School of music

School Notes: School of Music
November/December 2021

Robert Blocker |

Convocation held in person for first time since 2019

The School of Music welcomed new and returning students to campus in September for a convocation at which Dean Robert Blocker presented William Purvis, faculty horn player and director of the Morris Steinert Collection of Musical Instruments, with the school’s Gustave Jacob Stoeckel Award, which recognizes those who “have made extraordinary contributions to the Yale School of Music.” Purvis, Blocker explained, organized outdoor performances in spring 2021 for the school’s brass and woodwind players, who had been excluded from other performance activities for pandemic-related health and safety reasons. Blocker called Purvis’s work a “miracle.” 

Blocker presented the school’s Cultural Leadership Citation to Krista Johnson, the school’s concert office manager and health and safety leader, and to Dr. Stephanie Spangler, the university’s vice provost for health affairs and academic integrity, Title IX coordinator, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive services, and COVID-19 coordinator, “for what they have done for us and what they are still doing” to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. 

University president Peter Salovey announced at the School of Music convocation that faculty violinist Syoko Aki ’69MusM will retire at year’s end and that her teaching studio will thereafter bear her name. Salovey also announced that he would recommend to the Yale Corporation that faculty clarinetist David Shifrin and faculty cellist Paul Watkins each receive an endowed professorship—the Samuel Sanford Professorship for Shifrin and the inaugural Polak Family Professorship, named for former university provost and current William C. Brainard Professor of Economics, Ben Polak. Current Provost Scott Strobel officially welcomed new and returning students to Yale.

The ceremony, which featured performances by faculty violinist Tai Murray, Watkins, pianist and deputy dean Melvin Chen ’91, and Blocker, a pianist, was streamed live.

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