School of music

School Notes: School of Music
March/April 2024

José García-Léon |

Remembering a beloved professor

Professor Emeritus of Music and alumnus Willie Ruff ’54MusM died on December 24 in Killen, Alabama. He was 92. Ruff’s contributions to jazz, which he pointed out is “America’s musical art form,” included the establishment of a “conservatory without walls” at Yale and beyond, an “invisible institution” through which African American musical traditions are passed from artists to audiences, including thousands of schoolchildren in New Haven and elsewhere. In addition to a career in which he performed with Lionel Hampton’s band and, for 50 years, with pianist Dwike Mitchell, Ruff immersed himself in scholarship, discovering musical ties between African American and Native American communities and psalm singers of the Scottish Hebrides. Ruff served on the School of Music faculty from 1971 until his retirement in 2017 and received an honorary doctorate from the university in 2018. A full obituary was published on the school’s website on December 28 and in the New York Times on December 29. Read the Yale Alumni Magazine remembrance.

Recent alumnus among competition winners

In November, percussionist Michael Yeung ’22MusM, ’23MusAM, ’24MusAD, was among the winners of Young Concert Artists’ 2023 Susan Wadsworth Final Auditions. Yeung received YCA’s three-year Jacobs Fellowship, which “takes artists to new levels of confidence and creative growth, offering a holistic combination of digital tools, training, mentorship, community engagement, project development, and performance opportunities,” according to the organization’s website. 

Noted musical artists on campus

At the beginning of the second semester, the School of Music welcomed such internationally celebrated artists as soprano Renée Fleming, pianists Hélène Grimaud and Emanuel Ax, and jazz bassist Linda May Han Oh to Yale for performances. Composer David Sanford also visited the School of Music for a performance of his music and works by students on the New Music New Haven series. 

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