Undergrads utilize Music School assets

Stephen Feigenbaum ’11 and Sannya Hede ’10 have done plenty in their first month at Yale this year. Feigenbaum meets with world-famous composers at a biweekly meeting in the Yale School of Music, and he sang in a YSM Philharmonica concert last Friday night. Hede has attended several free graduate student concerts and works with YSM students and the Scola Santorum, a renowned Gregorian chant ensemble, on a Baroque opera. They, among few others, represent the small undergraduate music crowd that enlists the help of the YSM to fulfill their musical interests.

According to the director of the Concert and Press Office, Vincent Oneppo SOM ’73, the YSM provides many resources for undergraduates. In addition to instrument lessons for credit, the school hosts guest artists and master classes open to all students. YSM also hosts hundreds of free and discounted concerts. And when there are empty spots in the graduate ensembles, undergraduate students are offered these seats, Melissa Brown SOM ’06 said.

“There’s a regular symbiosis that has been in place for years,” YSM Dean Emeritus and current Director of Yale University Bands Thomas C. Duffy said.

So with all of these opportunities, why aren’t more Yale College students flocking to the school?

“We haven’t done a very good job at reaching out to the undergraduate audience,” Oneppo said.

Due to Yale’s poster regulations, Oneppo has one week to advertise for any event, so he only uses outside kiosks, he said. In addition, publicity is dependent on any graduate student having a recital, and these efforts are often ineffective.

The other undergraduate programs such as master classes have advertising issues of their own, often leading to poor undergraduate attendance, Director of Chamber Music Wendy Sharpe said. According to Brown, poor undergraduate attendance at YSM events is due to the separation between the graduate and undergraduate departments or simple disinterest.

However, Associate Dean Thomas Masse SOM ’91 disagreed, saying he sees many undergraduates at concerts.

Still, to reach out, the YSM is trying to become more noticeable. This year, Oneppo hired several Yale College graduates to provide him outreach advice.

One of them is Customer Relations Manager Phanny Lonh ’04, who plans to utilize the Internet, YaleStation and Facebook to alert students of YSM events. She will also employ an undergraduate to put flyers in the residential colleges and table-tent advertisements in the dining halls.

Oneppo also plans to continue with “Music at Yale,” a program masterminded by Duffy, to unite all of Yale’s music programs for public convenience.

The YSM has created an online master calendar for “Music at Yale” for all musical events of the undergraduate and graduate musical organizations. Oneppo said he also plans to add undergraduate discounts for tickets to events.

Using the calendar, Feigenbaum visited the Doctor of Musical Arts prerequisite recital of Suzanne Farrin SOM ’08, held in Sprague Memorial Hall on September 20. He enjoyed the string quartet of graduate students, but it was poorly attended and did not help him gain technical music experience, he said.

But Hede disagreed based on her experiences with the free concerts she attended.

“They were particularly appealing to me because they emphasized not only good musical repertoire, but other technical aspects of performing music,” she said.

Impressed by the free concerts and other opportunities, some students hope to see a growth in the fledgling inter-school relationship, despite the roadblocks due to publicity.

“Music as an art form truly has no bounds in regards to age or profession, and it’s something that grows with the interaction of different kinds of people from different backgrounds and perspectives,” Hede said. “As such, I see any exchange between the School of Music and the musically inclined undergrads as both a vital and beneficial step for Yale’s fine arts.”

The next “Music at Yale” event is the Yale University Band’s first performance this Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Woolsey Hall.

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