Yalies sing Ives at Carnegie Hall

With talent in the School of Music at an all-time high, Yale musicians graced the stages of Carnegie Hall on Monday during the second of a special series of performances.

Monday night at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Yale students, faculty and alumni sang in an intimate concert that consisted of the eclectic works of Charles Ives, Class of 1898. The second of a five-concert series called Yale at Carnegie, yesterday’s performance showcased one portion of the School of Music’s diverse talent.

Vincent Oneppo, director of concert and press office for the School of Music, said the ambitious initiative represents a step up in Yale’s artistic presence in New York City from previous years.

“New York is a major stage, and Carnegie Hall is a major stage of that major stage,” Oneppo said. “We want to show New York audiences — but also through them, the audiences in the rest of the world — what the Yale School of Music offers … In the future we’re going to showcase other departments — our composers, wind department, our orchestra.”

School of Music Dean Robert Blocker said a program of this caliber was made possible by both the level of student talent as well as the increased funding in recent years. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Blocker said, budget limitations restricted the school’s ability to sponsor events outside of New Haven.

“Obviously one does not go into New York without the appropriate ability to deliver the program,” Blocker said. “But I think that the artistic level of the student body is at an all time high in the school.”

But the tradition of honoring distinguished alumni and featuring student talent is by no means a new one.

A Connecticut native and protege of Yale’s fledgling Music Department from 1894 to 1898, Ives studied under then-department chairman Horatio Parker. During his Yale years, Ives composed works that included the Glee Club favorite “The Bells of Yale.” In honor of his work, Yale students and alumni took part in a Yale-sponsored 2005 Naxos Label recording of Ives’ works.

Ryan MacPherson MUS ’99, a tenor with the New York City Opera, said the Yale-Ives connection is invaluable for the School of Music because of the opportunities it makes possible for its students.

“It was really neat because … every single person that recorded on it was a Yale alum,” MacPherson said. “We came from all over the globe, and all over the United States, and came back to Sprague after it had been completely redone.”

Jennifer Casey Cabot MUS ’89, a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera, said the opportunity to sing at Carnegie Hall last night was a result of her Yale background and involvement in the Ives recording two years ago. For MacPherson, singing at Carnegie Hall was unique not only because of the venue but also because of the sense of rapport with fellow Yale singers.

“To me, it’s more about a really great way to give back to the school, rather than me getting a gift from them,” MacPherson said. “It’s kind of like if I were to go back home and give a concert — not only is the venue wonderful, but it’s really great that Yale has asked me and the other singers to be a part of this program. In that sense it’s a very nice honor.”

The prestige of the series can amplify both Yale’s reputation and that of its students — for Joshua Copeland MUS ’08, a student in the Yale Opera program who performed Monday, the concert represented the foundation of his future performance career, Copeland said.

“This is a real door-opening opportunity for me to do part of a recital in a space that is so unique for this purpose,” Copeland said. “I hope it’ll be a learning experience for me, and I’d love to come back and do it again in the future.”

Blocker said the concert series aims to present the immense talent at Yale on a world-renowned stage.

“[These concerts] put the future artists of the world together to allow them the opportunity to collaborate,” he said. “It provides at the same time a different level of experience for the people involved and prepares them for what will undoubtedly in most instances be very successful careers.”

The next concert in the Yale at Carnegie series is on Feb. 4 at Zankel Hall.

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