Scene on Campus

Hard-working idyll

Yale's Summer School of Music.


Sibelius did it. Rachmaninoff did it. You, too, can spend your summer days on a nineteenth-century estate in Norfolk, Connecticut, making splendid music in the grass—if you're good enough. The Yale Summer School of Music accepts only 40 of the 300 or so young instrumentalists who apply every year to its chamber music program, housed at the former home of arts patron Ellen Battell Stoeckel (1851–1939).


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During her lifetime, Stoeckel brought the world’s greatest musicians to her estate for public concerts. In her will, she left the property “for the benefit and development of the Yale School of Music,” and today students and leading musicians perform there every summer in Yale’s celebrated Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. (Concerts take place in the 1906 Music Shed. Playing outside is for fun, or photography sessions.)

When the wind quintet shown here attended last year, they spent some six hours a day practicing, performed weekly, and went to lectures and concerts almost every night. (Left to right: Brendan Ryan, Kemp Jernigan, Dana Cullen, Brittany Harrington, Wonkak Kim.) The setting was like being “in a Fitzgerald novel—it’s frozen in time,” says flutist Ryan, 22. “It’s just an ideal place to make music.”  

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