The members of the performance faculty of the Yale School of Music are internationally recognized artists and teachers. At Yale they work with students from many countries in programs that are broadly based and intensely professional. Work in both solo and ensemble performance is supplemented by a comprehensive program of study in musical analysis and history. Students participate in the Yale Philharmonia, New Music New Haven, Yale Opera, and the extensive chamber music program. Master classes, special seminars, and residencies of distinguished guest artists are sponsored each year by the School. Students are urged to explore courses in music literature, analysis, and bibliography as an important component of their course of study, and to take advantage of courses and activities in other areas of the University. In this extraordinarily rich musical environment, Yale provides a unique opportunity for the cultivation of each individual student’s potential for artistic growth.
Syoko Aki, Hyo Kang, Ani Kavafian, Wendy Sharp, and Kyung Yu, violin; Ettore Causa, viola; Paul Watkins and Ole Akahoshi, cello; Donald Palma, double bass
The violin faculty encourages students to become their own best teacher, first through explanation and demonstration, and eventually through critical self-awareness. No single method is stressed; rather, an approach is designed for each individual student. Rhythmic control is paramount; it is inextricably bound, both physically and emotionally, to beautiful violin playing.
The approach to viola instruction stresses the overriding importance of musical language as well as technical mastery of the instrument. The search for beauty in performance is the ultimate goal; the production of an expressive sound and an acute awareness of phrasing in interpretation are also constantly kept in mind. Independent and broad exploration of viola literature is encouraged, as are new compositions to be written for the instrument.
The method of cello instruction is based upon the belief that even the most imaginative musician is prevented from achieving the highest potential if limited by technical deficiencies. The student, therefore, concentrates first on the removal of tension, then learns to involve the entire body in cello playing and to experience the physical sensations associated with facility on the instrument. When the player and the instrument function as an efficient unit, the student begins to explore the vast subtleties of sound, phrasing, and interpretation available to those who have thoroughly mastered the cello.
The Yale School of Music offers the double bassist an opportunity to refine technique and musicianship while gaining a truer understanding of the physical aspects of playing the double bass. Preparation for orchestra auditions, solo performances, and all aspects of twentieth-century writing for the double bass is emphasized in degrees corresponding to the students’ goals.
Wind and Brass Instruments
Ransom Wilson, flute; Stephen Taylor, oboe; David Shifrin, clarinet; Frank Morelli, bassoon; William Purvis, horn; Kevin Cobb, trumpet; Scott Hartman, trombone; Carol Jantsch, tuba
Wind and brass players receive private lessons and participate in weekly seminars. They are encouraged to acquaint themselves with as broad a repertoire as possible in all fields, including performance of Baroque and contemporary music. In addition to solo playing, students are required to play in chamber groups, New Music New Haven, and the Philharmonia.
Robert van Sice, percussion
The percussion program offers three primary areas of study: solo marimba/percussion, orchestral percussion, and contemporary chamber music. Students receive a weekly private lesson and attend an orchestral repertoire seminar. Required ensembles include the Philharmonia, New Music New Haven, and the Yale Percussion Group.
Guitar and Harp
Benjamin Verdery, guitar; June Han, harp
The weekly guitar seminar includes performances of newly learned solo repertoire and chamber music. In addition, Professor Verdery lectures on a variety of topics, including interpretation, arranging, technique, pedagogy, master-class teaching, programming, memory, competitions, recording, and career development. Each year in the course, students are required to write an étude and an arrangement, and to present a lecture. The seminar also requires that, prior to graduation, students perform a twenty-minute outreach concert in New Haven schools.
A guest master class takes place each term. Recent artists have included Leo Brouwer, Odair Assad, Eliot Fisk, David Russell, SoloDuo, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Raphaella Smits, Roland Dyens, David Leisner, Anthony Newman, and Hopkinson Smith. A biennial Guitar Extravaganza features performances, master classes, and pedagogical discussions with luminaries in the field. In the two-year guitar program each student is strongly encouraged to prepare two solo recital programs, a concerto, and four chamber works. The final degree recital should be performed from memory.
Harpists have the opportunity to perform with a wide range of ensembles including chamber groups, the Yale Philharmonia, and New Music New Haven. Harp students often compete in the School’s annual Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition, which offers the winners the opportunity to perform with the Yale Philharmonia.
Boris Berman, Hung-Kuan Chen, Melvin Chen, Elizabeth Sawyer Parisot, Boris Slutsky, and Wei-Yi Yang, piano; and guests
The close collaboration of piano faculty members working with one another is one of the unique features of Yale’s piano department. Piano students have regular opportunities to play in master classes and receive additional individual lessons as well as chamber music coaching by faculty other than their major studio teachers. Moreover, many internationally acclaimed pianists visit the School each year to give recitals, lectures, and master classes.
The main emphasis of the piano program is on solo performance; however, ensemble playing, accompanying, and teaching play an important role in the piano major’s studies at Yale. This all-encompassing training is given so that graduates are superbly equipped to make their way in the highly competitive world of music today. Each year, every piano student is expected to give at least one solo recital, to perform with instrumentalists and/or singers, and to play chamber and contemporary music. There are myriad performing opportunities on campus and beyond. Many piano students compete in the School’s annual Woolsey Hall Concerto Competition, which offers the winners the opportunity to perform with the Yale Philharmonia. The piano department regularly presents outstanding current and former students in concerts in New York City. An all-Steinway school, the Yale School of Music maintains good grand pianos in all concert halls, studios, and practice rooms; the excellent practice facilities include access to faculty studios for practice.
In addition to the full-tuition scholarship and a living stipend given to all students of Yale School of Music, pianists have ample opportunities to earn extra money at Yale through teaching and accompanying. Each year, top students are given monetary awards and named scholarships. Yale pianists have been participants and top prizewinners in numerous important international competitions worldwide.
The Brentano String Quartet, members of the performance faculty, and guest artists performing in the Oneppo Chamber Music Series
Developing musicianship is the goal of every aspiring musician. The surest path to this goal is the study and performance of the masterworks of chamber music literature. Under the guidance of the faculty and visiting artists, chamber music is studied in depth, and traditions and stylistic differences are explored. Concerts by visiting ensembles are open to students.
Chamber music holds a place of great importance in the curriculum at Yale. An effort is made to provide each student with an opportunity to play in various ensembles. Students also have the opportunity to rehearse and perform in chamber music concerts with their faculty coaches.
Student chamber music performances take place not only at the School of Music but also in various residential colleges on the Yale campus and in surrounding communities.
Arthur Haas, harpsichord
A performance major is offered at the graduate level. Students in the School of Music may elect to study harpsichord as a secondary instrument; an audition and permission of the instructor are required.
Candidates for graduate study in harpsichord should show great potential in both solo and collaborative performance. Goals for the degree include a command of solo literature from the late Renaissance through to the pre-Classic period and extensive Baroque ensemble experience leading to fluent and tasteful continuo realization with both singers and instrumentalists. In addition, students will acquire knowledge about Baroque performance practice, organology, and tuning/maintenance issues. While in residence, candidates will have the possibility of studying and playing upon keyboard instruments at the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments.
Martin Jean, Craig Cramer, Walden Moore, and Jeffrey Brillhart (improvisation), organ
The major in organ prepares students for careers as soloists, informed teachers, and church musicians, and for doctoral-level studies. The departmental seminar is devoted to a comprehensive survey of organ literature from all musical periods. In addition to individual coaching from the resident faculty, majors receive individual lessons from renowned visiting artists who come to Yale for one week each year. In recent years the visiting artists have included Marie-Claire Alain, Martin Baker, Michel Bouvard, Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin, David Craighead, Vincent Dubois, Hans-Ola Ericsson, Michael Gaillit, Jon Gillock, Naji Hakim, Martin Haselböck, Susan Landale, Olivier Latry, Jon Laukvik, Rachel Laurin, Ludger Lohmann, Renée Anne Louprette, Christophe Mantoux, Karel Paukert, Peter Planyavsky, Simon Preston, Daniel Roth, Erik Wm. Suter, Thomas Trotter, and Dame Gillian Weir. James O’Donnell will be the guest artist in 2020–2021.
Students have the opportunity for practice and performance on an extensive collection of fine instruments at the University: the H. Frank Bozyan Memorial Organ in Dwight Memorial Chapel (von Beckerath, three manuals, 1971); the organ in Battell Chapel (Walter Holtkamp, Sr., three manuals, 1951); the organs in Marquand Chapel at the Divinity School (E.M. Skinner, three manuals, 1932; Krigbaum Organ, Taylor & Boody, three manuals, meantone temperament, 2007); and the Newberry Memorial Organ in Woolsey Hall (E.M. Skinner, four manuals, 1928), one of the most renowned Romantic organs in the world. The organ studio at the Institute of Sacred Music houses a two-manual organ by Martin Pasi (2011). Two-manual practice instruments by Flentrop, Holtkamp, Casavant, and other builders are located both in Woolsey Hall and at the Institute, which also has five Steinway grand pianos, a C.B. Fisk positive, a Dowd harpsichord, and a two-manual Richard Kingston harpsichord.
The Institute also offers an employment placement service for organ students at Yale.
Gerald Martin Moore (chair); Janna Baty, mezzo-soprano; Christopher Murrah (acting and movement); Emily Olin (Russian diction); Timothy Shaindlin (opera coaching and French and Italian diction); James Taylor, tenor; Adriana Zabala, mezzo-soprano
Students majoring in vocal performance at Yale are enrolled in one of two separate and distinct tracks: the opera track and the early music track. The early music, oratorio, and chamber ensemble track is sponsored jointly by the School of Music and the Institute of Sacred Music. Both tracks are designed to enhance and nurture the artistry of singers by developing in them a secure technique, consummate musicianship, stylistic versatility, performance skills, and comprehensive performance experience. In both tracks there is a strong emphasis on oratorio and the art song repertoire, and each student is expected to sing a recital each year.
The Yale community and the New Haven area offer ample opportunities for solo experience with various Yale choral and orchestral ensembles, as well as through church positions and professional orchestras. Close proximity to New York and Boston makes attendance at performances and auditions in those cities convenient. Additionally, students have the opportunity to teach voice to undergraduates in Yale College and to nonmajors in the Yale School of Music.
Gerald Martin Moore (artistic director and coordinator), Emily Olin (Russian diction), Timothy Shaindlin (opera coaching and French and Italian diction), Kyle Swann (song coaching), Adriana Zabala (voice), and guest conductors and stage directors
Singers in the opera program are prepared for rigorous careers by practical studies in the art of opera performance. The program encompasses thorough musical training including languages, style, acting, body movement, recitals, and general stage skills. Full productions with orchestra, as well as performances of excerpts, are presented throughout the year to give students varied performance experience. Recent productions have included Florencia en el Amazonas, Eugene Onegin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Don Quichotte, Le nozze di Figaro, Gianni Schicchi, Bon Appétit!, Riders to the Sea, La Bohème, La Cenerentola, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Iolanta, Così fan tutte, The Rape of Lucretia, Don Giovanni, The Scarf, Dido and Aeneas, La tragédie de Carmen, Le Rossignol, Die Zauberflöte, La Navarraise, The Bear, Die Fledermaus, L’heure espagnole, Bluebeard’s Castle, Orphée aux Enfers, Trouble in Tahiti, and Suor Angelica. Repertoire is chosen with students’ individual voices in mind, and to accommodate the widest casting possibilities and maximum experience for all.
Private voice lessons are supplemented by intensive coaching in both operatic and song literature. Weekly seminars and voice classes stress diction, interpretation, and effective communication. Master classes by eminent artists give musicians contact with and insight into the real world of music. Such guests have included Elly Ameling, Carlo Bergonzi, Michael Hampe, Alan Held, Marilyn Horne, Jennifer Larmore, Evelyn Lear, Sherrill Milnes, Matthew Polenzani, and Renata Scotto.
Yale Opera has performed and recorded operas in concert with the prestigious Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, Poland. This relationship with the festival began in 2011, when Yale Opera singers performed with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Łukasz Borowicz. These performances and professional recordings include Donizetti’s Maria Padilla in 2011, Montemezzi’s L’amore dei tre re in 2012, the seldom-performed first version of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra in 2013, Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride in 2014, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw in 2015, and Holst’s At the Boar’s Head and Vaughan Williams’s Riders to the Sea in 2016. The recording of The Turn of the Screw was released in the United States in February 2016.
Yale Opera has also enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, Italy, offering summer performance opportunities for Yale Opera students and alumni. Yale Opera was first invited to Milan in the summer of 2004 to present a series of concerts, and the unique artistic relationship that was kindled that summer has continued. During its 2008 residence in Milan, Yale Opera collaborated with the Orchestra Verdi to present concert performances of Mascagni’s Il sì, Offenbach’s La Périchole, Weill’s Die Sieben Todsünden, Lehar’s Der Frühling, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, and J. Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. In 2011, Yale Opera presented concert performances of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town in Milan. And in the fall of 2014, Yale Opera co-presented Puccini’s Suor Angelica in a performance with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.
Early Music, Oratorio, and Chamber Ensemble
James Taylor (program adviser and voice)
This vocal track, leading to the M.M. degree, is designed for the singer whose interests lie principally in the fields of early music, oratorio, art song, contemporary music, and choral chamber ensembles. Private voice lessons are supplemented by intensive coaching in art song and oratorio literature and by concentrated study of ensemble techniques in the chamber ensemble, Yale Schola Cantorum, directed by David Hill. Schola performs major works featuring these voice students in the various solo roles, and Schola’s touring and recording schedules provide invaluable professional experiences. Weekly seminars and voice classes provide in-depth instruction in performance practices, diction, and interpretation, and singers have the opportunity to participate in master classes by internationally renowned artists, such as Russell Braun, David Daniels, Christian Gerhaher, Emma Kirkby, Donald Sulzen, and Lawrence Zazzo. Classes in diction, movement, and vocal repertoire are shared with students in the opera track. Students are encouraged to avail themselves of the offerings of the University, particularly courses in the Department of Music. All students enrolled in the Early Music, Oratorio, and Chamber Ensemble voice track also participate in ISM’s Colloquium on Wednesday afternoons and choose two electives from the academic courses offered by the Institute faculty. For more precise information about the courses and requirements in this track, contact the Institute’s admissions office at 203.432.9753.
William Boughton, Peter Oundjian, and guests
The orchestral conducting program offers intensive training to a highly gifted group of conductors. During the two-year curriculum students train with the artistic director and also work with a group of distinguished guest mentors. Students have the opportunity to travel to observe eminent conductors in rehearsals.
Conductors frequently have the opportunity to conduct the Yale Philharmonia and other ensembles in rehearsal and performance.
Although there is an emphasis on orchestral repertoire, students develop their technique and general musicianship. Score-reading skills and analysis classes are required. In addition, students in the program are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the diverse course offerings of the School of Music, the Department of Music, and the other divisions of the University.
Jeffrey Douma, David Hill, and André J. Thomas
The program prepares students for careers as professional conductors in a variety of contexts, including educational, civic, and church. A primary emphasis of the master’s degree is laying the foundation for continued work in a doctoral program. Students are expected to expand their musicianship skills and develop the broad knowledge of repertoire required of conductors.
The program for choral conductors includes individual lessons with the choral conducting faculty and lessons during regularly supervised sessions with the Repertory and Recital choruses. Attendance at a weekly seminar, Repertory Chorus rehearsals, and membership in the Yale Camerata are required each term, as is participation as a singer in either the Yale Schola Cantorum or the Repertory Chorus. First-year students conduct Repertory Chorus in two shared performances. Second- and third-year students present a degree recital with the Recital Chorus. Choral conducting students are required to study voice as a secondary instrument for two terms and are encouraged to pursue other secondary instrumental studies. Students who are enrolled in the School of Music and the Institute of Sacred Music will have additional requirements as specified by the Institute. All students are expected to avail themselves of the offerings of the University, particularly courses in the Department of Music.
Choral conductors are advised to observe rehearsals of each of the various vocal and instrumental ensembles. Further conducting experience is gained by serving as assistant conductor for one of the faculty-led choirs. Visiting guest conductors have included Simon Carrington, Harold Decker, George Guest, Simon Halsey, David Hill, Paul Hillier, Stephen Layton, Sir Neville Marriner, Nicholas McGegan, Erwin Ortner, Stefan Parkman, Krzysztof Penderecki, Helmuth Rilling, Robert Shaw, Dale Warland, and Sir David Willcocks.
Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, David Lang, Hannah Lash, Christopher Theofanidis, and guests
The program focuses on studies in composition, including computer music and recording techniques. In addition, composers are urged to continue to develop their competency as both instrumentalists and conductors. Students are also encouraged to take as many courses as possible in music history and literature and are required to complete successfully courses in studio techniques and the analysis of tonal and nontonal music.
Composers are expected to produce enough new work in two years to fill one complete concert of their music. To achieve this end, student compositions are interspersed throughout the six to eight concerts given each year under the rubric New Music New Haven.
One of the most effective features of the composition program is regular visits from distinguished composers. Guests who have recently addressed the composers’ seminar include John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Margaret Brouwer, Donnacha Dennehy, Bryce Dessner, Andrew Ford, Annie Gosfield, Georg Haas, Daron Hagen, Stephen Hartke, Vijay Iyer, Amy Beth Kirsten, Phil Kline, Paul Lansky, Missy Mazzoli, Marc Mellits, Thomas Newman, Mark Pollard, Steve Reich, Kurt Rohde, Kaija Saariaho, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Caroline Shaw, Arlene Sierra, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Kate Soper, Augusta Read Thomas, Joan Tower, Dan Trueman, Jacob Ter Veldhuis, Melinda Wagner, Amy Williams, and Du Yun.
Additional Instructional Resources
Center for Studies in Music Technology
The Center for Studies in Music Technology (CSMT) offers courses and supports projects in all aspects of computer applications in music composition, performance, and research. CSMT currently has facilities for sound synthesis and analysis of all types, digital recording and processing, and MIDI-based synthesis. Aside from composition projects, CSMT supports research in interactive performance systems, physical modeling of instruments, analysis of performance gesture, and music notation.
Music in Schools Initiative
Michael Yaffe (associate dean), Sebastian Ruth (visiting professor in community engagement), Rubén Rodríguez (director)
The mission of the Music in Schools Initiative is twofold: to train graduate music students as teaching artists and to provide program support to the New Haven Public Schools music program.
Training is accomplished in two ways. Intensive noncurricular training at the beginning of each term prepares students for work as graduate teaching artists; more than forty students are hired as teaching artists each year. In addition, courses for credit are offered.
For New Haven, the Music in Schools Initiative provides teaching artists who collaborate with music teachers at more than twenty schools; weekly citywide honors bands, choirs, and string orchestras; vacation-week festivals for fourth and fifth graders; and a series of solo showcases for New Haven music students, held at Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall.
These school-year programs are funded through an endowment created by the Yale College Class of 1957, in recognition of its fiftieth reunion. The program originated in 2007 with an after-school strings program at Lincoln-Bassett School and has since expanded to the numerous programs offered now.
The Music in Schools Initiative also includes the Morse Summer Music Academy, a monthlong daily intensive music program for 140 students from the New Haven Public Schools. It is funded by an endowment created by Mr. and Mrs. Lester (’56) Morse. The Morse Summer Music Academy provides a comprehensive curriculum, including ensembles, classes, lessons, and special workshops.
For further information, visit https://music.yale.edu/music-schools-initiative.