The Yale School of Music will host around 150 of its alumni this Thursday and Friday for the first alumni reunion in 13 years to celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary.
Hailing from places as far as Korea and France, School of Music alumni will enjoy concerts, tours, panels and social events and connect with each other and current students. In addition to the main reunion in New Haven, members of the alumni office will host reception-based reunions in cities including Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C.
“The school would not be 125 years old without our alumni, so we needed to find a way to celebrate together,” said Donna Yoo MUS ‘09, director of admissions and alumni affairs at the Music School.
The event in New Haven features the most extensive programming of the reunions. The reunion features two 75-minute panels on Friday: “Women in Composition: Experience in a Cultural Microcosm” at 9 a.m. and “Chamber Music at Yale and Beyond: Tradition and Evolution” at 10:30 a.m. Both events will be held in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall.
According to Yoo, the first panel focuses on women in composition, which is a field where females are historically and currently underrepresented. The panel seeks to celebrate women at Yale in theme with the University’s 50WomenAtYale150 anniversary year, Yoo said.
“From the beginning, I wanted to do [an event] that honored women, and we have always had a strong female presence at the School of Music,” Yoo told the News. “We have especially had many really great female composers graduate from the school.”
Martin Bresnick and Hannah Lash MUS ‘12 will moderate the first panel. The panelists will be Jane Ira Bloom ’76 MUS ’77, Loren Loiacono ’10 MUS ’12, Missy Mazzoli MUS ’06 and Tawnie Olson MUS ’99. The panelists’ graduation years span five decades.
“We were eager to represent more than just the most conventional classical music that we do,” said Bresnick. “For example, Jane Ira Bloom seemed like a great person to have because she focused on jazz, and her career has involved both composition and performance to a degree that’s pretty incredible.”
According to Bresnick, the panelists will discuss their experiences as students, present what it means to be a woman studying composition and address the future of women in the field.
“What can we look to in the future? How can we enhance the possibilities for young women to enter the field and become the great composers of the future? If the pool of available students is enlarged, the representation for women in the future is assured to be good,” Bresnick said.
In the second panel, which is moderated by faculty pianist and Deputy Dean of the School of Music Melvin Chen ‘91, the panelists — faculty violinist Ani Kavafian, faculty horn player William Purvis and faculty clarinetist David Shifrin — will celebrate the School of Music’s rich history of chamber music. According to Yoo, they will also discuss the changing definitions of “what it means to be a chamber musician in the world today.”
According to Chen, the importance of chamber music is increasing rapidly, with industry focus shifting from large-scale ensembles like symphony orchestras to smaller chamber groups like chamber operas. Commissions for new music often are intended for small and unconventional ensembles.
Alumni attending the reunion are also invited to a keynote speech from University President Peter Salovey and School of Music Dean Robert Blocker and a concert featuring alumni performances.
The alumni concert, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday in Sprague Hall and will feature performers from a range of instruments and graduation years.
Faculty mezzo-soprano Janna Baty MUS ‘93 will sing “The Old Suffragist,” a piece composed by Juliana Hall MUS ‘87. The piece belongs in a song cycle titled “Through the Guarded Gate,” which is based on poems by Margaret Widdemer. The song was written in honor of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
“It’s a very moving and serious song,” said Baty. “[Widdemer] treated women’s suffrage like it was her daughter and that she was nurturing and feeding it and mothering it for a time in the future that she would never reach.”
The concert will also feature a performance from violist Kimberly Foster MUS ‘04. Foster will play Rebecca Clarke’s 1919 Viola Sonata. The sonata won the Berkshire Festival Competition, which was sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge.
Alumni and current students also have the chance to connect at “studio visits.”
According to Yoo, in these visits, the alumni and current students will form groups based on their areas of study — instrument, composition, conducting or voice type — and have the opportunity to play for each other. Current students will be able to seek advice from and connect with alumni.
The reunion will end with closing remarks from Dean Blocker on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 26.
Phoebe Liu | firstname.lastname@example.org