Yale in New York concert celebrates YSM’s guitar and composition programs

Ben Verdery

Benjamin Verdery

In programming Music for Guitars, an upcoming Yale in New York series concert at Carnegie Hall, faculty guitarist Benjamin Verdery reflected on a November 2010 program that featured music by a host of Yale-affiliated composers. That program, by design, celebrated the legacies of the School of Music’s composition and guitar programs.

Verdery also reflected, in curating the upcoming Yale in New York program, on inspiration he found, a little more than 10 years ago, at the Rhode Island School of Design. Verdery’s son was applying to the school, whose application requirements included drawing a bicycle or some element thereof. Accepted students’ illustrations were on view when Verdery brought his son to Providence to visit the school. “It was mind-bending,” Verdery said.

“I’m going to have my friends write a piece of music—just the notes, the pitches and the rhythms,” without tempo or dynamic indications, he decided. Since then, each year, prospective School of Music students applying to study with Verdery have been required to learn and perform, as part of their audition, a piece written by one of Verdery’s colleagues, along with other repertoire. Like RISD’s bicycle-drawing admissions requirement, the commissioned audition pieces leave room for interpretation, giving Verdery some insight into the ability and creativity of prospective students.

Those who have been commissioned by Verdery to compose audition pieces, over the course of the past decade, include former YSM Dean and Prof. of Music Ezra Laderman, faculty composers Martin Bresnick and Christopher Theofanidis; Lecturer in Electronic Music Jack Vees; YSM alumni Bryce Dessner, James Moore, and Brendon Randall-Myers; Yale University Department of Music Prof. Kathryn Alexander; and current composition student Tanner Porter, among others. Audition pieces by the above-mentioned musicians will be showcased as part of Music for Guitars, the third and final concert in the 2018-2019 Yale in New York series. The concert will feature Verdery and current School of Music students and alumni, including René Izquierdo.

The program also includes works by Hindemith (who taught at the School of Music), Mudarra, and Terry Riley; arrangements of music by Bach, Scarlatti, and Schubert; and world premieres of James Moore’s Turning and Verdery’s arrangement, for guitar and string quartet, of Bernstein’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. Izquierdo will perform Turning, which was this year’s YSM guitar audition piece. Verdery will perform the Bernstein with violinists Kate Arndt and Gregory Lewis, violist Marta Lambert, and cellist Guilherme Monegatto-all current YSM students.

The repertoire for the program reaches back to 16th century composer Alonso Mudarra’s fantasias for vihuela—which will be played on an instrument from the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments—and visits music composed since then and up to the present. The program also taps into the arranging chops of the guitarists who’ll be performing. It’s something “all of us in the world of guitar do,” Verdery said.

“There’s a lot of color and expression of what the guitar is,” Verdery said of the program. There will also be a lot of virtuosity on display—and, like the 2010 program, of which it’s a musical extension, many connections to the School of Music.

The School of Music’s Yale in New York series presents Music for Guitars on Friday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m., at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. A preview concert is scheduled for Thursday, March 28, at 4:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall. Admission to the preview concert is free.


Published March 20, 2019
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[ concerts ]

René Izquierdo and Elina Chekan, guitars, perform at Yale Extravaganza Feb. 22

René Izquierdo and Elina Chekan

René Izquierdo and Elina Chekan

The Yale School of Music’s Guitar Extravaganza presents a concert by the classical guitar duo of René Izquierdo and Elina Chekan on Saturday, February 22nd at 5:30 pm. The performance takes place in Morse Recital Hall, located in Sprague Hall at 470 College Street.

Both performers are graduates of the Yale School of Music who now teach at the University of Wisconsin. Belarus-born Elina Chekan combines active performance and a teaching career, appearing as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and abroad. Argentinean composer Jorge Morel dedicated his composition “Campañas” to her. René Izquierdo is a winner of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Competition in 2004, Extremadura International Guitar Competition, Schadt String competition, and the Stotsenberg International Guitar Competition, among others.


Published February 17, 2014
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[ events ]

Guitar Extravaganza celebrates tradition and innovation Feb. 22

David Tanenbaum

David Tanenbaum

Guitar Extravaganza 2014: Tradition and Innovation will take place Saturday, February 22, 2014. This is the eighth Yale Guitar Extravaganza, an event presented every 2–3 years that offers a daylong immersion in all things guitar. This season’s events features concerts, workshops, demonstrations, and more.

Concert artists include David Tanenbaum, René Izquierdo, Elina Chekan, and Van Stiefel, all of whom are alumni of the Yale School of Music. Panel discussions and workshops cover topics from education to composition, from early guitars to the electric guitar. Benjamin Verdery, the head of guitar at YSM, is the director of the Guitar Extravaganza.

René Izquierdo and Elina Chekan

René Izquierdo and Elina Chekan

David Tanenbaum will perform a concert of American music at 8 pm. He will be joined by four YSM string players in 100 Greatest Dance Hits by faculty composer Aaron Jay Kernis. The duo of René Izquierdo and Elina Chekan will give a joint concert at 5:30 pm. Van Stiefel will play music for electric guitar at 2 pm. MORE

Published December 23, 2013
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