YSM pianists sweep prizes at Koussevitzky competition

Sun-A Park

Pianists from the Yale School of Music have won all four prizes at the Musicians Club of New York’s 2018 Serge and Olga Koussevitzky Young Artist Awards competition. Sun-A Park ’16AD’17MMA, Sophiko Simsive ’18MM, Wenting Shi ’19MMA, and Christopher Goodpasture ’18MMA earned first, second, third, and fourth prize, respectively, and Fantee Jones ’18MMA was a finalist. The Musicians Club will honor the competition winners on May 5 at its annual Joseph H. Conlin Benefit Gala.

The competition, held each spring, is open in alternating years to string players, pianists, wind and brass players, and vocalists. In addition to monetary awards, the winners of this year’s piano competition will perform recitals on the club’s 2018-2019 concert series.

Published May 3, 2018
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Pianists Sun-A Park and Rachel Cheung to participate in Van Cliburn Competition

Sun-A Park

Pianists Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA and Rachel Cheung ’13MM have been selected to compete in the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Park and Cheung are two of 30 young pianists, selected from a pool of more than 120 applicants, who were invited to the competition based on auditions held earlier this year.

The competition, which takes place May 25-June 10 in Fort Worth, Texas, consists of four rounds and requires candidates to prepare about four hours of music.

“It’s a huge preparation process,” Park said. “I have to play three solo recital programs, one chamber music (program), and two concerti. I am practicing and playing for friends, teachers, and running it through in other concert venues.” Park has been studying with YSM faculty pianist Boris Berman.

Rachel Cheung

According to its website, the Van Cliburn Competition is widely recognized as “one of the world’s highest-visibility classical-music contests” and has been responsible for launching the careers of some of the world’s most prominent pianists. In addition to cash prizes, winners receive three years of career management, multiple concert engagements, and extensive media coverage. The competition is held every four years.

Park and Cheung have each participated in many competitions and agree that their respective preparation and practice routines have evolved with each one.

“I have done quite a number of competitions prior to the Cliburn,” Cheung said, “and I would say that each competition has given me something different but important to learn. I understand my strengths and weaknesses more clearly after each competition, and I know what to work on to improve.” While at YSM, Cheung studied with Peter Frankl.

“My first international competition was when I was 12,” Park said. “My preparation changed as the repertoire grew bigger. Now I practice in cycles of days to make sure I can cover all the repertoire I am playing. I try to eliminate any kind of distraction and really focus on practicing. I don’t know if there is a ‘strategy,’ just honest practicing, slowly, to process it in my brain, and most of all not getting sick or too stressed!”

Live performances from the competition will be broadcast on YouTube as well as in select movie theaters. Visit cliburn.org for more information. 

Published May 11, 2017
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Achievements celebrated at annual Honors Dinner

Carol Colburn Grigor, recipient of the Samuel Simons Sanford Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Samuel Simons Sanford Award winner Carol Colburn Grigor, and Robert Blocker

The Yale School of Music held its annual Honors Dinner on Sunday, May 7, welcoming students and alumni, faculty and staff, and distinguished guests to the Yale Commons for an evening of celebration. After thanking recently retired staff members for their service and acknowledging the University officers who were in attendance, YSM Dean Robert Blocker presented Carol Colburn Grigor ’69MMA CBE with the School’s highest honor, the Samuel Simons Sanford Award. Grigor, Blocker, said, “is one of America’s most generous … most thoughtful philanthropists.” Composer and former Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan Mills congratulated Grigor via video.

Willie Ruff, recipient of the Nathan Hale Award

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Nathan Hale Award recipient Willie Ruff, and Robert Blocker

Dean Blocker, with University President Peter Salovey and Yale Provost Benjamin Polak at his side, presented longtime YSM professor Willie Ruff ’53BM ’54MM, who will retire at the end of the semester, with the University’s prestigious Nathan Hale Award. “He’s changed all our lives,” Blocker said, before attendees were shown a video tribute to Ruff’s life and work. In a nod to the man who indirectly inspired him decades ago to study at YSM, Ruff said, “I thank, most of all, Charlie Parker.” The jazz office in the Yale School of Music’s Adams Center for Musical Arts was recently named in Ruff’s honor.

Left to right: Benjamin Polak, Peter Salovey, Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award winner Warren Lee, and Robert Blocker

Blocker presented the Ian Mininberg Distinguished Service Award to pianist Warren Lee ’00MM and the Cultural Leadership Citation to retiring Yale Collection of Musical Instruments curator William Nicholas Renouf ’71MMA. The Collection’s director, William Purvis, accepted the Citation on behalf of Renouf, who was unable to attend the Honors Dinner. Before presenting student prizes, Blocker referenced an impressive number of awards and successes earned and realized this year by students, faculty, and staff. He recognized longtime YSM faculty pianist Peter Frankl, who plans to retire in the fall, for his dedication to the School community.

At the end of the evening, Blocker told the students in attendance, “Claim the future. It belongs to you. You will make us better.” What follows is a list of the student prizes awarded during YSM’s 2017 Honors Dinner. MORE

Published May 9, 2017
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Inside YSM: Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA, piano

Sun-A Park

Pianist Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA was recently selected to compete at the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which is scheduled to take place in late May and early June in Fort Worth, Texas. Asked how studying with Boris Berman at YSM has prepared her for that opportunity, Sun-A said, “Professor Berman encouraged me to make the most musical decisions, provided insights into the repertoire I am performing, and stirred an intellectual curiosity within myself. I don’t know if he has prepared me just for this opportunity. He always believed in me and helped to maximized my abilities.” MORE

Published May 5, 2017
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YSM students perform in London

From left: Sun-A Park, Laura Park, Sophia Mockler, Eric Adamshick, Joshua Newburger, and Jessica Pray

YSM students, from left, Sun-A Park, Laura Park, Sophia Mockler, Eric Adamshick, Joshua Newburger, and Jessica Pray

This past week, students from the Yale School of Music, along with YSM Dean Robert Blocker and Director of Communications and Alumni Affairs Donna Yoo, traveled to London where they gave concerts, for Yale alumni and friends, at the Royal Automobile Club and the Royal College of Music. As part of the visit, which was made possible by Helen Chung-Halpern and Abel Halpern ’88BA (each is a member of YSM’s Board of Advisors), Blocker presented a master class to graduate and undergraduate student piano trios at the Royal College of Music.

The YSM students who traveled to London are violinists Sophia Mockler ’17MM and Laura Park ’18MM, violist Joshua Newburger ’17MM, cellist Eric Adamshick ’17MM, pianist Sun-A Park ’16AD ’17MMA, and soprano Jessica Pray ’17MM. Mockler, Laura Park, Newburger, and Adamshick performed as the Béla Quartet. MORE

Published October 6, 2016
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Esther Park and Sun-A Park win Chicago International Duo Piano Competition

from left: Esther Park and Sun-A Park

Duo Amadeae | From left: Esther Park and Sun-A Park

The Music Institute of Chicago announced that Duo Amadeae (Esther Park ’12 AD, ’13 MMA and Sun-A Park ’16 AD) has been named first-prize winner and recipient of the Director’s Award. They competed last week alongside 18 other piano duos representing 14 countries in Asia, Europe, and North America. Sun-A and Esther, who are sisters, received a cash prize of $10,000 as winners of the competition.

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Published June 14, 2016
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Peter Oundjian conducts the Yale Philharmonia Apr. 1

peter_oundjian_conducting

Peter Oundjian

The Yale School of Music presents the Yale Philharmonia with conductor Peter Oundjian on Friday, April 1 at 7:30 pm. Oundjian returns to Yale for the first time since October to conduct a program featuring two of Russia’s most celebrated composers: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Sun-A Park, a winner of the 2015 Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition, will be the featured soloist in Tchaikovsky‘s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor. The concerto’s memorable melodies and integrated folk tunes made it an instant success in its day, and it remains one of the most beloved piano concertos in the repertoire today.

Sun-A Park

Sun-A Park

Shostakovich‘s Symphony No. 8 in C minor came on the heels of his triumphant “Leningrad” Symphony, which served as an important piece of patriotic, morale-boosting art in the early 1940s.  MORE

Published March 8, 2016
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