You didn’t have to be a parent of any of the student performers representing 27 New Haven public schools at a Morse Summer Music Academy concert to feel extremely proud.
Now in its fifth year, the academy held its concert in the Morse Recital Hall at Yale’s Sprague Hall, playing to an enthusiastic, packed house. During their multi-week program, the Academy fosters a partnership between the Yale School of Music and New Haven Public Schools (NHPS).
The collaboration is offered to students who exhibit “work habits conducive to an intensive music instruction program, including at least a ‘B’ average on their NHPS report card.” According to Yale School of Music Associate Dean Michael Yaffe, it “provides a comprehensive music program that changes the lives of many students through the skills and passions that they develop through music-making.”
Yaffe added that “great music-making affects families across schools, cultures, religions, and backgrounds. To me, it shows the power of music to bring people together — and we have that comprehensively in New Haven through this partnership.”
Starting July 6, some 142 students, grades 4 through 11, attended a rigorous program of lessons, rehearsals, and classes, receiving instruction from a combination of Yale School of Music graduate students, faculty, and alums; New Haven Public School music teachers; and guest artists for four full weeks.
The benefit of the intensive training was on full display at Wednesday’s concert, which featured the Morse Academy Camerata, string orchestra, concert band, symphonic band, wind ensemble, chorale, and a host of conductors.
Yale School of Music’s Rúben Rodriguez (pictured), lead teacher of the Music in Schools Initiative, an ongoing collaboration between the Yale School of Music and the New Haven Public Schools, addressed the audience after the concert, proudly noting that New Haven is “the only city in America where this level of music-making is possible.”
Opening the concert this past Wednesday were two Camerata numbers, “Tambourin” and “Estrellitas,” followed by an eclectic and exuberant mix of offerings that included the string orchestra’s dramatic “Curse of the Rosin Eating Zombies from Outer Space” by Richard Meyer, Larry Moore’s arrangement of the King of Pop ...
... Randall Standridge’s recent “Aggresivo,” and Richard Saucedo’s “Sneak Attack!” Among some of the chorale numbers was Gershwin’s “Summertime” ...
... and a rousing rendition of “Shosholoza,” featuring traditional South African music and dance.
After the concert Rodriguez lauded New Haven teachers, asking them to stand and be recognized. Dean Yaffe and Rodriguez also celebrated four exceptional students, in memory of Yale School of Music visionary and the first Music in Schools Initiative manager, the late John Miller.
The award recipients were Kimberly Sullivan (trumpet, Sound High School), Reval Martinez (saxophone, Hillhouse High School), Iyonna Pottinger (flute, Hillhouse High School), and Javier Padilla (clarinet, Coop). For their dedication and leadership, each student received a brand new instrument, made possible through the John Miller Fund.
Students wishing to apply to the summer music academy can apply online or through their NHPS music teachers in their respective schools.