Prizes awarded at annual Honors Banquet

Dean Robert Blocker

On Sunday, May 6, YSM Dean Robert Blocker told graduating students that he looks forward to hearing their music in venues around the world. The occasion was the School’s annual Honors Banquet, which was held this year at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale. Attendees included students and alumni, faculty and staff, YSM board members Mary Beth Buck, Walter Buck, and Stephanie Yu Lim, and emeritus staff and faculty members Rosemary Gould, Gene Kimball, Judy Long, and Mary-Jo Warren. Aimlee Laderman, whose late husband Ezra Laderman was a longtime member of the School’s composition faculty and from 1989 to 1995 served as Dean, was also in attendance.

Blocker announced that the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award would be presented at Commencement, as this year’s recipient, composer Lori Laitman ’76MM, was unable to attend the Honors Banquet, at which the award is traditionally conferred. Blocker congratulated students who won or placed at competitions this year and acknowledged YSM’s Music in Schools Initiative, whose leadership — Director Rubén Rodríguez ’11MM, Associate Dean Michael Yaffe, and Yaffe’s assistant, Rachel Glodo — was recognized by the University in April with an Ivy Award for the work the program does at Yale and in the New Haven community. “Yale has no finer community engagement program than Music in Schools,” Blocker said.

At the end of the night, Blocker expressed his gratitude to students, faculty, and staff for a wonderful year. “As one who at different moments has been touched by your talent and compassion,” he said, “I want to thank you on behalf of a wider audience.”

The following student prizes were presented during the Honors Banquet.

Brass and Woodwinds

The Thomas Daniel Nyfenger Memorial Prize, which is awarded to a graduating student who has demonstrated the highest standard of excellence in woodwind playing, was presented to oboist Lauren Williams. The John Swallow Prize, which is given to an outstanding brass player whose artistry and dedication have contributed to the department, was awarded to trombonist Zachary Haas.

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Director of Choral Conducting Marguerite Brooks, Joseph Kemper, and Professor of Choral Conducting Jeffrey Douma

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Director of Choral Conducting Marguerite Brooks, Joseph Kemper, and Professor of Choral Conducting Jeffrey Douma

Choral Conducting

The inaugural Robert Shaw Prize, given in honor of the renowned American choral conductor and awarded to a choral conducting major in the School of Music chosen by the choral conducting faculty for distinguished achievement, was presented to Joseph Kemper.


The Woods Chandler Memorial Prize for the best composition in a larger form written during the year was awarded to Krists Auznieks. The Rena Greenwald Memorial Prize for the best piano composition written during the year went to Alishan Gezgin. The John Day Jackson Prize for outstanding chamber music compositions written for strings with or without other instruments was presented to Fjóla Evans. The Frances E. Osborne Kellogg Memorial Prize for the best composition written in a contrapuntal style was given to Liliya Ugay. And the Ezra Laderman Prize for the best compositions written for musical theater or voice was awarded to Sophie Cash-Goldwasser and Eli Greenhoe.

Dean Robert Blocker, Sophie Cash-Goldwasser, Eli Greenhoe, and Professor of Composition Martin Bresnick

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Sophie Cash-Goldwasser, Eli Greenhoe, and Professor of Composition Martin Bresnick


The Eliot Fisk Prize, which is given to an outstanding guitarist whose artistic achievement and dedication have contributed greatly to the department, was awarded to Gunnlaugur Björnsson.


The Charles Ives Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding organ major, went to Diana Chou. The Julia R. Sherman Memorial Prize for excellence in organ playing was awarded to Matthew Daley.


The Charles S. Miller Prize, which is given to a gifted pianist who has done outstanding work during the first year of study, was awarded to Gabriele Strata. The Elizabeth Parisot Prize, which goes to outstanding pianists in the School of Music, was awarded to Dong Won Lee and Yannick Van de Velde.


The Georgina Lucy Grosvenor Memorial Prize, which is awarded to the violist in the graduating class whose performances while at Yale have exhibited the highest potential for success as a soloist or chamber musician in the field, was given to Julia Clancy. The Aldo Parisot Prize, which is awarded to gifted cellists who show promise for a concert career, was presented to Samuel DeCaprio and Bitnalee Pong. The Broadus Erle Prize, which is given to outstanding violinists in the School of Music, went to Laura Park, Alyssa Blackstone, and Dhyani Heath.


The David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize, which is awarded to an outstanding singer in the School of Music, went to Stephen Clark. The Smriti Deb Memorial Prize, which is given to an outstanding graduating singer who best reflects and exemplifies the ideals and values of Smriti Deb and her commitment to teaching low-income and underrepresented children, was awarded to Sylvia D’Eramo. And the Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize, whose purpose is to assist in launching the career of a graduating voice student who demonstrates exceptional talent as an artist and promise for professional success, was awarded to Bryan Murray.

Doctor of Musical Arts

The Friedmann Thesis Prize, which is awarded to a DMA candidate whose thesis is notable for its distinguished research, original perspective, in-depth engagement with its subject, and well-crafted presentation, was presented to composer Krists Auznieks.

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, Sophiko Simsive, Leo Sussman, Scott Leger, Liliya Ugay, Director of Admissions and Alumni Affairs Donna You, Bora Kim, Sarah Saturnino, and James Simon Lee

Left to right: Dean Robert Blocker, Deputy Dean Melvin Chen, Sophiko Simsive, Leo Sussman, Scott Leger, Liliya Ugay, Director of Admissions and Alumni Affairs Donna Yoo, Bora Kim, Sarah Saturnino, and James Simon Lee


The Malcolm L. Mitchell and Donald M. Roberts, Class of 1957 Prize, which is given to an outstanding graduating teaching artist in the Music in Schools Initiative, was awarded to flutist Helen Hye Jin Park. The Philip Francis Nelson Prize, which is awarded to a graduating student whose musicianship is outstanding and who demonstrates curiosity, talent, and the entrepreneurial spirit in the many dimensions of the music profession, was presented to violist Florrie Marshall. The Presser Foundation Music Award, which is awarded to an outstanding returning student to advance his or her music education, went to Shawn Hutchison. And the Yale School of Music Alumni Association Prize, which is awarded to graduating students who have not only excelled in their respective fields but have also made important contributions to the general life of the School, was presented to clarinetist Graeme Johnson, violinist Bora Kim, choral conductor James Simon Lee, hornist Scott Leger, mezzo-soprano Sarah Saturnino, pianist Sophiko Simsive, flutist Leo Sussman, and composer Liliya Ugay.

Photos by Harold Shapiro.

Published May 8, 2018
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[ students & alumni ]

Henry Kramer receives Foote Award from Harvard Musical Association

kramer_henry_webThe Harvard Musical Association has selected pianist Henry Kramer ’13 AD, ’15 MMA to receive the prestigious Foote Prize. The Arthur W. Foote Prize is awarded to performer(s) of the highest musical caliber of university or conservatory level who are about to launch professional music careers.

Arthur W. Foote was a longtime, enthusiastic member of the Harvard Musical Association. He taught, composed, performed and lived close by the Association’s building on Beacon Hill. In honor of Foote’s musical legacy, the Harvard Musical Association each year bestows the Arthur W. Foote Award. This prize is used to honor a young artist or ensemble currently studying on the East Coast, and to bring such musicians to perform on the Association’s stage. MORE

Published January 2, 2014
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Esther Park ’12AD, ’13MMA wins International Russian Music Competition

park_estherPianist Esther Park ’12AD, ’13MMA won first prize and the audience prize in the International Russian Music Competition. The final round of the competition took place Saturday, June 15 in San Jose, California.

The Russian Music Competition, created in the spring of 2000, was founded by Dr. Irina Prilipko-Morgan and Dan Morgan. In its current format, a jury of seven members not only judges the performances but gives master classes and presents lectures to the young pianists during the ten-day competition period. The competition itself has three rounds; the first two focus on solo music, and the third round includes a performance of a trio for piano, violin, and cello. MORE

Published June 17, 2013
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Christian Lane ’08MM wins Canadian International Organ Competition

Christian Lane, a graduate of the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, won the Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC) this past weekend. The CIOC, which was held in Montreal, is the only international organ competition in the Americas in 2011.

In the finals, Lane and the other four finalists each played a 60-minute recital, the repertoire for which was left to their discretion – with the exception of the compulsory piece, Liszt’s Variations on Weinen, Klagen Sorgen, Zagen.

The competitors vied for a total of $72,000 in prizes, with a First Prize of $30,000. The prizes were awarded by an international jury. Lane’s prize will also include a three-year management contract with Karen McFarlane Artists, a CD recording with ATMA Classique, and career management and coaching from the CIOC.  MORE

Published October 21, 2011
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Yoshi Onishi ’07MM, ’08AD wins Gaudeamus Prize

Photo by David Adamcyk

Composition alumnus Yoshiaki Onishi ’07MM, ’08AD won the 2011 Gaudeamus Prize, it was announced yesterday. The prestigious prize was awarded after the closing concert of the Gaudeamus Music Week at Museum Speelklok in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The international jury unanimously selected Onishi, born 1981 in Japan, from the thirteen nominees. The prize was awarded by Aleid Wolfsen, the mayor of Utrecht. The jury consisted of Tadeusz Wielecki (Poland), Miguel Azguime (Portugal) and Rozalie Hirs (The Netherlands).

“Winning the prize was the last thing I was expecting at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek,” wrote Onishi in an email. “I was focused on a fruitful collaboration with the Nieuw Ensemble, which played my piece with vitality and intellect. With thirteen nominees and their thirteen completely different stylistic traits, I thought anybody could win. Hearing my name announced at the award ceremony seemed almost too surreal.”

He continued, “Nobody knows what a prize may bring to his/her life. But in accepting this prize, I feel that I am given a reminder and a huge responsibility to fulfill in the coming years. That is, I must keep learning, improve my métiers as a musician, and become a better person.”

The Gaudeamus Music Week, an international festival for new music, is a meeting place for numerous young composers. 385 compositions from over thirty countries were submitted for consideration; thirteen compositions were nominated for the prize and were performed during the festival. Onishi’s Départ dans… was performed last Friday night by the Nieuw Ensemble. 

Two years ago, YSM alum Ted Hearne ’09MMA won the 2009 Gaudeamus Prize for selected movements from his piece Katrina Ballads.

The jury stated that Onishi

“is a master of the material, and also continuously shows the ‘drive’ to really make music. The winning piece was written from a strong, creative driving force. In his work he created his own world with its own rules and sounds, a seemingly inescapable form with an extraordinary musical interaction between the musicians. The jury is looking forward to discover how this remarkable talent will develop.” MORE

Published September 12, 2011
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Hermelindo Ruiz ’12MM wins prize in Curso de Música de Santiago de Compostela

Hermelindo Ruiz ’12MM was awarded the Andrés Segovia–José Miguel Ruiz Morales Prize at the Curso de Música de Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Ruiz was selected and invited by the organizers to take part in a two-week course entitled “Sinfonismo y Música actual” (Symphonism and Actual Music) with composer Anton Garcia Abril and orchestral conductor Maximino Zumalave. Students focused on Spanish repertoire for the orchestra and on writing their own orchestral pieces.

The Curso de Música de Santiago de Compostela was created by guitarist Andres Segovia and Spanish diplomat José Miguel Ruiz Morales.

Hermelindo Ruiz was announced as the winner of the annual Andrés Segovia–José Miguel Ruiz Morales Prize during the final convocation of the course. Ruiz said the prize is particular important to him as it “exemplifies the relevance on the dual career that I  currently pursue as both a guitarist and composer.”

Hermelindo Ruiz, a 23-year-old guitarist and composer from Puerto Rico, is the youngest recipient in history to receive the Angel Mislán Prize for promoting excellence in Puerto Rican music and culture. He has also been awarded the Governor’s Medal and numerous other prizes. His compositions for the classical guitar have been performed in Spain, Slovenia, Portugal, Mexico, Guatemala, and the United States. MORE

Published August 22, 2011
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Duo Atapine-Park Wins Second Prize at Vittorio Gui Competition

On February 19th, 2011 cellist Dmitri Atapine (’10 DMA, ’06 AD, ’05 MMA) and pianist Adela Hyeyeon Park (’05 MM, ’06 AD) received the Second Prize at the prestigious Premio Vittorio Gui International Chamber Music Competition in Florence, Italy. The event is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.

The Duo Atapine-Park competed with over 40 ensembles comprising duos, trios, string quartets, and piano quintets from all over the globe.  In the competition’s three rounds, they performed works by Beethoven, Barber, Jalbert, Martinu, Stravinsky, and Rachmaninoff. The Duo’s final appearance at the Winners Concert was broadcast from the Teatro del Maggio Fiorentino on the RAI Radio Italia.

Dr. Atapine and Ms. Park have been playing together as a duo since they started their studies in 2003 at the Yale School of Music, where they were mentored by Aldo Parisot and Peter Frankl, respectively. Since then, they have performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia. In the fall of 2009 the duo released a CD on the Urtext Digital label distributed by Naxos, and just a few weeks ago their performance at the Chicago Cultural Center was broadcast live on WFMT.

Dr. Atapine is currently the cello professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and Ms. Park is a doctoral candidate at the Peabody Conservatory, where she studies with Yong Hi Moon.

Ms. Park will be featured in the New Music New Haven concert on March 24th, when she will perform Ezra Laderman’s Piano Sonata No. 2.

For more information, please visit

Published February 22, 2011
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Mingzhu Wang ’07MM wins flute division of Città di Chieri Competition

Flutist Mingzhu Wang ’07MM has been in Zurich, Switzerland, since February, furthering her musical studies at Zürcher Hochschule der Künste with Prof. Phillipe Racine. On November 5, she won the fst prize in the flute division of the Tenth International Città di Chieri Music Competition for Young Performers.

The picture at left was taken at the winner’s concert on November 7.

Flutist Mingzhu Wang is an experienced orchestral player, chamber musician and soloist. Born in Chengdu, China, Miss Wang grew up in a musical family. At age 10 she switched from piano to flute and began her studies with Hongjun Zhang. In 2001, Miss Wang enrolled in the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, winning first place in the entrance examination. In July of 2005 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree, winning the conservatory’s most prestigious scholarship every academic year. While a student at the conservatory, Miss Wang won first place in the First National Flute Competition for Collegiate Artists. She received a Master of Music in flute performance from Yale in May 2007.

Published November 18, 2010
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Joseph Mikolaj ’10MM wins the Solo Competition of the Oratorio Society of New York

Joseph Mikolaj, a student of James Taylor at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and the Yale School of Music, took first prize at the New York Oratorio Society’s Lyndon Woodside Solo Competition on April 10. Mikolaj, a tenor, performed selections from Haydn’s Creation and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.

In 1975, the Oratorio Society of New York inaugurated an annual Solo Competition, designed to encourage the art of oratorio singing and to give talented young singers an opportunity to advance their careers. The Competition has become international in scope, and well-known in the music world.

Since the Competition’s inception, more than 3,400 singers have competed.  The judges have chosen nearly 100 winners, awarding thousands of dollars in cash prizes. In addition, over 65 performance contracts have been awarded to Competition winners to appear in concert with the Society; many have also been awarded contracts with other major musical organizations.

The Lyndon Woodside Solo Competition is held in New York City every year during March and April. More than $15,000 in cash prizes are awarded, along with possible contracts for oratorio performances in New York City. The Solo Competition is open to singers of all nationalities who were born after December 31, 1969 and who have not made a formal oratorio debut in a major concert hall. Mikolaj was the youngest musician to compete in this year’s event.

Published April 15, 2010
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Alumni success in San Antonio International Piano Competition


Ryo Yanagitani ’04MM, ’05AD, ’08MMA and Andrea Lam ’04AD won major prizes in the Tenth San Antonio International Piano Competition. Yanagitani won the Gold Medal – the competition’s top prize – and Lam won the Silver Medal. In addition, Yanagitani was awarded prizes for the best performance of a Romantic work and of a work by a Latin American composer, as well as the prize of the junior jury. Lam was awarded prizes for the best performance of a Classical composition and best performance of a Russian work.

As the gold medal winner, Yanagitani will appear in performances with the San Antonio Symphony, St. Mark’s Music Series, and Symphony of the Hills (Kerrville).

The San Antonio International Piano Competition is a non-profit organization formed in 1983. Once every three years, it presents a unique series of events, held over a one-week period, featuring some of the finest young rising pianists to be found in the world of music. MORE

Published October 23, 2009
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