has had many of her compositions performed this year, including Four Paintings by Salvador Dalí by the Lobo Ensemble and Tango Johana for violin and piano. Her choral piece A Rose was recently performed in South Carolina.

The song “love is a place” by composer Douglas Fisk ’05MM ’06MMA (with text by E.E. Cummings) was included in NewMusicShelf’s Anthology of New Music: Mezzo-Soprano, Vol. I. Fisk was also awarded a 2019 New Work Grant by the Queens Council on the Arts.

Harmonizations and Descants, Parts I & II, by organist Stuart Forster ’98MM ’99AD, were published by Selah Publishing. The books have received praise from the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians.

Guitarist Lars Frandsen ’93MM was appointed Director of Music Theory and Ear Training at Nyack College, where he is a full professor at the Manhattan Campus. Dr. Frandsen is also an associate professor and director of classical guitar studies at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where he has taught for 21 years.

Composer Jeff Fuller ’69MM, with the trio Jeff Fuller & Friends, released his third album, Happenstance. Fuller formed the trio in 2014 to perform original music in the jazz tradition, and the group has since played at concerts, festivals, and clubs throughout Connecticut.

In January, harpsichordist Stephen Gamboa-Diaz ’16AD performed the complete Brandenburg Concerti, as the soloist and continuo player, with Chamber Music Silicon Valley.

Eliud Garcia

Trombonist Eliud Garcia ’17MM was selected for the 2019 Puerto Rico Summer Music Festival, with which he will perform Prokofiev’s First Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, and other works on a tour of Puerto Rico.

Zachary Haas ’18MM received an Honorable Mention at the International Trombone Association’s Edward Kleinhammer Orchestral Bass Trombone Competition.

Composer Juliana Hall ’87MM has had 35 song-cycles and vocal chamber works published by E. C. Schirmer, a cycle published by Boosey & Hawkes, and several songs recently chosen for NewMusicShelf’s new art-song anthologies.

As members of the Pacifica Quartet, violinist Austin Hartman ’06AD and cellist Brandon Vamos ’94MM ’95AD gave a concert on the 25th anniversary season of the Neskowin Chamber Music series in Oregon.

Pianist Nansong Huang ’18MM was named a 2019 Luminarts Fellow in Classical Music by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation of Chicago. The fellowship includes a $7,500 award.

Composer Thomas Johnson ’67MM recently presented a new sound installation, Knock on Wood, in Lausanne, Switzerland, in collaboration with Martin Riches. A book of Johnson’s writings in German and English was released by MusikTexte in April.

Percussionists Ji Hye Jung ’09MM, Matthew Keown ’16MM ’22DMA, Svet Stoyanov ’07MM, and Sam Um ’17MM ’18MMA performed the premiere of YSM faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis’ Drum Circles with the Oregon Symphony.

Composer John Kaefer ’01MM scored the upcoming films A Score to Settle, starring Nicolas Cage and Benjamin Bratt, and The Divine Plan, as well as the video game series Quantum Break. Kaefer’s recent concert work States of Motion was premiered by The Hollywood Chamber Orchestra with pianist Molly Morkoski.

Oboist Kristin Kall ’13MM ’14AD was named Director of Operations at the National Repertory Orchestra.

Composer Daniel Kellogg ’01MM ’03MMA ’07DMA was named President of Young Concert Artists in New York City.

Members of the icarus Quartet—percussionist Matthew Keown ’16MM ’22DMA and Jeff Stern ’16AD and pianists Larry Weng ’12AD ’14MMA ’19DMA and Yevgeny Yontov ’14MM ’20DMA—recently won Chamber Music in Yellow Springs’s 34th Annual Competition for Emerging Professional Ensembles.

Soprano Angela Jihee Kim ’11AD sang the role of Mimi in La Bohème with the Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in New Jersey.

Guitarist Jiyeon “Jiji” Kim ’17MM was the featured soloist in a performance of Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez with the Sequoia Symphony Orchestra.

Violinist Kyung Jun Kim ’09CERT was awarded fifth prize at the Rising Stars Grand Prix 2018–International Music Competition Berlin.

Baritone Paweł Konik ’17MM started the 2018-2019 season singing Mercutio in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at the Opera Śląska in Poland. Konik also made debuts at the Staatsoper Stuttgart in October as Marullo in Verdi’s Rigoletto and with the Kölner Philharmonie as Harlekin in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos.

Pianist Andrew Kraus MM presented a program of works by women composers at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., in March.

Guitarist Alan Kulka ’12MM released a single, “Special,” available on streaming services.

Jean Margaret Laurenz ’13MM ’14AD joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Professor of Trumpet.

Trombonist Achilles Liarmakopoulos ’10MM has released a new single, “I will never forget,” with guitarist Spiros Exaras.

Trombonist Richard Liverano ’16MM is the new Manager of Institutional Giving at Liberation Programs, Inc.

Soprano Jamilyn Manning-White ’12AD was featured a soloist in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem by the Hartford Chorale and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra in April.

After graduating from Yale, bassoonist Tonia Marcune ’73MM performed with several symphonies on the California coast and taught in the Music Department of the University of Nevada, where she completed a master’s degree in educational psychology. Today, Marcune lives in Boca Raton, Fla., where she works in forensics and performs with a touring orchestra during the summer months.

Organist Vaughn Mauren ’09MM was named Artistic Director of a newly established concert series at St. James Episcopal Church in West Hartford, Conn., and will play a recital to rededicate the church’s recently rebuilt pipe organ in late May.

Guitarist Michael McCallie ’08MM joined the faculty of the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., as full-time director of the school’s classical guitar program.

The Vic Firth Company released a video for “Five Times,” written for percussionist Kramer Milan ’15MM ’16MMA by Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’22DMA.

Violinist Ai Nihira ’08MM will join the first violin section of the San Diego Symphony for the 2019-2020 season.

Composer Andrew Norman ’09AD was named a 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Music for his orchestral work Sustain, which was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and premiered on October 4, 2018, under the baton of Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel.

Marissa Olegario ’13MM accepted the tenure track position of Assistant Professor of Music in bassoon beginning in fall 2019 at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music.

Composer Timothy Olsen ’88MM ’89MMA ’95DMA was named Professor of Music at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y, where he has taught courses in world music cultures, jazz improvisation, and music theory since 1994. Olsen has also been named Music Director at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady.

Organist David Perry Ouzts ’87MM co-chaired the liturgy/music committee and conducted music for the consecration of the Fourth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee in May. The festival service featured a diocesan choir of 125 singers with organ, brass, and timpani.

Oboist Andrew Parker ’10MM has been named Assistant Professor of Oboe and Director of Summer Music Camps at the Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music starting in fall 2019. He is currently Lecturer of Oboe and Music Technology at Brevard College.

Loft Recordings recently released Salome’s Dance, recorded by organist Robert Parkins ’73MM ’75MM ’80DMA on the renovated Aeolian organ in the Duke University Chapel. Parkins’ eighth solo recording features late German Romantic music and works by American composers.

Kim Perlak ’01MM was named Chair of the Guitar Department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. Perlak becomes the first woman to chair the department and the fourth person to hold the position since the college added guitar as a principal instrument in 1962.

Flutist Ginevra Petrucci ’12MM ’13AD is launching a multi-step commissioning project to expand the repertoire for the flauto d’amore. A concert program that will include music by Yale composers Gleb Kanasevich ’13MM and Liliya Ugay ’16MM ’22DMA is being planned.

Violinist Igor Pikayzen has been appointed Assistant Professor of Violin at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.

Composer Hilary Purrington ’17MMA joined Barnard College’s Office of Development as Associate Director of Advancement.

Bassoonist Dantes Rameau ’07MM has been selected as one of seven fellows for the DeVos Institute of Arts Management’s 2021 cohort.

Flutist Catherine Ramirez ’02MM released several chamber music videos through a Professional Development Grant from St. Olaf College. Ramirez also won several opportunities through the Sphinx Organization for Latinx and Black orchestral musicians and will participate in the National Alliance for Audition Support’s (NAAS) Audition Intensives at the New World Symphony in Miami and at the Sphinx Orchestral Partners Auditions (SOPA) in Detroit.

Violinist Kate Ransom ’81MM will launch the Serafin Ensemble, which evolved from the Serafin String Quartet, in June. Ransom will also serve as Artistic Director for the Serafin Summer Music festival, which will be presented by the Serafin Ensemble in collaboration with the University of Delaware and The Music School of Delaware.

Rhona Rider

Cellist Rhonda Rider ’80MM is Head of Strings at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. An Artist-in-Residence at Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks, she presented her solo cello commissions at UC Davis and Brandeis University. This summer she will hold a contemporary cello music seminar on a farm in upstate New York.

Soprano Natalia Rubiś ’17MMA sang the title role in Halka by Stanisław Moniuszko at the Wroclaw Opera House in Poland under the baton of Adam Banaszak.

Sharon Ruchman ’73MM wrote a memoir, The Gift of Rudy, and a piece for viola and piano, Another Time, to honor her great uncle Rudy Fuchs, a violinist who died at age 25.

Composer Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez ’91MM was a featured guest at Hong Kong Baptist University’s “The Keyboard in the 21st Century,” an international conference for composers, at the Mexico Remixed Festival at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and at the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition.

Tenor Rolando Sanz ’02MM ’03AD has taken on various large-scale projects as Executive Producer, including the world premiere of a new concept opera, I am Anne Hutchinson/I am Harvey Milk by Andrew Lippa, featuring the composer and Kristin Chenoweth.

Marco Sartor ’13MMA ’18DMA was appointed Assistant Teaching Professor of Guitar at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. He will start the position in the fall after three years on the faculty of the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Fla.

Organist Andrew Scanlon ’03MM was a clinician for the Royal School of Church Music Nigerian Training Course, held in Lagos, Nigeria, where he taught organ, choir training, theory, and conducting to organists and choirmasters from various parts of Africa and conducted the RSCM Nigeria National Choir at the closing performance of the conference.

Cellist Inbal Segev ’93CERT will premiere Anna Clyne’s cello concerto Dance in June with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Marin Alsop. Segev will record the concerto with Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in September.

Pianist Yury Shadrin’s ’08MM 2017-2018 season included appearances with the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gilmore Festival Orchestra in Kalamazoo, a solo recital at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, and master classes in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Nanning, China.

Bridge Records released Butterflies Remember a Mountain: Arlene Sierra, Vol. 3 in November, featuring the works of composer Arlene Sierra ’94MM. Gramophone praised the album as “a wonderful chamber music issue that enthralls from first bar to last.”

Inbal Segev

The Youth Symphonic Orchestra of Russia gave the world premiere of Across Differences by composer Alvie Singleton ’71MMA at the Zimnij Theatre in February as part of the Winter International Arts Festival.

Composer Caroline Shaw ’07MM and members of the Jasper String Quartet—violinist J Freivogel ’10AD, violist Sam Quintal ’10AD, and cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel ’10AD—were featured in a concert at the American Music Festival in Morehead City, N.C.

James Austin Smith ’08MM was appointed Co-Principal Oboe of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and became Artistic and Executive Director of Tertulia Chamber Music, a series that presents concerts in restaurants in New York and San Francisco.

Conductor Anna Song ’00MM was awarded the 2018 Tom Hellie and Julie Olds Creative Achievement Award for her work as Artistic Director of In Mulieribus, an early music women’s vocal ensemble based in Portland, Ore. In Mulieribus released a new album in March titled Cycles of Eternity featuring contemporary works for women’s voices.

The Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir premiered Out of the Whirlwind, a cantata for choir, soloists, and narrator by Max Stern MM at the Diaspora Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019.

Double bassist Alexander Svensen ’10MM was appointed Principal Bassist of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra. Svensen also retains his position as Assistant Principal Double Bassist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

Composer Augusta Read Thomas MM will have several works premiered this season, including a work for string quartet and percussion quartet commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the opening of its Tanglewood Center for Music and Learning, and an opera, Sweet Potato Kicks the Sun, for the Santa Fe Opera.

Horn player Josh Thompson ’17MM ’18MMA will join the Washington, D.C.-based wind quintet District5.

In January, tubist Daniel Trahey ’03MM held a residency with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Juvenil, Chile’s national youth orchestra, where he worked with students, trained educators, and collaborated with professional orchestral musicians to collectively compose a new work based on civil rights issues in Latin America.

Composer Jay Wadley ’07MM ’08AD created the score for the upcoming Netflix series Tales of the City.

Composer Joseph Waters ’82MM presented pieces from his developing work El Colibrí Mágico (The Magic Hummingbird), an opera-musical about Honduran refugees attempting to cross the border, at The Cutting Room in New York City in November and at the NWEAMO Festival in San Diego in April.

Conductor Amanda Weber ’13MM accepted the position of Interim Director of Choral Ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. Weber also celebrated three years of directing the Voices of Hope Women’s Prison Choir, which she founded in October 2015 at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee.

Clarinetist Jason Weinberger ’97MM, Artistic Director of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony in Iowa, recently founded the concert production company The New Live, which aims to bring sophisticated multimedia productions to orchestras and other presenters worldwide.

Pianist Amy Yang ’10AD performed as a guest artist with the Newport Symphony Orchestra in Newport News, Va. on a concert featuring Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Pianist Clara Yang ’06MM ’07AD was featured as a guest artist with the Winston-Salem Symphony, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503.

Pianist Hanna Yukho ’17MMA hosted “Celebrate the Gift of Hearing with an Evening of Music” in Winchester, Mass., an event that raised money for Massachusetts Eye and Ear to aid research of causes and treatments for children with hearing loss.

Published May 17, 2019
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Pianist Hilda Huang ’19MM ’20MMA receives Soros Fellowship

Hilda Huang. Photo by Maxwell Tiedemann

Pianist and current School of Music student Hilda Huang ’19MM ’20MMA has received the prestigious Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The Soros Fellowship is a merit-based scholarship for immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate work in the United States. Thirty winners are selected from a pool of more than 1,800 applicants every year, and each winner is awarded up to $90,000 to help support their education. The Soros Fellowship program was founded in 1997 and over the years “has built a community of 655 immigrants and children of immigrants … with heritage in 89 countries,” according to the organization’s website.

Huang was born in Fremont, California, to Chinese and Taiwanese parents and began playing piano at age 3. She received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Yale College before attending the Yale School of Music, where she is pursuing a master of music degree in piano performance, studying with faculty pianist and Deputy Dean, Melvin Chen. While she was an undergraduate at Yale College, Huang said, she recognized “the great potential of music to shape lives,” which convinced her of its “profound utility and worth” and led her to her current focus. She will remain at YSM next year to pursue a master of musical arts degree. Huang earned international acclaim upon winning the 2014 Leipzig International Bach Competition while she was still an undergraduate at Yale College. She was the first American to earn the prize and the youngest winner in the competition’s history.

“Winning the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship and being a student at the Yale School of Music are for me one and the same with what it means for me to be able to pursue a career in music,” Huang said. “The financial and institutional—not to mention artistic and academic—support provided by these two institutions is the means by which I am able to do what I love every day; they are gifts I do not take lightly. Playing the piano is one of the strongest forces in my life. It has contributed to shaping how I think, how I feel, and what I value. I have experienced unmatched happiness and productivity during my two years at YSM, and I am utterly grateful to have another year at YSM for my MMA. I intend to make the most of it.”

READ MORE ABOUT THE 2019 PAUL AND DAISY SOROS FELLOWS

Published May 6, 2019
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Pianist Henry Kramer ’13AD ’19DMA receives Avery Fisher Career Grant

Henry Kramer

Pianist and Yale School of Music alumnus Henry Kramer ’13AD ’19DMA, the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Joyce and Henry Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, has been awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. The $25,000 award is designed “to give outstanding instrumentalists significant recognition on which to continue to build their careers,” according to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which administers the Avery Fisher Artist Program. Other 2019 grant recipients include the JACK Quartet, pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton, and violinist Angelo Xiang Yu.

Past Avery Fisher Career Grant recipients include pianist Hung-Kuan Chen, violinist Ani Kavafian, and clarinetist David Shifrin—all members of the Yale School of Music faculty. Several School of Music alumni have also received an Avery Fisher Career Grant, including cellist Carter Brey ’79, pianist Helen Huang ’09MM, bassoonist Peter Kolkay ’02MMA ’05DMA, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman ’67MM.

Kramer, who studies at YSM with Boris Berman, won second prize at the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Competition and has earned prizes at the Honens International Piano Competition, Montreal International Music Competition, Shanghai International Piano Competition, and National Chopin Piano Competition. He was the recipient of the Harvard Musical Association’s 2018 Arthur W. Foote Award.

Kramer has appeared with the National Orchestra of Belgium, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, among others, and has worked with such conductors as Marin Alsop, Stéphane Denève, and Hans Graf. Prior to attending the Yale School of Music, Kramer earned bachelor and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School.

The 2019 Avery Fisher Career Grants will be presented on Friday, March 15, at 6 p.m., at WQXR’s Greene Space. The event, featuring performances by grant recipients, will be streamed live on the WQXR website.

Published March 15, 2019
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YSM Student News | March 2019

Sophiko Simsive. Photo by Marco Broggreve

Composers Ryan Lindveit ’19MM, Paul Mortilla ’20MM, Tanner Porter ’19MM, and Miles Walter ’20MM were awarded Charles Ives Scholarships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

As the winner of the Music Academy of the West’s 2018 Solo Piano Competition, Sophiko Simsive ’18MM ’19MMA will embark on a recital tour that includes appearances in London, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Pianist Gabriele Strata ’19MM was the winner of the 35th Concorso Pianistico Nazionale Premio Venezia (Venice Prize) and was awarded the Plaque of the President of the Italian Republic and the Medal of the Italian Senate.

Published March 12, 2019
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Professor Paul Berry on scholarship, performance, and Brahms

Paul Berry

Paul Berry

On Sunday, tenor Paul Berry, Associate Professor (adjunct) of Music History at the School of Music and the author of Brahms Among Friends: Listening, Performance, and the Rhetoric of Allusion (Oxford University Press), and Boris Berman, the Sylvia and Leonard Marx Professor in the Practice of Piano, will present “Of Love, Death, and Reconciliation: Songs and Intermezzi of Johannes Brahms.” Prof. Berry has shared a few thoughts about scholarship and performance, conceiving and preparing with Prof. Berman for Sunday’s recital, and “the value of live music-making.” 

Like many music scholars, I had been performing for years before discovering the academic disciplines devoted to the study of music. When I selected 19th century Austro-German song as an academic specialty in the early 2000s, I thought I was doing so because the subject allowed me to pursue a long-standing interest in German-language literature, but in retrospect a deeper reason was surely that my youthful instruments were voice and piano. As my scholarly interests have grown to include instrumental chamber music, the concerns of practicing musicians have remained central to my work: how the music feels in the hand or the voice, how the composer engages those feelings toward expressive ends, and how the act of musical performance can open up interpretive arenas for players and listeners alike. Brahms’ songs and piano pieces offer the historian particularly rich opportunities to investigate these questions, in part because he and his contemporaries left behind a vast array of documentary evidence that speaks to their own engagement with performance. To fully appreciate that evidence, I find I have to keep one foot in the world of the practicing musician, singing and playing the music I study rather than simply listening to it. This is one reason I love teaching at the School of Music: I learn as much from my students and their music-making as they do from me.

It was a wonderful privilege to prepare for this recital with Boris, who combines formidable knowledge of the repertoire with decades of experience playing Brahms’ music at a superb level. All told, we spent an average of more than an hour on each song we’ll perform, considering how Brahms’ compositional structures project his interpretation of each text and how the different musical choices we might make in realizing those structures could affect the listener’s understanding of that interpretation. Perhaps the most exciting part for me, however, was selecting the songs we would perform and placing them into a coherent order. The Four Serious Songs, Brahms’s last opus, are unusual in many ways, including their texts, which are not poems but passages concerning death from Luther’s translation of the Bible. These songs are usually performed continuously as a set, but, following Brahms’ own practice of creating flexible “bouquets” of songs, we decided to take them apart and use them as primary colors, emotional focal points around which other songs and short piano pieces could be grouped in provocative ways.

The piano pieces come from the collections of short works, Opp. 116-119, completed in the 1890s, that together comprise Brahms’ crowning achievement as a composer for the instrument. The songs span his entire output as a composer—from his first maturity in the early 1860s to the pinnacle of his public career in the 1870s and 1880s—and his life-long involvement with artfully arranged folksong. Some of them are quite dark, a few playful, many rich and autumnal, others light and fresh. Heard interspersed among the Four Serious Songs, the music on this program may facilitate for the audience some reflection about love, death, and the process of change—hence the title of the recital. But any such reflection will be individual, meaningful to each listener for herself alone. This, I think, is the value of live music-making in a time of pervasive distractions and pre-packaged playlists: to provide an unexpected space, an unpredictable collision of impulses, within which the self can find renewal and out of which conversation can begin again.

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Published February 27, 2019
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Pianist and composer Renee Rosnes to perform Ellington Jazz Series concert

Renee Rosnes

Jazz pianist and composer Renee Rosnes comes to Yale this week to perform an Ellington Jazz Series concert with her quartet, which includes vibraphonist Steve Nelson, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Lenny White. The group will play music from Rosnes’ two most recent albums, Beloved of the Sky and Written in the Rocks. We spoke with Rosnes, whom DownBeat has described as “a virtuoso jazz composer,” about the music on those recordings, and more.

Q: Beloved of the Sky includes music that celebrates the Pacific Northwest (where you’re from) and laments the environmental destruction that has scarred the region. …

A: There is one piece from the recording that deals with this subject and that is “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky,” which is the name of a painting by Canadian artist Emily Carr (1871-1945). Having grown up in British Columbia and seeing her work frequently, Carr’s paintings evoke a strong emotional response in me. Her canvases of the Canadian coastal landscapes and deep woods are familiar territory. She was an environmentalist ahead of her time and created several paintings that deal with her concern for the environment, and specifically the clear-cutting of forests (Odds and Ends, Above the Gravel Pit, Loggers Culls, Stumps and Sky, A Forest Clearing).

Q: To what degree do you hope audiences come to this music with an understanding of its origins, and to what degree can that information exist as your compositional motivation, without necessarily being a programmatic element?

A: I have no expectations with regard to the listener coming to the music with any background knowledge. It is not necessary that one understands the inspiration in order to enjoy it. With that said, I’m happy to illuminate or motivate people to learn about the various subjects that have inspired my music.

Q: For Written in the Rocks, you explored evolution, the earth’s—and various species’— beginnings. Technology specialist Dino Rosati’s liner notes informed your writing for this album, specifically for “The Galapagos Suite.” Would you talk about finding inspirations for new projects and how you go about conceiving and developing music from there?

A: Picasso once said, “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” This is a true statement, although often the inspiration simply comes from within—with the music coming first: a short melodic phrase, a rhythmic motif or an unusual chord progression. The sounds themselves evoke a theme or a feeling that inspires a title.

Recently, I was commissioned by Aaron Schwebel, the artistic director of Echo Chamber Toronto, to compose a jazz chamber piece for string quartet, flute, and piano. It is part of a performance series that brings musicians and contemporary dancers together on stage in collaboration with each other, and the composition will be choreographed and performed later on this year. I have never worked with dancers before, and am really enjoying the challenge of composing with movement in mind.

Q: “Goodbye Mumbai” is autobiographical in nature. Would you share briefly how this tune came to be and how you approach playing it?

A: In 1994, I was very fortunate to have discovered by maternal biological family and consequently learned of my Punjabi heritage. In 1996, I released a recording entitled Ancestors (Blue Note Records), in which many of the pieces reflected that experience. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to visit India once, and my trip inspired this particular piece, which feels celebratory in nature. “Goodbye Mumbai” was composed with the hope that I’ll someday return.

Q: In recording Beloved of the Sky and Written in the Rocks, to what extent did you share the above-mentioned background information with the musicians with whom you recorded (and with whom you perform) the music?

A: I always share any stories or thoughts that might accompany my compositions with the band. Sometimes there is a direct musical outcome, such as at the beginning of “Galapagos.” You can hear a musical representation of ocean waves and bird calls during the introduction. Another example is in the piece “Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky.” The “cry of the tree’s heart” that Emily Carr spoke of is sonically depicted by the “tall” dissonant chords with which the piece begins and ends. To whatever ends an individual musician embraces the narrative as a part of their improvisational statement is a free choice.

Q: We think a lot around here about the artist’s role in society and what that looks like from one individual to the next. What are your thoughts on the subject?

A: On the face of the old Canadian $20 bill there used to be a quote—in very fine print—by author Gabrielle Roy. It read, “Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?” Art is necessary because it reflects society. It is an expression of who we are and where we’ve been and where we’re headed. It is an act of human liberation, inspired by the whole spectrum of human emotion. With regard to my work, I hope that people lose themselves in the listening and allow the sounds to take them to a place of spiritual fulfillment.

The Renee Rosnes Quartet will perform an Ellington Jazz Series concert on Friday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall. The performance will showcase music from Rosnes’ two most recent albums, Beloved of the Sky and Written in the Rocks.

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Published February 25, 2019
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Pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner ’20AD to perform Mozart concerto with Yale Philharmonia

Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner. Photo by Chris McGuire

On Friday, Feb. 22, artist-diploma candidate Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 with Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian and the Yale Philharmonia. We spoke with Sanchez-Werner about the concerto, studying with Boris Berman (the Sylvia and Leonard Marx Professor in the Practice of Piano), performing with an orchestra of his peers, and more.

Q: How did you settle on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 for this performance, and why?

A: Even among Mozart’s many magnificent piano concerti, this one stands out. One of only two in a minor key, K. 466 is in D minor, the same key as Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s The Art of Fugue, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Brahms’ First Piano Concerto. When one hears that D-minor tonality, it’s natural to think of tremendous gravity of spirit. The piece has a second movement titled “Romanze,” a rare marking for Mozart, and the way the third movement ends, a surprise turn to D major that leads to a conclusion of unbridled joy, is nothing short of miraculous.

Q: Mozart wasn’t too much older than you are now when he composed and premiered this piece. Does that offer you any kind of perspective or insight into the music?

A: While the movie Amadeus is a little over the top, it is absolutely right in one way: We know that Mozart was as dynamic, free, and uninhibited a character as any. His music is synonymous with larger-than-life drama, mercurial wit, boundless love, tragedy, and youthful idealism, and it is a fallacy of epic proportions that his music is merely “pretty” or “beautiful,” as it is so often labelled, with understandable reverence. His music speaks to someone my age as it would to someone of any age. It is relatable to all.

Q: This concerto was composed and received its premiere 234 years ago. Today, there are umpteen recordings of the piece. Why is important for people to hear it performed live and what would you want the audience to know before hearing you play it?

A: I am deeply excited to have written my own cadenzas for this concerto, my first time doing so. A compelling reason to hear this performance live is that you will hear something new! Mozart often didn’t have time (or need) to write down his cadenzas, frequently improvising them in performance, and this D minor is indeed one of those concerti without a cadenza in his hand. This leaves a grand opening for pianists to choose what cadenzas they will play—the most common choice is to play Beethoven’s, but occasionally you will hear those of Brahms, Clara Schumann, or Hummel. But improvising or writing your own cadenza is such a daunting, wondrous, and personal statement, and as Robert Levin would argue, the most true to capturing the Mozartian spirit.

Q: Tell us about working with Prof. Boris Berman on the concerto and in general. How has he informed your approach to music-making?

A: Studying with Boris Berman has been a revelation. His enlivening musical concepts, and his thorough and enriching method of instilling them, has already had an indelible impact on my artistry. He wants pianists to be as informed about all walks of life as we are capable on the keyboard. I have memories of his whisking me away to the clavichord in his studio when I played him Bach, of his showing me videos of Spanish dancing and telling me saucy tales of young romance when I played him Debussy, of his discussing orchestration to emulate brass and wind instruments when playing Stravinsky. Since he has himself performed this concerto, we have shared great joy working on it together.

Q: What are your thoughts about performing alongside your peers (members of the Yale Philharmonia)?

A: This is something I am truly looking forward to. I’ve only been at Yale for a few months, but my wonderful colleagues have already made it feel like a second home. I’m also presently performing piano-trio repertoire with the concertmaster (Kate Arndt ’19MM), so playing with her for this concerto will be fun. Another Yale “peer” in the audience will be my mom—she lived in Trumbull College as part of the Class of ’77, one of the first, pioneering classes in which Yale accepted women. She has always enjoyed watching me perform, but I have a feeling she’ll enjoy this concert in particular.

Q: Beyond learning and practicing the notes, what goes into your preparation when studying a new score? (Is this concerto new to you?)

A: While I have performed several other Mozart concerti before, this is my first time with the D minor. Regarding my process of learning new concerti, I have made the switch to doing all of my practicing with the full score from the get-go (rather than only consulting it while practicing from a two-piano reduction, as I did when I was younger). This allows me to internalize the orchestration much earlier and better emulate the articulations and tone colors of other instruments.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the role of the artist in society?

A: Art is a cooperative affair, and musicians can and have contributed to a bold history of social engagement. I take pride in attempting to carry on such traditions of using music as a means of breaking down cultural and political barriers. As an example, in a cross-­cultural exchange for peace on U.N. World Day for Cultural Diversity, I played with the fearless Iraqi National Symphony in Baghdad. Raising funds for the Children’s Cancer Hospital, we performed music by American, Iraqi, and European composers for an international audience of diplomats, Iraqis of all ages, and U.S. soldiers. My hope is that the simple, yet meaningful process of our warmhearted collaboration and musical communication (since music is our common language) deepened the bond between two cultures. I have done similar work in Rwanda, France, Canada, and the United States and seek to do much more.

Q: What have you been reading lately?

A: After re-reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, written by the ever-illuminating Doris Kearns Goodwin, I have recently turned to her autobiographical memoir, Wait Till Next Year, which tells the story of her upbringing through the lens of her family’s devotion to the Brooklyn Dodgers. This is why I was delighted to find out after a recital I gave last week in Chicago, that the subsequent event in that arts series would be a talk by her. I wish I could’ve stayed and met her! Books by great historians are a fascination of mine.

Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner will join Principal Conductor Peter Oundjian and the Yale Philharmonia on Friday, Feb. 22, for a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, on a program that also includes Kodály’s Dances of Galánta and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 in D major, Op. 60.

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Published February 19, 2019
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Pianist Roberto Prosseda, on making music in the 21st century

Roberto Prosseda

Pianist Roberto Prosseda will perform a program music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert on a Feb. 13 Horowitz Piano Series recital. We recently spoke with Mr. Prosseda about modern modes of communication, musical expression, and the repertoire he’ll perform here at Yale.

Q: You’ve found benefits in modern modes of communication and talked about the importance of direct, in-person experience. “Today we tend to live through too many filters: for many people it now comes more naturally to communicate their states of mind and everyday experiences through social networks, rather than by meeting a friend directly in person,” you’ve written. “Live music, both for those who play and those who listen, is an experience of far greater depth, able to open channels of communication that are profound and direct.” Would you talk about how we, as artists and audience members, should use the tools at our disposal and when we should put them down?

A: Tools such as the internet and smartphones are very useful also for musicians, of course. For example, we have the possibility to find rare scores online (also browsing the digital catalogues of several libraries), or to compare several recordings of the same piece using streaming services: they are invaluable resources that past generations could not use. But today there is a concrete risk that we become slaves to our smartphones and lose the ability to keep our concentration and to enjoy “real life”: a coffee with a friend is a much more rewarding experience than a Facebook chat with the same friend. In the same way, a live concert is not comparable with a CD, and a live piano lesson is something completely different from watching a master class on YouTube. To prevent the risk of being addicted to smartphones or social media, I suggest to my students some “digital detox” during practicing sessions, switching off the mobile phone and the computer, as we do when we attend a concert.

Q: Technology has been an area of interest to you. To that end, you conducted an experiment with a robot-pianist called Teo Tronico in which you each performed the same piece of music and studied the resulting performances. What did you learn about your own playing and interpretations in that exploration?

A: The project with the pianist robot, Teo Tronico, was conceived to explain the differences between a real “human” interpretation and a literal reading of the score. Comparing my own playing with the mechanical performances of the robot was a good way for me to become more aware of those differences, and to deepen the research towards the dramaturgic and poetical elements of music—something that a robot is not able to achieve, yet.

Q: You’ve written, “A cold and calculated performance in which the only aim is to avoid mistakes will prove much more ‘wrong’ than a spontaneous, profound and not faultless performance.” In what ways do you apply this lesson to your own practice and playing and how do you communicate this idea to students who might aspire to a kind of “performance perfection”?

A: The above mentioned robotic performances should never be a model for us, but nevertheless there are students who think that “perfection” consists in just playing the right notes, literally respecting what is written in the score. From my point of view, the priority in making music is the intensity, depth, and sincerity of our musical expression. “Reading the score” also means knowing all the historical conventions, the meaning of each gesture corresponding to the indications written in the score. A wrong note played with the “right expression” is much better than a right note played with a wrong expression. But, while the score indicates the right notes in an incontrovertible way, the “right expression” is something that also relates to our own sensitivity, culture, and even creativity. And the same sign on the score (a staccato dot, or a slur) can have different meanings according to the context. When we perform a composition, we are at the same time film directors, actors, and photographers. It is fundamental to be aware of states of mind, expressive attitudes, dramaturgy, and rhetoric. Often, during lessons, I like to talk about the “depth of field” between the theme and the accompaniment, about the “focus” of a given melodic contour, of the temporal and spatial distance of the themes. The piano is, in fact, also a time machine, as it can “set” a theme in the present, the past, or the future, also defining the context in which it appears (reality, dream, memory, hope, illusion).

Q: Many of your projects have included an interdisciplinary element. Have these been informed by your curiosities, a desire to offer audiences something unique, or both?

A: When Franz Liszt, about 180 years ago, invented the format of the “piano recital,” this was a great innovation, breaking the traditional schemes and improving the connections between artist and audience. But I am quite sure that if Liszt were performing today, he would not give a piano recital in the way we are used to. The piano recital still works perfectly for audiences who are used to listening to classical music (and I still give about 30 piano recitals per year for those audiences), but there are alternative ways to present classical music in live formats, which fit better for other kinds of audiences. As a performing artist, I feel a responsibility to deliver a social and cultural service also to “the rest of the world.” There are millions of people who use Facebook and YouTube but will never enter a classical music auditorium if first we don’t help them “taste” and discover the intensity of a live classical music concert. Using multimedia formats or video teasers online can be an effective way to reach a wider audience and to give them the tools to understand and enjoy classical music.

Q: What is it about Mendelssohn’s music that’s been of particular interest to you?

A: I’ve always felt a close affinity with Mendelssohn’s lyricism. His music expresses a very wide range of moods, always keeping a perfect balance between complexity and freedom. I very much like Mendelssohn’s ability to write complex musical textures, never losing his unique linearity and rhythmical energy that are trademarks of his style. Then, I have always felt a special attraction for the “musical discoveries”: the piano repertoire still presents many unknown masterworks, and Mendelssohn’s piano output is, incredibly, lesser known than the one of Schubert, Schumann, or Chopin. For this reason, about 20 years ago I started researching Mendelssohn’s rare and unpublished pieces and got more and more enthusiastic about his music. After my first two CDs dedicated to Mendelssohn’s unpublished piano works were released, I started performing and recording the rest of his piano production, as even some published works are still quite unknown to the public and are seldom recorded. In the meantime, more unpublished manuscripts came to light, and in 2009 Breitkopf & Härtel published the new Mendelssohn Thematic Catalogue (MWV) by Ralf Wehner, which is now the reference for any Mendelssohn scholar. In recent years I’ve gradually completed recordings of Mendelssohn’s piano works, now released by Decca in a 10-CD box set. Soon after the release, I learned about a new discovery: a “Kleine Fuge,” MWV U 96, which was found among the papers of Mrs. Henriette Voigt (dated September 18, 1833). Of course, I recorded it as well, and it was digitally released worldwide on February 1.

Q: The program you’ll perform here at Yale features repertoire that was written over a 50-year period, roughly. What did this period yield in terms of innovations in the piano repertoire and the instrument itself? What do you hear of the period and the region in this particular repertoire? 

A: Those 50 years have probably been the most intense ones in the history of piano. Between 1785 and 1835, in fact, composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Clementi, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt gave their contributions to the evolution of the piano and its repertoire. The instrument had a very fast and radical evolution: the keyboard range expanded from five octaves to seven octaves and more; the action also underwent drastic developments, as did the sound production, thanks to the increased tension of the strings and the different materials used for the hammers and the other parts of the instrument. The piano language evolved in a parallel way, as composers themselves pushed piano makers to experiment with new models, and at the same time the possibilities offered by the newly built pianos inspired the composers to innovate their own ways to write for piano. For my recital, I chose the three composers to whom I’ve dedicated most of my studies: Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert. The recital will open with two of the most revolutionary piano works written by Mozart: the Fantasia K. 475 and the Sonata K. 457 in C minor, published together as a diptych in 1785. Here, Mozart is very radical in using chromatic harmonies and experimenting with deep contrasts, which make this music incredibly dramatic and modern. After the Mozart I will continue with two of Mendelssohn’s masterworks: the Fantasia Op. 28 and the Rondo Capriccioso, along with some of my favorite Lieder ohne Worte. The concert will end with Schubert’s Four Impromptus Op. 90, written in the last year of his life (1828). The No. 1 in C minor has several elements in common with Mozart’s Fantasia K. 475. It will be interesting to compare the way Schubert uses similar harmonic and rhythmical patterns to reach completely new poetic results.

Roberto Prosseda will perform music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert on Wednesday, February 13, in Morse Recital Hall. 

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ROBERTO PROSSEDA

Published February 4, 2019
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