Current Students 2016-17
Sakina Abdus Shakur (M.A.R. religion & literature ‘17)
Gabriel Benton (M.M. organ ’18) is a keyboardist with a passion for bringing early music alive to contemporary audiences. He received his bachelor’s degree in harpsichord performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he also worked as a church organist and keyboard technician. In addition to performing on historical keyboards and organ, Gabriel sang in choirs and played recorder with the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra and Mountainside Baroque. He then received a master’s degree in historical performance at the Juilliard School, where he played keyboards and recorders with the period instrument orchestra Juilliard415. He has performed across the country, recently appearing at the Boston Early Music Festival, and with the New World Symphony. He has won several awards including the York Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, the Harold Hunt Organ Scholarship, the Earl Russel Award in Historical Performance, and two summer workshop scholarships from Early Music America.
Elizabeth Bickley (M.A.R. ’18) is interested in the distinction and overlap between sacred and public space and the various communal activities enabled within each. In particular, she will investigate the private and public divide ingrained in societal norms and how such organization shapes religious worship, play, the position of the arts, and communal memory in today’s pluralistic society. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 with a degree in English Literature and Latin American Studies, and spent the last two years working as an administrative and research assistant at a research institute for social science and humanities scholarship. Off the clock, she led tours at her local art museum, served as a stagehand for outdoor performances, and volunteered at city festivals.
Ting (Hedy) Bok (M.A.R. ’18) hails from Hong Kong and has a professional background in innovation consulting, counseling, social media marketing, translation and journalism in Greater China. At the ISM, she engages in the interdisciplinary inquiry of religion and the arts, exploring how Christianity’s many inconvenient truths can become experientially accessible (even transcending linguistic, social, and cultural barriers) through literature, visual arts, and the performance arts. She looks forward to category-defying conversations about the ‘East’, the ‘West’, all that is beyond, and all that is in between. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature and visual arts at Princeton University. Having lived and worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Greece, and the U.S., she is committed to bridging diverse cultures and communities of faith through artistic and scholarly work, as well as personal example.
Emmalee Brown (M.A.R. religion & visual arts ‘17) is a first year M.A.R. student concentrating in religion and the visual arts and material culture. She graduated from Harvard University in 2014 with a degree in history and literature and a secondary field in French literature. Her interests include paleography, the medieval book, and conceptions of piety and power in the Middle Ages. She is originally from Macon, Georgia.
Stephanie Burette (M.Div. ’19) comes from Paris where she studied French literature and paintings. She holds a Ph.D. in French Literature and specialized in the study of art theory and art criticism in the 17th and 18th centuries. She primarily focused on the evolution of the discourses on paintings at a time exhibitions became public at the Louvre. Her interests now are particularly centered on theological questions raised by European religious paintings in the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s also in the course of her Ph.D., while doing research in Oxford, that she joined the Anglican communion and was confirmed at New College in 2010. After teaching French literature in high school, Paris 3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle and Paris 6, she is now a Postulant for Holy Orders (priesthood) in the Episcopal Church (Convocation of Europe).
Bradley Burgess (M.M. organ ‘17) is a South African organist and pianist who comes to Yale via New York, where he was Director of Music & Organist at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (Islip, NY), and maintained a busy teaching studio. He has appeared in recital throughout his home country, and in the UK, Finland, and the US. Bradley holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Cape Town.
Hannah Carr (M.M. choral conducting ‘17)
Molly Channon (M.A.R. religion & visual art ‘17), originally from New Hampshire, gained an early appreciation for the visual arts while living abroad in England and France. She received her B.A. in art history and philosophy (‘14) from Brandeis University, focusing on modern art in Europe and the United States. In addition to her studies, Molly has worked on curatorial and education initiatives at several New England art museums, including the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, and most recently Harvard Art Museums. She looks forward to exploring the intersections of modern and contemporary art and religion.
Evan Cogswell (M.M. organ ‘17) is a first year organ student, studying with Martin Jean. In 2014, Evan graduated summa cum laude from the Hartt School with a dual degree in composition and organ performance. Currently, Evan is the assistant organist at St. Augustine’s and St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Churches in Glastonbury, CT. As a composer, Evan has written several works for organ that he has performed on several occasions, the most recent being a choral setting of “Puer Natus” with organ and flute accompaniment.
Matthew Cramer (M.M. choral conducting ‘17)
Brendan Dempsey (M.A.R. religion & literature ‘17) plans to study religious reconstruction. Having graduated summa cum laude in 2011 with a degree in classics and religion, he spent the next four years writing his first work in this undertaking: a 500-page epic poem in blank verse called “God.” The poem narrates the modern death of God and prophesies/enacts God’s subsequent rebirth in our own time. At Yale, the second (and much longer) phase of Brendan’s project now begins, as he sets about articulating a completely reimagined mythic system in a projected 2000-page work entitled “Scriptures.’ To prepare for this he will continue studying philosophy, theology, ecology, music, mysticism, literature, writing, and other subjects. The completed work, he hopes, “will offer an efficacious spiritual framework to a world as self-destructive as it is desirous of a Sacred now but half-remembered.”
Emily Dolan (M.Div. ‘17) did her undergraduate work at Gordon College, a small school just north of Boston, and then completed a Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut in 19th Century American Literature. Her dissertation focused on American women writers after the Civil War and their efforts to transition popular readership from the Sentimental literature of the first half of the nineteenth century to the Realist literature that marked the final decades. Since she has wanted to be a teacher from her earliest memories, she had originally intended to pursue a position as a literature professor, but has unexpectedly found herself working at a small church near the University of Connecticut and has discovered her deepest joy in teaching within that context. She is looking forward to combining her love of literature with her interests in theology as part of ISM.
Andrew Doss (M.Div. ‘17) is a lawyer from New Orleans focused on criminal, international, and catastrophe law. Growing up in Episcopal parishes steeped in rich, creative liturgy, in 2009 he founded the Worship Society of St. Polycarp, which continues to gather weekly for first century liturgy centered on paperless singing. He is involved in theater and the arts in New Orleans as a performer, playwrite, and organizer. He also enjoys dancing in a popular local mardi gras/charity dance crew, engaging in politics, and costuming for his beloved Saints football games.
Ambre Dromgoole (M.A.R. ’17) is a second-year M.A.R. candidate who dreams of consolidating black religion in the African diaspora and religion and the arts into one concentration. She is interested in studying the complexities in agency that occur for contemporary black women musicians who perform sacred music in secular spaces. She was born and raised in Nashville, TN and received her B.A. in musical studies and religion from Oberlin College & Conservatory. In addition to attending Yale Divinity School, she is passionate about promoting the importance of arts advocacy for communities of color in New York City.
Samuel Ernest (M.A.R. ’17) is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University, where he studied English literature. During his undergraduate years, he spent two terms at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, interned at Image Journal, and studied violin under Ilkka Talvi. His interests surround the intersection of sexuality and writing. They include the reading and writing practices of queer Christians, contemporary gay spiritual autobiography, and gay fiction. During his time at YDS and Berkeley, he has begun to spread his tendrils into queer marriage rites and the theology of desire, and he looks forward to exploring these topics in all of their rich complexities with the ISM. Sam also enjoys playing the violin and, on the rare occasion, reading aloud with loved ones.
Joseph Fala (M.M. organ ‘17), a native of Honolulu, is a 2015 graduate of the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He has spent time working in the architectural lighting industry as well as in the graphic design and photography fields. He comes to the ISM after the somewhat recent realization that the organ is something he’d like to make more than just a hobby in his life.
Zachary Fletcher (M.A.R. liturgical studies ‘17) was born at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and baptized downtown at Christ Church. After five years at St. Thomas Choir School in New York, he attended high school in Middletown, CT (where his family resides now), followed by four years at Harvard College where he sang a lot, and also studied Classics and Linguistics. His senior thesis focused on queer sex, failure and social mobility in Petronius’ infamous Satyricon, the earliest extant example of Latin prose fiction. Zak’s first academic exploration of liturgical studies, his current concentration, was in his junior year at Harvard, in a paper on the gold funerary tablets attributed to the ancient Mediterranean mystery cult of Orpheus. Zak wants to learn how liturgical practices inform and create denominational (and intra-denominational) identity, especially in his own Anglican tradition; he is affiliated with Berkeley Divinity School. He says, “I can’t wait to sing more at Yale!”
Chih Hao Victor Gan (M.A.R. liturgical studies ‘17), brought up as an Anglican in Singapore, spent his college years in London, where he shaped his interest in liturgy and early music. Alongside medical school and graduate work in the gene therapy of immunodeficiencies, he had first-hand exposure to the labyrinthine sociology of academic biomedicine, intellectual engagement with the philosophical aesthetics community, parochial involvement in Anglo-Catholic liturgy and the diverse choral music scene in London. Subsequent professional work in Singapore ranged centripetally from clinical infectious diseases to hospital epidemiology to national health promotion policy, which has led to an interest in exploring the liminality between ethics and liturgical performativity. Victor’s interests include interfaith dialogue, Franco-Flemish polyphony, and reading culinary ethnography.
Dustin Gavin (M.A.R. religion & visual art ‘17) a native of Mobile, Alabama, is a New York City-based digital media artist who has spent the past few years focusing on experimental sound and video works that explore the duplicities of the body, gender, race, and identity. He holds a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University, an M.A. in Media Studies and Film from The New School, and will investigate the roles of race and gender in American Religious History through the lens of the Visual Arts in the Institute of Sacred Music. In exploring this synthesis, Dustin intends to further inform notions of the Black queer religious experience in America by creating digital works which provoke social commentary that complicate the effects and affects of that lived experience. Preoccupied with storytelling, Dustin believes that media has a responsibility to tell compelling stories, foster education, and provide insight to the world around us.
Michael Gilbertson (D.M.A. composition ‘17) is a composer from Dubuque, Iowa. He studied at The Juilliard School and Columbia University. After completing an M.M. at the Yale School of Music, he taught Hearing and Analysis as a lecturer at the YSM, and composition/theory at ECA, an arts magnet high school in New Haven. He has composed numerous choral and vocal works, frequently collaborating with poet and ISM alumnus Kai Hoffman-Krull (M.A.R. ’12). A lifelong Lutheran, Michael is music director at Holy Cross Lutheran in Trumbull, CT. He also serves as artistic director of ChamberFest Dubuque, an annual summer music festival he founded in 2009.
Adele Grabowski (M.M. voice ‘17) is a mezzo soprano in the Voxtet at Yale. She recently received her Bachelors in Fine Arts in vocal performance from Carnegie Mellon University. Adele is active in performing sacred and secular music, performing in both the United States and Europe. Her secondary interests include piano, dance, culinary arts, and religious studies.
Josiah Hamill (M.M. ’18) is an organist, violinist, and pianist who is already known for his passion, musicality, and virtuosity. He has received numerous awards and recognitions in both organ and violin. As an organist, he was twice selected as one of six finalists in the Arthur Poister Scholarship Competition in Organ Playing, an international competition based in Syracuse, NY. He was runner-up in the American Guild of Organists Regional Competition for Young Organists. Josiah received his B.M. with dual concentrations in organ and violin, graduating summa cum laude with distinctions from Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, where he studied under Dr. Joseph Galema (organ) and Linda Wang (violin). He was Lamont’s Presser Scholar and is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda.
Octavia Houha-McAloon (M.M.’18) is at Yale to study choral conducting, after completing her B.M. in classical voice in Seattle. She loves singing all types of music and is usually humming something to herself, but is particularly interested in new music. After her time at the ISM, she plans to go on to either a doctoral program in conducting, or work with a small chamber choir towards keeping a strong presence of modernity in the genre of choral music.
An Ohio native, Andrew Hendrixson (M.A.R. ’18) studied art and English as an undergraduate at Mount Vernon Nazarene University before earning an M.F.A. in painting and drawing in 2011 at the University of Florida. Before coming to Yale, he returned to Mount Vernon as a professor in the department of art and design, had an extended residency at the Whale and Star Studio in Miami, Florida, and drove around the country in a rented van as part of an experimental and performance-based art piece entitled “The House Shows Project.” In addition to engaging the theological implications of the arts, he seeks to find ways to reimagine the discourse of contemporary art away from the cynicism in which it seems content, and toward a more rigorous, embodied, and humanizing endeavor.
Natasha Huang (M.A.R. comprehensive ‘17) comes to the ISM for her final year at Yale Divinity School where, as an M.A.R. Comprehensive student, she seeks interdisciplinary study of how the arts intersect with the sacred and affect people’s lives. Born and raised in Southern California, Natasha attended the University of Southern California, where she double majored in music (violin) and East Asian languages and cultures (she is fluent in Mandarin) and subsequently obtained a master’s degree in the latter. She is also a board-certified music therapist with particular interest in hospice work. Natasha came to Yale after working for five years and hopes to pursue chaplaincy and further graduate study upon finishing. In her spare time, she plays soccer for the Yale Divinity School Paracleats, dances at Yale Swing & Blues, and enjoys going on solitary neighborhood walks.
Tara (Negar) Jamali (M.Div. ‘18) graduated from the University at Buffalo with a B.A. in communication and Italian in 2013. She has participated in a theater festival in Italy, in which she played a lead role in a play by one of Italy’s most popular dramatists, Eduardo De Filippo. She has been involved in campus ministries such as Intervarsity USA, and sang in a Presbyterian church choir for over two years. She is Iranian-American, fluent in English and Farsi as well as Italian.
Weston Jennings (M.M. organ ‘17) originally from Stafford, VA, began his organ studies at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in 2007 and received his Bachelor of Music in organ performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Following graduation, he lived in England for two years as the Organ Scholar of Canterbury Cathedral and Chelmsford Cathedral. During this time, he was also appointed Organ Scholar to the Royal Festival Hall in London. Weston joins the ISM this year as a student of Prof. Thomas Murray, whom he also assists at Christ Church. His other interests include running, cycling, traveling and cooking, as well as watching East German cinema.
Karl Johnson (M.A.R. liturgical studies ‘17) graduated summa cum laude from Samford University in May 2015. As an M.A.R. candidate in liturgical studies, he is interested in the history, development, and meaning of liturgical and lay rites in the Roman Catholic Church. As a church organist and musical composer, Isaac is also invested in the creation, use, and history of Catholic music and hopes to work on constructive approaches to Catholic music and liturgy in the midst of extreme division within the Church after the Second Vatican Council. Isaac is also interested in the history of religion in the American southwest, especially the intersection of Catholic missions and Native American traditions, and hopes to create and discover rituals and life habits for himself and others that heighten religious meaning and environmental sustainability in the midst of a techno-centric, disoriented modern world. He is excited to join the ISM and to become involved in the Yale Group for the Study of Native America and in liturgies at St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel.
Christopher Keady (M.M. organ ‘17) a native of Oregon, grew up in Eugene and most recently lived in Portland. He studied organ performance, English literature, and poetry writing at Lewis & Clark College, graduating in 2010, and subsequently worked as an organist in the Portland area. Most recently he was organ scholar at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and this year will serve as the sacred music intern at the Brick Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Christopher is excited to avail himself of the broad course offerings at the ISM (especially literature), enjoy Yale’s incredible organs, and get to know the Northeast with his husband Dan. Outside of school and work he enjoys bicycling, cooking, and eating out.
Joseph Kemper (M.M. ’18), a native of Oregon, comes to Yale after working five years as a choral director at Winter Park High School in Winter Park, Florida. Prior to that, he attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota where he received a B.M. in vocal music education and graduated with distinction. He found his passion for choral music during his time in the Youth Choral Academy at the Oregon Bach Festival. In addition to choral music, Joseph loves to hike, bike, play board games, and spend time with his wife.
Kathleen E. Kilcup (M.A.R ’18) is a first year M.A.R. student concentrating in religion and literature. After spending five years in the US Army as a Russian linguist, she studied philosophy as an undergraduate and later earned an M.F.A. in poetry from University of California, Riverside. Her interests include the lyric, Eastern Christianity, and notions of incarnational and sacramental language. She is from Oregon.
Michael Kurth (M.Div. ‘18) originally from the Midwest, has spent the last four years in New York City. Along with the ISM, he will be studying at Yale Divinity School and Berkeley Divinity School for preparation for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. Michael has always been involved with church choirs, and hopes the ISM will further develop his lifelong passion for sacred music and budding interest in liturgical studies. Outside of school, he enjoys spending time with people – whether traveling, trying new food, watching sports, or going to the ballet.
James Simon Lee (M.M. ’18) grew up in a musical family, and has sung in church choirs since the age of six. At the age of 8, he started playing the clarinet, and at the age of 11, added the saxophone. Having played in the Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra, James then studied for a bachelor of music degree at the University of Leeds, with a year focusing on solo performance at the University of North Texas. Upon graduation from Leeds in 2009, he took up the role of Lay Clerk at Durham Cathedral. In 2011-12, he studied for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (with Qualified Teaching Status). Since then James has delivered curriculum classroom music across the North East of England.
Stephen McCarthy (S.T.M. ’17) is originally from Lincoln, Massachusetts, and has recently completed a curacy at the Episcopal Cathedral in Birmingham, Alabama. His research interests center on the application of earlier Christian sources in later liturgies, as well as the relationship between early Christian ritual practices and canon formation. He earned a diploma in Anglican studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, which honored him with the Thomas Phillips Memorial Award for exceptional achievement in the study of Anglican liturgy. During the middle year of his M.Div. (YDS ‘14), Stephen was a visiting student of the Evangelisches Stift at the University of Tübingen. He taught Latin at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, New Hampshire between his undergraduate and seminary studies. At Vassar College (A.B. ‘10), he concentrated in German literature, with correlate sequences in classics and philosophy; his senior thesis on Friedrich Hölderlin was awarded the Lillian B. Stroebe Prize for excellence in German.
Megan McDermott (M.Div ‘18) graduated with a degree in creative writing and religious studies from Susquehanna University in 2014, where her interests often overlapped. Megan found herself writing poetry that touched on faith, feminism, and life as a Christian woman. With the encouragement of the ISM, she looks forward to thinking more about how her theological studies and reflections can manifest in creative expression. Megan also hopes to learn more about feminist liturgy. Particularly, she’s interested in the gendered language for God in worship and questions on how to balance liturgical innovation with historically rooted common prayer. Her ultimate goal for her time at Yale Divinity School is to prepare to be a campus minister or university chaplain. She is also a student at Berkeley Divinity School, in Anglican Studies.
Daniel McGrew (M.M. voice ‘17) is a native of Orange, California where he began his performance career as a boy soprano singing in choirs, appearing as a soloist, performing in operas, and recording for film and television. In high school he received his first training as a tenor with Patrick Goeser of Chapman University. In 2010, Daniel earned first prize in the Classical Singer Competition; he was honored as a 2011 Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He is a recent graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied with Salvatore Champagne. His interest in early music is born of two winters at Emmanuel Music’s Bach Institute. Daniel is also passionately engaged with the art-song repertoire and the art of recital singing.
David McNeil (D.M.A ’18) is at Yale working toward a doctorate. in choral conducting. He comes most recently from Indiana University-Bloomington, where he earned a M.M. in choral conducting, studying with Betsy Burleigh, Dominick DiOrio (M.M. ’08; D.M.A. ’12), and Walter Huff. David’s interests include the performance of 17th and 18th century sacred repertoire and the place of vocology and voice pedagogy in choral settings. Before beginning graduate study, David earned a B.A. at Trinity International University in music education, and then for five years taught 1st-12th grade choral music, instrumental music, and drama. When he isn’t in rehearsal, David enjoys time with his wife, Chelsey, and their two sons. He also enjoys woodworking and fishing.
Jane Meditz (M.A.R. religion & music ‘17) is a native of Connecticut whose father graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1986. Her years as a girl chorister in an Episcopal parish laid the foundation for her future in sacred music. Her subsequent years in the Evangelical movement and as a sacred music major at Westminster Choir College continued to expose her to a wide variety of music from the Christian tradition. Her passions include composing sacred choral works and more contemporary songs and hymns, singing in early music ensembles, and participating in the music ministry of a local congregation. While at YDS and the ISM, she hopes to learn more about how others have experienced Christianity through music in the past, and to continue to contribute to this legacy through composing and performing.
Mary Pan (M.M. organ ‘17) is a recent graduate of The Hartt School, University of Hartford, where she studied organ with Patricia Snyder and Renée Anne Louprette. A Connecticut native and a long-time piano student of Margreet Francis at the Hartt Community Division, she took up organ at age sixteen after “discovering” the instrument during a family trip to Shanghai, China. She has been organist and pianist at First Baptist Church, West Hartford, for the past three years, and is currently organ scholar at Trinity Episcopal Church, Hartford. She is interested in pursuing organ performance in both worship and concert, as well as exploring the many other facets of sacred music during her time at the ISM.
Julie Pinsonneault (M.M. ’18), a native of Montreal, holds a master’s degree in organ and musicology from the University of Toulouse, where she recently studied and graduated under the guidance of Michel Bouvard and Jan Willem Jansen. She is also a graduate of McGill University (B.M. ’14), where she studied with John Grew and Hans-Ola Ericsson. Julie is currently co-organist and choir director for the Berkeley Wednesday Eucharist. She wishes to explore new paths in sacred music and liturgy.
Nicholas Quardokus (M.M. ’18) comes to Yale from Indiana University, where he completed his undergraduate degree in organ performance in 2016. He currently studies organ with Martin Jean and serves as organ scholar at Trinity Church on the Green. His interest in the organ is deeply rooted in liturgical music. He has previously served as assistant organist at Trinity Church, Indianapolis, as well as organist for the Royal School of Church Music summer course in St. Louis in 2016. In addition, as competition prize-winner and recitalist, he has played throughout the eastern United States. During his time at the ISM he hopes to continue exploring the organ within the rich context of other sacred art.
James Reese (M.M. ’18) is a Philadelphia native earning his masters in voice as part of the Voxtet at Yale. He earned his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and has since sung throughout the U.S. as an ensemble and solo performer. He is interested in the perspective early sacred music can bring to music being newly written today.
Nathan Reiff (D.M.A. choral conducting ‘17) comes to Yale from New York, where he worked for two years as a conductor with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, a children’s chorus serving about 1,500 students from across the greater New York City area. Prior to that, he received an M.M. in choral conducting from the University of Michigan. Originally hailing from Oregon, Nathan did his undergraduate degree at Yale several years ago. He says, “I’m thrilled to be back!”
Jonathan Sanchez (M.Div. ‘18), from Columbia, South Carolina, is a first-year M.Div. student seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He recently graduated from St. Olaf College, in Northfield, MN, where he majored in bass clarinet performance. He also enjoys playing Renaissance recorder. In addition to being able to study liturgy at the ISM, Jonathan is looking forward to furthering his study of Biblical languages. On a personal note: “Fried chicken is myfavorite food, and I love making puns!”
Katherine Scahill (M.A.R. religion & music ‘17) received her B.A. in music from Wesleyan University. After college, she worked at the Garrison Institute, a non-profit organization in the Hudson Valley that combines contemplation and socially engaged action to increase the presence of self-reflection, mindfulness, and social and emotional learning in education. At the ISM, she has worked on projects at the intersection of musicology, ethnomusicology, and religious studies, focusing on both Christian contemplative traditions as well as Buddhist chanting practices. Through these studies, she seeks to explore the purposes chant and music serve in devotional practices and communal rituals. She is also particularly interested in the writings and devotional music and chant of female ascetics and monastics in Christian and Buddhist traditions.
Hans-Jacob Schmidt (M.A.R. ’18) is a visual artist working with performance, sculpture, and text. He received a M.F.A. in sculpture from Yale University in 2015, as well as a B.A. in art practice from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Beyond showing his own work internationally, he has taught sculpture at California State University, Los Angeles, and most recently worked in the education department of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Using the genealogy of Christ, his most recent work engages questions of image ethics, non-representation, and failed identity formations.
Natasha Schnur (M.M. voice ‘17)
Mark Schultz (M.Div. ‘17) grew up in Southern California and from an early age, felt called to be both a writer and a minister. He studied theater at UCLA and received an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University. His plays include The Gingerbread House (which recently finished a 2 season run in Istanbul) and Everything Will Be Different for which he won the Newsday Oppenheimer Award and the Kesselring Prize. He is a resident member of New Dramatists in New York and is currently working on commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club and the Actors Theatre of Louisville. He also composes music and has a keen love for ritual theater and performance traditions from around the world. A postulant for ordination in the Episcopal Church, Mark is excited for the opportunity to grow as an artist and a seminarian as a member of the ISM community.
David Simon (M.M. organ ‘17) was born in Toronto and first studied music at St. Michael’s Cathedral Choir School. His interests in sacred choral and organ music have led him to study at Yale where he is working towards the M.M. degree in organ with the church music studies certificate.
Xiao Situ (M.A.R. comprehensive ‘17) comes from Brooklyn, New York. She did her Ph.D. studies in art history at Yale, focusing on nineteenth-century American and British art and material culture from a feminist and literary perspective. She wrote her dissertation on the poet Emily Dickinson, focusing on Dickinson’s relationship to the visual and material properties of windows from the 1830s to 1880s. Xiao served as a student deacon at the University Church in Yale while she was working on her Ph.D. She hopes to combine her art history training with pastoral care and theology in her future career. She enjoys reading, cooking, and classical ballet, and is a fan of period detective novels and TV shows. She is also an amateur historian of perfume and fragrance.
Elizabeth Spitz (M.Div. ‘17) is pursuing ordination in the Lutheran church. She was born and bred in San Francisco, where she learned to love the fog. She holds a BA in Drama and Human Biology from Stanford University. Throughout undergrad and since, Liesl has focused on the relationship between art and community development. Her professional experience includes working for the Surdna Foundation in New York, where she conducted research on the role of art in social justice movements. She also worked for FilmAid International, an organization that works with film and media in refugee camps. In 2014 Liesl worked for FilmAid in Nairobi, Kenya then traveled in East Africa and Europe. At YDS she looks forward to studying liturgy, worship and the role of faith in social change.
Addy Sterrett (M.M.’18) was raised in a musical family in the forests of northern Michigan, and discovered her passion for singing at a young age. After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy, she began her undergraduate studies at Michigan State University, and later graduated with a bachelor of music degree from DePauw University. Addy enjoys all things outdoors, biking, kittens, and baking. As a performer, she hopes to have the privilege of sharing the profound beauty of music with those who need it most.
Abigail Storch (M.A.R. ’18) graduated summa cum laude from the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University in 2016, where she studied literature and music. While at Eastern, she served as managing editor of the university’s student newspaper and senior editor of the undergraduate research journal. In the fall of her junior year, Abbie spent a semester at the University of Oxford, where she was awarded both the Frederick Buechner Prize for Creative Writing and the de Jager Prize for her research on early modern devotional poetry. Before joining the ISM, she served as the Luci Shaw Fellow at Image Journal, a literary quarterly of religion and the arts. She looks forward to studying a theology of embodiment and the role of metaphor in spirituality while at the ISM.
Matthew Sullivan (M.M. voice ‘17) is a bass-baritone whose most recent season included performances of Bach’s Missa Brevis (BWV 235) and Matthäus-Passion, Handel’s Messiah, Pärt’s Passio, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, and Faure’s Requiem. Previous seasons have included performances with the Folger Consort, the Boston Early Music Festival, Peabody Consort, Baltimore Baroque Band, Mountainside Baroque, Opera Lafayette, and the American Opera Theatre. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Matt is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied under John Shirley-Quirk and William Sharp.
Jacob Swindells (M.M. choral conducting ‘17)
Maria Terss (M.A.R. religion & visual arts ‘17)
Emily Wing (M.A.R. ’18) graduated from McGill University with first class honours in art history. A research internship at the McGill Faculty of Arts in the summer of 2015 affirmed her love for asking questions and trying to find answers to them. During this internship, Emily committed her summer to digging up eighteenth and nineteenth-century fugitive slave advertisements, which has led to a chapter she is authoring on a Canadian fugitive slave in a book to be published next September. In light of the scant scholarship on Canadian slavery, Emily seized the opportunity to fill a hole, an art she is fervently committed to within and beyond academia. Holes of different kinds can be found in the intersection of contemporary art and religion, which Emily is excited to address throughout or after her aspired doctorate studies!
Sze-Long (Aaron) Wong (M.A.R. ’18) was born and raised in Hong Kong, but now calls Canada his home and native land. He has served as a chorister, choir conductor, and cellist in Anglican churches in Hong Kong and Canada. Before joining the ISM, he was an M.Div. student at Fuller Theological Seminary, and served as a lay worship leader at Richmond Hill Christian Community Church, a Chinese evangelical church in the suburb of Toronto. Aaron holds a B.M. in cello performance from Peabody Conservatory, an M.M. in cello performance from the Juilliard School, and an M.A. in performance arts administration from New York University. He is passionate about guiding faith communities in cultivating their own worship language that is ecumenically minded, historically conscious, theologically nuanced, and culturally distinct. He is grateful that his family is able to join him in New Haven and looks forward to this special season of formation and learning.
Laura Worden (M.A.R. ’18) is originally from Sacramento, California. She graduated from Pepperdine University with a degree in both art history and fine art. Her research interests include the interaction of the Abrahamic faiths, sacred spaces, and rituals in the Middle Ages. As a practicing artist, Laura’s work explores themes of social justice and the art historical canon. She looks forward to further developing a multisensory understanding of the Medieval world and contemporary culture through her studies at the ISM.
Janet Yieh (M.M. organ ‘17) a native of Alexandria, Virginia, is a graduate of the Juilliard School (B.M. Organ ’15) and former assistant organist of Trinity Wall Street in New York. Memorable recent performances for her include a Pipedreams national radio broadcast from Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall with NOVUS NY orchestra, and solo recitals at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Ave, Washington National Cathedral and St. John’s Cathedral in Taipei. She has appeared as harpsichordist with the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and premiered new music for the organ. With Presbyterian and Anglican roots, Janet particularly loves church music and working with choirs and currently serves as organ scholar at Trinity Church on the Green. Janet looks forward to the many collaborative learning opportunities at the ISM and hopes to explore the role of sacred music in liturgy and worship from new perspectives.