The Sounds of Summer

July 16, 2018

I love to play and listen to music year-round, but there is something especially exciting about music in the summer. Some of my fondest memories include traveling to bluegrass festivals during the warm months and playing music with friends, new and old.

I am proud that Yale is working to ensure that young people in our city have the opportunity to experience the power of music. On July 9, more than one hundred New Haven public school students joined our campus for the Morse Summer Music Academy. These talented young people will immerse themselves in music for four weeks while participating in several types of ensembles. Yale School of Music students and alumni and public school teachers will serve as their instructors. During the month of July, you can hear these groups perform pop-up concerts at venues across the city, including the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the New Haven Free Public Library, and the Yale University Art Gallery. You can also hear some of these young artists articulate what music means to them in these moving videosIf you are on campus, I hope you have a chance to attend one of their concerts and support the young musicians who are taking part in the Morse Summer Music Academy at Yale.

Yale is an active participant in New Haven’s music community during the academic year. Each week, School of Music student-teaching artists visit public schools throughout the city and support the work of music educators. These efforts are part of the Music in Schools Initiative, a strategic partnership between the Yale School of Music and New Haven public schools. The program supports the district’s commitment to providing its students with well-rounded educational opportunities, including music classes in nearly every school. The initiative owes its existence to the Yale College Class of 1957 and Lester ’54 and Dinny Morse, who created endowments to support this important work that serves as a national model for arts policy

There are other opportunities to enjoy the music of young artists this summer. In 1939, Ellen Battell Stoeckel, a patron of the arts with deep ties to Yale, left her estate in northwest Connecticut to the university with instructions that it be used for Yale’s summer music school. Today, it is home to the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, one of the nation’s premier summer locations for classical music. Norfolk is an ideal place to listen to award-winning artists in a beautiful setting. Be sure to check out the Emerging Artist Showcase, where School of Music summer fellows perform; these concerts are free and open to the public. 

Several years ago, I had the privilege of playing a special family day concert with the Professors of Bluegrass in the famous “shed” at Norfolk. The shed is an incredible structure made from cedar and California redwood, and it seats over 2,000 people, usually for classical music performances. But for our concert, we told our audience that we had some unusual rules. We asked them to clap during our songs; to shout words of encouragement; and to sing along with us! This was a bluegrass concert, after all. The children in the audience were happy to oblige, and it was one of the liveliest concerts I can ever remember playing. I hope those young listeners were not too disappointed when they later attended concerts where they were expected to sit quietly!

Music is a powerful language—a way of connecting us to one another and creating beauty in our world. For young people, music can open doors to new experiences, ideas, and passions. I hope you will look for ways to support the young musicians in your life, and I hope you will find many occasions to enjoy great music this summer.