Neha Middela, Contibuting Photographer

Musician Bryce Dessner ’98 MUS ’99, a member of the American rock band The National, has a long and renowned resume as a composer, classical guitarist and curator — and now he can add a residency at the Schwarzman Center to the list.

Named as the Schwarzman Center’s first artist-in-residence in June, Dessner will collaborate with different artists, engage in public performances and participate in workshops with the Yale community. Dessner will work with artists Julia Bullock, Ash Fure, Nathalie Joachim and Kaneza Schaal, who work across media including voice, instruments and film. One of his first engagements at Yale included a college tea at Grace Hopper College on Nov. 4. 

“I am thrilled to work with the new Schwarzman Center and build on Yale’s history of experimental music and performance — Julia Bullock, Ash Fure, Nathalie Joachim and Kaneza Schaal are among the most important artists working today,” Dessner wrote in an email to the News.

While the Schwarzman Center opened in fall 2021, the center’s programming has been significantly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Associate Artistic Director Jennifer Newman DRA ’11. She added that the programs were “still very much in their early stages.” 

Newman said that the process of selecting the artists who would collaborate with Dessner was an endeavor shaped by Dessner’s “collaborative process.” According to her, Dessner often seeks to create community through his work, such as his curatorial work creating the MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati and the Sounds from a Safe Harbor Music Festival in Ireland.

Newman noted that the artists involved in the collaboration were currently using the space to create original pieces, such as composer Ash Fure, who is currently working on a piece about the “ephemeral nature of performance.”

“It really is thrilling for me to see artists use the space and be really excited about being in the space,” Newman said. “They are very thrilled to be in the Dorm Room for an entire week and have access to the space and to really explore how sound works in a space as unique as the Dome.” 

Benjamin Verdery, associate professor adjunct of guitar at the Yale School of Music and Dessner’s teacher, friend and mentor, concurred with Newman’s comments, adding that it has been “exciting to watch [Dessner] grow musically.” 

Verdery noted that during his time at Yale, Dessner had engaged with a variety of musical influences through his work in classical guitar and creating a band with his brother and other musicians. He added that their friendship and partnership had grown throughout the years, with Dessner composing music for the Ulysses Quartet, a string quartet, who Verdery has performed with.

Thomas Kriegsmann, president of the creative agency ArKtype and Dessner’s producer, said that he was “deeply grateful for the opportunity” to work with Dessner and the Schwarzman Center. 

“The Schwarzman Center’s potential for transforming art, artists and community is boundless, as is the power of creative Centers like this as catalyzing agents in support of the creation of new work,” said Kriegsmann. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with Bryce in the Center’s first years to realize that mission and support artists with such vast potential for resonance. The work made here by Bryce, Ash, Kaneza, Nathalie and Julia will be nothing less than defining, signature works in times that need their voices badly. As a producer of experimental work, these opportunities are essential.”

The Schwarzman Center is located at 168 Grove Street.