Rolston, Brentano quartet members talk about mentee-mentor relationship

Rolston String Quartet

Since September 2017, the Rolston String Quartet, a group that was coached at the 2016 Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival by the likes of the Brentano and Emerson string quartets before winning that year’s prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition, has been the Yale School of Music’s fellowship quartet-in-residence. The opportunity to be mentored by the Brentano String Quartet, YSM’s quartet-in-residence, and to mentor undergraduates studying at the University’s Department of Music, while maintaining an active performance schedule, has been fruitful.

Rolston cellist Jonathan Lo pointed to collaborations with such distinguished School of Music faculty members as composer Hannah Lash, clarinetist David Shifrin, and flutist Ransom Wilson as invaluable opportunities. Of the Brentanos, Lo said, “They have been some of our foremost musical inspirations.” He described the Brentanos as “incredible musicians,” quick to share his appreciation for the chance “to be able to play for musicians of their caliber … one of the finest quartets in the world.”

Brentano violinist Mark Steinberg talked about the freedom YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence has at YSM to discover itself. “We give them regular coaching,” Steinberg said, “but we don’t overwhelm them.” The world doesn’t simply need more quartets, he said, but “we’re in a world that needs a string quartet with something urgent to say.”

Brentano String Quartet

Brentano String Quartet

Ideas are in plentiful supply at Yale, and “the University as a whole is open to (the Rolstons),” Steinberg said. “Everything that’s going on is fodder for your own thinking. The resources at Yale are incredible that way. It’s a really fertile place.”

The Rolstons’ residence, which ends in May 2019, has allowed them to pass some of their shared experience on to other, younger musicians. “For us to be able to work with the undergraduate students,” and to gain teaching experience, “is very invigorating for us,” Lo said. “Any serious ensemble should consider the (fellowship) program, because it offers a great balance of resources and input. It’s been everything that we could have hoped for.” 

 

ROLSTON STRING QUARTET

BRENTANO STRING QUARTET

Published September 7, 2018
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Cellist Aldo Parisot retires after 60 years at YSM

Aldo Parisot

For 60 years, cellists from around the world have come to the Yale School of Music to study with Aldo Parisot, a legendary figure in the field by any standard and an inimitable presence in our studios and concert halls. Today, we celebrate and honor a teacher, a colleague, and a friend for his decades of service to our students, to our School, and to music. At 99, Parisot’s retirement from teaching in June 2018 is a momentous occasion that merits reflection.

“The presence of Aldo Parisot in the School of Music has been transformative and transcendent,” YSM Dean Robert Blocker said. “His strongly held opinions about artistic excellence have led generations of faculty and students to carefully consider their points of view about music making, but with his rigorous intonements came a palpable love for the beauty of music and what it means to our lives.”

Parisot’s passion for teaching has been infectious. He is one of the rare musicians who has loved teaching as much as he has loved playing. In 1958, he joined the faculty at the Yale School of Music. In 1983, Parisot founded the Yale Cellos, an ensemble that has earned international acclaim for its rich sound, stunning virtuosity, beloved recordings, and numerous additions to the cello-ensemble literature. In 1988, Parisot closed out a remarkable performing career and dedicated himself fully to teaching. He was named the Samuel Sanford Professor of Music at Yale in 1994, and, in 2002, received the Gustave Stoeckel Award, the Yale School of Music’s most prestigious honor.

Throughout his career, Parisot viewed his students as family. “I have a great, great joy in teaching these people,” he said in 2017. “Those are my children … I see in them me, when (I) was young, and I want to see them succeed. I am very severe, because I care about them. I tell my students, ‘Your future depends on you. You’ve got to believe in yourself. You can do it. But only youcan do it. I can only help you.”

As a teacher, Parisot said he learned, over time, what worked and what did not. With his students, he emphasized a relaxed physical technique and freedom from tension as the basis of music-making. He didn’t want his students to imitate him as a player; instead he encouraged them to be themselves.

As he said to Ralph Kirshbaum ’68BA, one of his most well-known students, in an interview with The Strad, “I learn from my own students. Every day they surprise me. They come and do something, and I think, ‘Why didn’t I do that before? I never thought about that.’”

Parisot has long been known as a generous, passionate, forthright, and rigorous mentor. In addition to Kirshbaum, his former students include Jian Wang, Roman Jablonsky, Shauna Rolston, and Carter Brey. Parisot has called his students’ successes “an incredible pleasure.” He has taken a great interest in them as individuals and encouraged them to develop their own personalities, onstage and off. “I try to make students believe in themselves,” he said, “and that includes without the cello.”

Cellists around the world have made pilgrimages to his master classes. János Starker, Parisot’s friend of many years and a distinguished cello teacher at Indiana University, once described Parisot as “the best cello teacher I have met in my life.”

As a performer, Parisot was renowned for his virtuosic playing, beautiful sound, and astonishing technique. He performed on stages throughout the world, both as a recitalist and as a soloist with major orchestras, under the batons of such eminent conductors as Stokowski, Barbirolli, Bernstein, Mehta, Monteaux, and others.

Parisot was driven to expand the cello repertoire, premiering numerous works for the instrument — several of which were written for him. Reacting to his 1966 premiere of Donald Martino’s Parisonatina al’Dodecafonia, composed for and dedicated to him, The Boston Globedeclared, “There is probably no cellist that can equal Parisot’s dazzling achievement.” The New York Timesweighed in, saying, “Those at this performance are not going to forget [Parisot’s] feat overnight.” Parisot’s virtuosity had its beginnings in his native Brazil, where he learned from his stepfather, cellist Tomazzo Babini.

“When I heard his beautiful sound, I showed the desire to play immediately,” Parisot told Kirshbaum. “But before he would give me my first lesson he taught me solfège for two years, I didn’t play the cello until I was 7.” Parisot credits Babini—the only cello teacher he ever had—with instilling in him the technique that enabled him to grow into a virtuoso.

Parisot made his debut with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra at age 12. When he was 18, he became the ensemble’s principal cellist. It was in Rio de Janiero that he came to the attention of an American attaché to the Brazilian embassy, Carleton Sprague Smith. Impressed with Parisot’s virtuosity, Smith offered to help him study abroad. Parisot was eager to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Emanuel Feuermann, who died before Parisot was scheduled to leave Brazil. Parisot’s plans changed, and, with Smith’s help, he secured a scholarship to study at the Yale School of Music, an offer he accepted on the condition that he would not have to take any cello lessons.

Parisot arrived at Yale in 1946 as a “special student.” He studied chamber music and, with composer Paul Hindemith, music theory. In 1948, he auditioned for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with which he played professionally for two years. But the orchestra life was not for him, and he longed to have a solo career. In 1950, he gave his debut recital at Town Hall in New York City, launching a celebrated international career that produced recordings for RCA Victor, Angel, Westminster, and Phonodisc.

His artistry has not been limited to the performing arts. Parisot has produced a significant number of paintings, describing his process as “painting by ear.” His visual art works exude his love for color and texture and in that way are reminiscent of his cello playing. Many of his works have been exhibited in concert halls and galleries around the world. He has given away many of his paintings, selling them at Yale Cellos concerts and other special events, donating the proceeds to a travel fund that he founded for Yale School of Music students.

Parisot’s contributions to the field are immeasurable and will inform the practice of countless cellists in generations to come. Perhaps his most important gift to the art form is that he did not teach his students to play like him, but, rather, encouraged each of them to discover their own voice. “There are many people who imitate their teacher,” he said. “I hate the idea that there’s someone in the world who sounds like a little Aldo Parisot. You’ve got to be yourself. We’ve all got to find our own way.”

Aldo Parisot, the Cellist: The Importance of the Circle, a biography written by Susan Hawkshaw, was published in 2018 by Pendragon Press.

 

Published July 19, 2018
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YSM Alumni News | July 2018

Samuel Adams

Composer Samuel Adams ’10MM had a new chamber concerto premiered by violinist Karen Gomyo and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His Movements (for us and them) will be performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra on tours of Australia and the United States this summer.

Guitarist Trevor Babb ’12MM ’14MMA was appointed adjunct artist in guitar at Vassar College and will begin that role in the fall.

Hornist Luke Baker ’18MM, bassoonist Matthew Gregoire ’17MM, and double bassist Kaden Henderson ’17MM ’18MMA will join The Orchestra Now at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season.

Composer, pianist, and organist Calvin Bowman ’99MMA ’05DMA was signed to Decca/Universal Music Australia, which will release a recording of his songs called Real and Right and True in July.

Sarah Boxmeyer ’16MM won the position of associate principal/third horn of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra. Boxmeyer played with the orchestra for much of the 2017-2018 season and will begin her first full season in September.

Conductor John Concklin ’08MM received a one-year appointment as associate professor of conducting at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University.

Kevin Dombrowski ’14MM won the position of second trombonist of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and will begin playing with the orchestra in October.

Percussionist Timothy Feeney ’01MM ’02MMA ’07DMA was appointed to a full-time faculty position as a percussion artist at the Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts.

Timothy Gocklin ’14MM ’15AD was appointed artist-in-residence in oboe at the University of Northern Colorado.

Romie de Guise-Langlois

Romie de Guise-Langlois ’06MM ’07AD was appointed assistant professor of clarinet at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Violinist Ethan Hoppe ’16MM ’18MMA will join the New World Symphony for the 2018-2019 season.

Guitarist Sharon Isbin ’78BA ’79MM is serving as director of classical guitar at the Aspen Music Festival this summer, teaching, giving master classes, and performing.

Organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM AD recently joined the Philadelphia Orchestra on its tour of Europe and Israel. Jacobs’ recent solo engagements also include performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra.

Conductor Farkhad Khudyev ’10MM, the third prize-winner at the eighth annual Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition in 2017, received a 2018 Solti Foundation Career Assistance Award.

Pianist Henry Kramer ’13AD ’19DMA was named the L. Rexford Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano at the Joyce and Henry Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University.

Violinist Cheuk Yin Luu ’18MM won a position in the first violin section of the Buffalo Philharmonic and will begin playing with the orchestra in September.

Missy Mazzoli ’06MM was named the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s new Mead Composer-in-Residence. Music Director Riccardo Muti appointed Mazzoli to a two-year term.

Bassoonist Marissa Olegario ’15MM was appointed assistant professor of music at the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music for the 2018-2019 academic year. Olegario will teach bassoon and perform in the Arizona Wind Quintet, a faculty ensemble.

Choral conductor Sarah Paquet ’16MM was appointed assistant director of choral activities and lecturer in music in the Smith College Music Department and will begin in the fall.

Trombonist Matthew Russo ’12MM joined the S. E. Shires Company’s artist roster.

Kate Sheeran

Hornist Kate Sheeran ’04MM was named executive director of the Kaufman Music Center, effective in August 2018. Sheeran previously served as provost and dean at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

James Austin Smith ’08MM joined the faculty at Stony Brook University as interim visiting artist-in-residence of oboe.

Flutist Leo Sussman ’18MM will join Ensemble Connect in September.

Guitarist An T. Tran ’16MM was awarded first prize at the University of Rhode Island’s Rising Stars Competition.

Pianist Yevgeny Yontov ’14MM ’20DMA was appointed to a one-year assistant professorship as instructor of piano in the College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University. Yontov will begin in mid-August and will teach piano and collaborative piano and coach chamber music.

Pianist Joon Yoon ’16MM was awarded the Guildhall School’s (London) Gold Medal, the school’s most prestigious prize for outstanding soloists.

Published July 9, 2018
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Emily Kruspe Joins Rolston String Quartet

Emily Kruspe

We spoke recently with violinist Emily Kruspe about joining YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, the Rolston String Quartet, whose other three members have been working together for five years. Kruspe succeeds violinist Jeffrey Dyrda, who left the quartet to pursue new career opportunities.

“I’ve played a lot with professional ensembles, but never with a group so specialized as a quartet,” Kruspe said. “The other three have been playing together since 2013, and pretty much exclusively with each other, so they are extremely aware and good at reading each other’s body language, among many other things. The challenge for me is fitting in enough so as not to disrupt what has already been so well established, yet to have my own personality and voice in the group. In our rehearsals, there is actually a lot of discussion and demonstration. Not everything can be picked up by listening and imitation—ideas must be translated in other forms.”

Kruspe discussed the challenges of learning repertoire that the rest of the ensemble already knows. “Up until very recently, I have been playing pieces the quartet has rehearsed, been coached on, and performed,” Kruspe said. “To fit into an established interpretation of a work that has already been meticulously analyzed is difficult, but very rewarding. I am using parts of my brain I have never exercised before! What makes a lot of the challenging stuff easier is that these three musicians are among the easiest people to play with. They are very accommodating and clear, and it simplifies a lot for me.”

Kruspe also spoke about the opportunity to be mentored by the Brentano String Quartet, YSM’s quartet-in-residence. “Working with the Brentano Quartet—what can I say—I feel extremely fortunate. They are among the best quartets in the world, and are such wonderful people. I am so looking forward to working with and learning from them.”

ROLSTON STRING QUARTET

BRENTANO STRING QUARTET

Published June 21, 2018
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YSM Student News | June 2018

Ji Su Jung

NeoArctic, a large-scale multimedia work by composer Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’22DMA, was staged at the Southbank Center in London, in May.

Composers Ethan Braun ’21DMA and Liliya Ugay ’16MM ’22DMA have been named 2018 CULTIVATE fellows and are currently participating in the emerging composers institute at Copland House, in Cortlandt Manor, NY.

Tubist Jake Fewx ’18MM ’19MMA will compete in August as a semifinalist in the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival competition, in Twin Lake, Mich.

Percussionist Ji Su Jung ’19MM won the Houston Symphony’s Ima Hogg Competition in early June. In addition to receiving the Grace Woodson Memorial Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize, Jung took home the Herman Shoss Audience Choice Award. As the winner of the competition, Jung will perform in July as a soloist with the Houston Symphony.

Flutist Benjamin Morency ’18MM won the Boston Woodwind Society’s Doriot Anthony Dwyer Merit Award Competition in April.

The New York Times described composer Peter S. Shin ’20MMA as “a composer to watch” in “The Week in Classical Music,” which includes a review of the premiere of his orchestral piece Slant.

Violist Marlea Simpson’19MM has earned a tenured position in the Grant Park Orchestra, in Chicago, Ill.

Published June 6, 2018
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YSM Alumni News | May 2018

Pianist Tanya Bannister CERT was named president of the Concert Artists Guild. She succeeds Richard S. Weinert, who plans to retire in June after 18 years at the organization.

Violinist Qi Cao ’10MM won a position with the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra and will join the ensemble in September 2018. Cao has been a member of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for five years.

The Jasper String Quartet. Photo by Dario Acosta

The Jasper String Quartet, which includes violinists John Freivogel ’10AD and Sae Chonabayashi, violist Sam Quintal ’10AD, and cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel ’10AD, had their album Unbound named one of The New York Times’ “Top 25 Classical Albums of 2017.” The recording includes works by YSM alumni Judd Greenstein ’04MM, Caroline Shaw ’07MM, Missy Mazzoli ’06MM, Ted Hearne ’08MM ’09MMA ’14DMA, and David Lang ’83MMA ’89DMA and was released on the Sono Luminus and New Amsterdam labels.

Composers Michael Gilbertson ’13MM ’21DMA and Ted Hearne ’08MM ’09MMA ’14DMA were named co-finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Gilbertson was nominated for his work Quartet, which was commissioned by the Verona Quartet, Concert Artists Guild, and BMI Foundation, and Hearne was nominated for his work Sound from the Bench, which was commissioned by Volti and The Crossing.

Darren Hicks

Darren Hicks ’14MM was appointed associate principal bassoonist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Hicks has been a fellow at the New World Symphony, in Miami Beach, Fla., for the past three years.

Alumna Molly Joyce ’17MM and incoming students Alexis C. Lamb ’20MM and Peter Shin ’20MMA received ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

Violinist Dennis Kim ’98MM was named concertmaster of the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, Calif. Kim has served as concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra since 2015.

Composers Yoshiaki Onishi ’07MM ’08AD and Carl Schimmel ’99MM were awarded Guggenheim Fellowships for music composition.

Two alumni received awards from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Bass-baritone Christian Van Horn ’02MM ’03AD received the Richard Tucker Award, and bass David Leigh ’14MM received a Sara Tucker Study Grant.

Published May 9, 2018
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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.

Composition

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

Guitar

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.

Organ

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.

Piano

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.

Strings

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.

Voice

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

School

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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YSM Student News | April 2018

The Bonus Quartet

Composer Krists Auznieks ’16MM ’21 DMA had his piece And Flowers Showered, an immersive concert-length work, premiered by the New York City-based ensemble Contemporaneous at National Sawdust in February.

The Bonus Quartet, an ensemble of YSM trombonists, was named a semifinalist in the Senior Winds category at the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. The quartet, which includes Zachary Haas ’18MM, Grant Futch ’18MMA, Hillary Simms ’18MM, and Wil Wortley ’18MM, will compete in the finals in Ann Arbor in May.

Violinist Ariel Horowitz ’19MM was awarded second prize in the age 18-21 category at the 2018 International Arthur Grumiaux Competition for Young Violinists in Brussels, Belgium. Horowitz also received the prize for Best Interpretation of a Work by Belgian Composer.

Clarinetist Graeme Johnson ’18MMA won first prize at the Hellam Young Artists’ Competition in Springfield, Mo. Johnson was awarded a monetary prize and will perform the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in January 2019.

Composer Aaron Israel Levin ’19MM had his sextet Springbokkie selected for the Society of Composers Inc.’s 2018 National Conference. It was performed at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wa., in March.

Pianist Szymon Nehring ’19AD received the International Classical Music Awards’ Outstanding Young Polish Artist award. Each year, the ICMA honors exceptional artists and recordings that are selected by an international jury of music critics.

Cellist Justin Park ’18MM won first prize at the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra’s 59th Annual Instrumental Competition. Park will be featured as a guest soloist with the orchestra in the 2018-2019 season.

Congratulations to these and all of our outstanding students.

Published April 16, 2018
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Violist Josip Kvetek ’18MM, on being a soloist with an orchestra of his peers

Josip Kvetek ’18MM

When violist Josip Kvetek ’18MM played Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola on a recital here at YSM last year, it wasn’t with an eye on performing the piece with the Yale Philharmonia, which he’ll do on Friday, Jan. 26. “It’s not very serious music,” Kvetek said, explaining that the Paganini sonata is a fun piece of music, a quirky sonata that just happens to be, in the words of principal conductor Peter Oundjian, “probably the most difficult piece ever written for viola.” After Kvetek’s recital performance last year, his teacher, Ettore Causa, suggested that he enter the Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition, which Kvetek won in April 2017.

The sonata, Kvetek said, is “not standard repertoire for viola.” Paganini, he explained, “commissioned a piece from Berlioz” to be played on a five-string viola. Berlioz, in response, composed Harold in Italy, an orchestral piece with viola solos. “Paganini didn’t like the first draft of the piece,” Kvetek said, “so he decided to write his own piece.” The result is “a sonata for solo instrument and orchestra, which is very odd.”

Kvetek will perform the piece on a standard viola, an instrument without an added E string, which means “I have to play with an improvised thumb position” to execute passages in the instrument’s upper register. In terms of interpretation, Kvetek said, “it’s very simple, harmonically and melodically. It’s just simple from every angle.” Still, it’s a piece that can easily feel like blocks of virtuoso passages arranged without much cohesion. “It starts becoming 50 little tasks,” Kvetek said, “and not one, coherent story. The part that helps with that is it’s very operatic. It’s much easier if you let go of the classical way of thinking.”

Now in the second year of YSM’s master of music degree program, studying with Causa, and with Steven Tenenbom while Causa is on sabbatical, Kvetek has done his share of playing with the Yale Philharmonia as a member of the orchestra’s viola section. On Jan. 26, he’ll be out front, next to guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn, who’ll lead a program that also includes Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919 version) and Franck’s Symphony in D minor. Performing as the soloist with an orchestra of his peers is “a little bit more stressful,” Kvetek said, “because you do know all the people. The benefit is that they’re very supportive and very helpful in the process. Everybody is hoping or cheering that you play the best you can. It becomes much easier to play in that environment.” The stress, he said, comes from wanting “to present yourself well” in front of one’s peers.

Given the operatic nature of the Paganini sonata, Kvetek said, “The majority of it is on me to deliver a performance that other people can follow.” Part of that responsibility, to be sure, falls on Solzhenitsyn, with whom Kvetek hasn’t worked. Basing his impressions on YouTube videos, Kvetek described Solzhenitsyn as an expressive conductor, which “will help me connect with the orchestra and will help bring this piece together.” Because there’s no “prescribed way of how you perform” the Paganini, Kvetek said, “It’s up to me to play it just the way I want to play it.”

On Friday, Jan. 26, guest conductor Ignat Solzhenitsyn leads the Yale Philharmonia in a program that includes Stravinsky’s spellbinding Firebird Suite (1919 version), Paganini’s Sonata per la Grand Viola, with 2017 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition winner Josip Kvetek ’18MM, and Franck’s inventive and affecting Symphony in D minor.

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Published January 18, 2018
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Argus Quartet, pianist Dominic Cheli share first prize at Concert Artists Guild competition

The Argus Quartet (photo by Ben Gibbs) and Dominic Cheli (photo by Gallia Kastler)

The Argus Quartet, the ensemble that served from 2015 to 2017 as YSM’s fellowship quartet-in-residence, and pianist Dominic Cheli ’16MM, have been named joint first-prize winners of the annual Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. The quartet and Cheli will each receive a $5,000 cash prize and a management contract and will be presented in recital at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, in addition to other opportunities.

The final round of the competition took place on October 17 at Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City and was judged by a nine-person jury. Two YSM students won prizes at last year’s Concert Artist Guild competition. Guitarist Jiyeon “Jiji” Kim ’17MM won the top prize, and double bassist Samuel Suggs ’14MM ’20DMA was named the organization’s New Music/New Places Fellow.

The Argus Quartet, which was founded in Los Angeles in 2013, was named the first-place winner in the Senior Strings division of the University of Michigan’s M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition in May, which earned the group a $20,000 cash award and a residency at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance during the 2017-2018 academic year. At YSM, the Argus Quartet was the first ensemble to be mentored by the School’s ensemble-in-residence, the Brentano String Quartet. The Argus Quartet is currently the graduate quartet-in-residence at The Juilliard School.

Cheli, who studied at the Yale School of Music under the tutelage of pianist Peter Frankl, has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and Sheldon Concert Hall in his hometown, St. Louis. He is currently an artist diploma candidate at the Colburn Conservatory of Music, where he studies with Fabio Bidini. Cheli recently recorded a CD of music by Muzio Clementi at the Yale School of Music for an album that was released on the Naxos label.

ARGUS QUARTET

DOMINIC CHELI

Published October 19, 2017
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