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SFCM Announces Winners of 2016 Rubin Institute for Music Criticism

October 24, 2016 by Alexandra Gilliam

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) today announces the winners of the 2016 Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music CriticismLucy Caplan, a PhD candidate at Yale University, was chosen by a panel of prominent national music critics to receive the $10,000 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism for demonstrating outstanding promise in music criticism. The Rubin Prize is intended to support further study in the field of music criticism and is disbursed over a two-year period. The Institute, as part of its mission to initiate public discourse on the topic of music criticism, also invited audience members to critique a concert by the San Francisco Symphony. John Masko of Rhode Island, a graduate student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, was selected by the panel as the recipient of the $1,000 Everyone's a Critic Audience Review Prize.

San Francisco Conservatory of Music President David H. Stull and Stephen Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt & Co. and benefactor of the Rubin Institute, announced the award winners at the Institute's closing ceremony this morning.

"I am very pleased to extend my congratulations to Lucy Caplan," says Stull. "She and her colleagues were outstanding and served as excellent ambassadors for our partner schools. We are honored to be working on this program with our friends at the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Cal Performances (2014), Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. I am deeply grateful to Steve Rubin for his generous and ongoing support of this endeavor."

"Lucy has an extraordinarily crystal-clear thought process," says Rubin. "Every idea is laid out and explained with a beginning, middle, and an end, and is filled with intelligent, insightful analysis coupled with elegant writing."

At Yale, Caplan's focus is on American studies and African-American studies, and her dissertation centers on opera and African-American culture during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While at Yale, she also earned a master's degree in public humanities, and she has held internships at Boston Lyric Opera, West End Museum, and the Cambridge Historical Society. She is a graduate of Harvard College, where she was principal violist of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and received the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize and the David McCord Prize for Artistic Excellence. Especially interested in the connections between music and activism, Caplan studied social entrepreneurship as a Music Fellow at the Dekeyser and Friends Academy, and recently served as a teaching assistant for the online course Music and Social Action. She is currently a graduate fellow at Yale's Beinecke Library, where she is working on an exhibit about the Harlem Renaissance.

"I am incredibly grateful to Steve Rubin and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for making this fantastic program possible," says Caplan. "From the first day of the Institute, I have been consistently amazed by the brilliance and extraordinary dedication of the critics and student fellows. I am deeply honored to have received the Rubin Prize in Music Criticism, and more inspired than ever to keep writing about music."

In addition to the $10,000 Rubin Prize, Caplan will be offered an internship with San Francisco Classical Voice (SFCV), a major Bay Area music publication. Tysen Dauer, a fellow from Stanford University who demonstrated a strong showing during the Institute, will also be offered an internship. As part of SFCV's Emerging Writers Program, the interns will write one review a month - wherever the writers are based in the country - under the mentorship of some of SFCV's most highly accomplished music critics.

The winning reviews may be viewed online at

About the Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism

The first program of its kind focusing on music and music criticism, the Rubin Institute brings together before the public national music journalists, renowned musicians, and aspiring young writers, combining the wisdom and insight of today's highly esteemed critics, the artistry and daring of acclaimed musicians, and the energy and promise of tomorrow's music journalists.

The biennial Rubin Institute features keynote addresses by national critics (Writers Panel) and public concerts by acclaimed musicians from the solo, chamber, orchestral, and operatic stages. The performances are reviewed by a hand-selected group of student writers (Rubin Institute Fellows) from renowned colleges and conservatories, and the Writers Panel critiques their work in private workshops and public sessions.

Founded in 2011 by Stephen Rubin, the Rubin Institute was originally established at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 2012 as a symposium for the advancement of the art and practice of American music criticism. In 2014, the Institute moved to its new home, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The 2016 Rubin Institute for Music Criticism

The 2016 edition of the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism took place October 20-24, and featured partnerships with acclaimed performing organizations: the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Members of the Writers Panel included some of the most respected journalists in the music industry: Alex RossThe New Yorker magazine critic and author; Anne Midgette,The Washington Post critic and author; Heidi WalesonThe Wall Street Journal critic and author; John Rockwell, writer, critic, and former editor of The New York Times Sunday Arts & Leisure section; Joshua KosmanSan Francisco Chronicle critic; Tim Page, author, professor, and former Washington Post critic; and Stephen RubinLucy Caplan emerged from a field of 17 Rubin Fellows who took part in the Institute, hailing from some the nation's top colleges and conservatories: the University of California, Berkeley, The Juilliard School, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Stanford University, and Yale School of Music.

Full details on the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, including select concert reviews, biographies on all those involved, concert programs, award ceremony photos, and more may be found at the Institute's website,

The Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, the $10,000 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism, and the $1,000 Everyone's a Critic Audience Review Prize is made possible by the generosity of Stephen Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt & Co.


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