Music at Yale

Music at Yale enjoys a level of participation and excellence that is unrivaled among American universities. The School of Music stands at the center of this activity, with students and faculty presenting more than four hundred public concerts and recitals every year. Although there are numerous extracurricular music groups of all types throughout the campus, the curricular study and performance of music is centered at the School of Music, the Department of Music, and the Institute of Sacred Music.

The School of Music

The Yale School of Music is a graduate-professional school for students of exceptional ability who, by reason of their musical and intellectual aptitude, are qualified to do graduate work at this University. At Yale, students selected from all parts of the world are brought together to study with a distinguished faculty. In addition to receiving professional training in music, students are encouraged to participate in the rich intellectual life of the entire University and to develop and pursue interests in areas outside of their majors. While these intellectual pursuits are not, and should not be, formulated as a program of prescribed courses, the expansion of one’s comprehension and perception beyond mechanical craft is a basic premise of the School’s educational philosophy. School of Music programs are designed to develop students’ potentials in their special field to the highest levels of excellence while extending their intellectual horizons beyond that area of specialization.

One of the most important training activities at the School is chamber music, which is closely supervised by faculty coaches. There are also frequent opportunities for solo, small ensemble, orchestral, choral, and other types of performances. Because of this unique training, many graduates of the Yale School of Music hold positions on university faculties, in major symphony orchestras, and in leading opera companies. Others are now performing as concert artists or have found careers in various aspects of commercial music and music administration.

The School limits its enrollment to two hundred graduate students and maintains a student-faculty ratio of approximately three-to-one, providing a distinctive educational environment for gifted artists.

Norfolk Chamber Music Festival/
Yale Summer School of Music

Nestled among northwest Connecticut’s pastoral Litchfield Hills, the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate in the village of Norfolk has hosted the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival/Yale Summer School of Music since 1941. The festival’s three renowned programs are the Chamber Music Session, the New Music Workshop, and the Chamber Choir and Choral Conducting Workshop. The admissions process is highly competitive, as these programs are among the most selective summer music offerings in the world. Accepted fellows (instrumentalists, composers, and singers) receive a scholarship covering the full cost of tuition, housing, and meals. At Norfolk, fellows participate in an intensive program of coachings, master classes, and performances.

Summertime school and festival concerts are presented from June through August in the Music Shed, which was built in 1906. The Music Shed’s stunning acoustics have complemented the artistry of such renowned musicians as Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jean Sibelius, and, more recently, the Artis, Brentano, Fine Arts, Guarneri, and Tokyo string quartets.

Chamber Music Session fellows have ample opportunity to perform on the weekly Emerging Artist Showcase series and alongside their faculty mentors and festival guest artists on the Friday and Saturday series. The Emerging Artist Showcase has developed a strong following, attracting area residents as well as people who travel many miles to hear concerts.

All school and festival performances are professionally recorded, and fellows from each session may obtain video and audio downloads of their work. Festival concerts are livestreamed and frequently broadcast nationally on public radio.

Alumni of the Norfolk program who have enjoyed successful careers in music include Alan Gilbert, Richard Stoltzman, Frederica von Stade, Pamela Frank, the Claremont and Eroica trios, So¯ Percussion, Eighth Blackbird, and the Alexander, Calder, Cassatt, Cavani, Jasper, Miró, St. Lawrence, Shanghai, and Ying string quartets, among many others. Recent Norfolk alumni have also won many of the most prestigious chamber music prizes including the Young Artists, Naumburg, Fischoff, M-Prize, and Banff competitions.

Applications for the New Music Workshop and the Chamber Music Session are due by Thursday, January 4, 2024. Applications for the Chamber Choir and Choral Conducting Workshop are due by Thursday, March 14, 2024. Admission is extremely competitive and is based on an audition video and, most important, a subsequent live audition. Applications and further information may be obtained at or by email,

Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments

The Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments is committed to fostering the understanding and appreciation of musical instruments from all cultures. It provides access to and disseminates information about its holdings to Yale students, faculty, and staff; to scholars, musicians, and instrument makers; and to the public.

One of the foremost institutions of its kind, the Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments acquires, preserves, and exhibits musical instruments from antiquity to the present, featuring restored examples in demonstration and live performance. Established in 1900 when Morris Steinert presented to Yale his collection consisting chiefly of keyboard instruments, the collection became one of the world’s most important repositories of musical instruments with the acquisition of the Belle Skinner Collection, the Emil Herrmann Collection, the Albert Steinert Collection, and the Robyna Neilson Ketchum Collection. Since 1970 the collection has nearly tripled in size, today comprising more than one thousand instruments, the majority of which document the history of Western art music.

The collection maintains permanent displays, regularly mounts special exhibits, and presents an annual series of concerts, lectures, and other special events. An important resource for the music curricula of the University, the collection serves as a laboratory for courses in the history of musical instruments and as a supplemental archive for courses taught in the arts and sciences. Special lectures and demonstrations as well as performance seminars are frequently presented to sessions of music history classes. The collection also acquires fine reproductions of period instruments to be used by music students for practical study and performance. More information is available at

The Department of Music

The Department of Music works as a partner with the School of Music to provide a basic education in music to Yale students. Whereas the School of Music is primarily concerned with graduate students who wish to become performers, conductors, and composers, the Department of Music teaches undergraduates in Yale College, providing instruction in music theory, music history, and music appreciation for music majors and nonmajors alike. At the same time, the department offers graduate programs in music theory and musicology leading to the Ph.D. degree. Students interested in these programs may apply directly to the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Graduate courses, all conducted as seminars, are taught by a distinguished faculty. With the consent of their advisers and the instructor of the course, students in the School of Music are welcome to enroll in both undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the department. Similarly, students enrolled in the department will often be found at the School taking lessons, playing chamber music, or taking courses in conducting, music history, or composition. The department sponsors the Yale Collegium Musicum, the Yale Bach Society, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Yale Group for New Music, and Yale College Opera as extracurricular musical activities. Further information may be obtained at

Yale Institute of Sacred Music

The Yale Institute of Sacred Music, an interdisciplinary graduate center, educates leaders who foster, explore, and engage with the sacred through music, worship, and the arts in Christian communities, diverse religious traditions, and public life. Partnering with the Yale School of Music and Yale Divinity School, as well as other academic and professional units at Yale, the Institute prepares its students for careers in church music and other sacred music, pastoral ministry, performance, and scholarship. The Institute’s curriculum integrates the study and practice of music and the arts with religion. With a core focus on Christian sacred music, the Institute builds bridges among disciplines and vocations and makes creative space for scholarship, performance, and practice.

Music students who wish to pursue graduate work in programs in choral conducting, organ, composition, or voice (early music, oratorio, and chamber ensemble vocal track) must apply for and be accepted into one of the degree programs of the School of Music: M.M., M.M.A., or D.M.A. Institute students must be admitted to either the Yale School of Music or Yale Divinity School (or both), from which they receive their degrees. Students pursuing music degrees receive rigorous conservatory training and will typically go on to careers in church music, public performance, or teaching.

The Institute of Sacred Music was established in 1973 by a gift from the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation of Columbus, Indiana. The chairman of the board of the foundation, Mrs. Robert S. Tangeman, described the Institute as a place where “the function of music and the arts in Christianity will receive new strength through the preparation and training of individual musicians, ministers, and teachers who understand their calling in broad Christian terms and not exclusively within the limits of their disciplines.”

At the heart of the Institute’s program is the weekly Colloquium, a lively interdisciplinary course attended by all ISM faculty and students. Faculty and guest speakers lecture in the fall on topics pertinent to the primary fields represented in the ISM: worship, music, and the arts. In their final year, students present a project that is the culmination of work done with another ISM student outside their own discipline. In Colloquium, students and faculty explore the ways in which music and the arts function within diverse Christian liturgical practices. The Institute serves to promote the understanding of biblical texts as proclaimed in community and the unique sense of identity the arts provide for worshipers in a variety of faith traditions.

More information regarding the Institute may be found online at; or its Bulletin may be obtained online at or by writing directly to the Institute of Sacred Music, 406 Prospect Street, New Haven CT 06511-2167; by phoning 203.432.9753; or by emailing