Music and Drama come together for gala

This weekend, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gala concert — an event that organizers said highlighted the need for increased collaboration between the School of Music and the School of Drama.

During the concert, which took place Saturday evening and closed the Beinecke’s yearlong anniversary celebration, students from the two schools showcased the library’s musical and nonmusical collections. Faculty members and students from the music and drama schools worked together to create a piece that used performative, musical and visual elements to showcase “La Prose du Transsiberien” — a book of illustrated poetry from the Beinecke’s collection. Organizers and performers interviewed said the concert allowed for the kind of partnership between the two professional schools that should happen more often. The sharing of resources between the two schools enables members of each to grow into well-rounded artists, they said.

“That’s one of the crying shames of Yale, [there is] not enough interaction between the School of Music and School of Drama,” said clarinetist for the performance of “La Prose” Ashley Smith MUS ’14.

Composer Matthew Suttor, director Elizabeth Diamond, narrator Max Gordon Moore DRA ’11 and the technical design crew are affiliated with the School of Drama, while members of the Jasper String Quartet — who performed with Smith — are alumni of the School of Music. Diamond said that the interdisciplinary approach to the performance of “La Prose” is an example of the multifaceted works that could result from further collaboration between the two schools. She noted that although she thinks the number of interdisciplinary opportunities between the schools has grown in recent years, the schools’ fast-paced degree programs may be hindering this effort.

“I think the big challenge is that within these … programs, there’s so much within the disciplines that must get conveyed and taught that there’s a real challenge in creating the time for really serious and sustained forays,” Diamond said.

Smith said the two schools need to collaborate on a variety of artistic projects if their students are to become well-rounded artists. Experiencing one art form as independent from other art forms is a flawed approach to art, Smith said. Music performances should be accompanied by visual elements, he added, as contemporary audiences are increasingly demanding multidimensional performances instead of traditional concerts.

Timothy Young, curator of modern books and manuscripts at the Beinecke and the commissioner of the piece, said that through the performance of “La Prose,” he hoped to show that a library book can impact the worlds of drama, music and staging. He explained that in order to do this, he needed the help of Yale community members from different niches of the school.

“We’ve been making a lot of effort to reach out to the professional schools to bring people in and make them aware that we have archives,” Young said.

Diamond said that the Beinecke’s archives have the potential to provide further opportunities for art that includes performative elements, adding that the library itself has the potential to serve as a dramatic stage.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library opened in 1963.

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