International concert pianist, award-winning educator, and indefatigable community volunteer are just a few descriptive titles one can attribute to Robert Blocker, Professor and the Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music at Yale University since September 1995. Mr. Blocker’s energy, vision, commitment and leadership are confluent forces that have upheld and continue to impel the School of Music’s long-standing status as an institution of international distinction.
Robert Blocker began his study of piano at the age of five, presenting his first public recital two years later. At the age of 15, Mr. Blocker made his orchestral debut at the historic Dock Street Theater in Charleston, South Carolina. During the ensuing years, he has presented concerts throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, China and several Pacific Rim countries, including orchestral engagements with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, Houston Symphony, Monterey Philharmonic, Prague Chamber Orchestra, and Daejeon Symphony. These recital appearances and orchestral engagements have won him critical acclaim as noted in the Los Angeles Times review: “…great skill and accomplishment, a measurable virtuoso bent and considerable musical sensitivity…mesmerizing moments.” His remarkable pianism embraces a range of artistry that moves from poetic introspection to bold virtuosity which has won him a large and devoted audience.
Prior to his Yale appointment, Robert Blocker served as Dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA, where his responsibilities included six academic departments as well as public arts venues. The public arts programs under his direction included the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, the Center for the Performing Arts, the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. Mr. Blocker has received numerous honors for his achievements as both an artist and an educator, including the National Piano Foundation’s Artist Teacher Roster (1981), Artist-in-Residence at the South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts (1985), Baylor University’s Outstanding Professor (1986), and the state of South Carolina’s Order of Palmetto (1993). Among his 17 biographical listings are Who’s Who in America and the International Who’s Who in Music. A graduate of Furman University, Robert Blocker earned the Master of Music and DMA degrees in Piano Performance at the University of North Texas. He holds honorary degrees from these institutions.
Robert Blocker’s innumerable contributions to the music community include a service as President of the California Council of Fine Arts Deans, presidency of the national music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda, membership on the Nominating Committee of the International Council of Fine Arts, membership in the National Association of Schools of Music and membership on several advisory boards for arts institutions including, the prestigious Avery Fisher Artist Program and the Stoeger Prize at New York’s Lincoln Center. He has also served as a consultant to major educational institutions and agencies. A frequent speaker at professional conferences for the arts and higher education, he has published articles in several national journals. He edited The Robert Shaw Reader, published by the Yale University Press in 2004. Mr. Blocker also appears regularly on radio and television. In 2000 Steinway and Sons featured Robert Blocker in a film commemorating the tercentennial of the invention of the piano. Mr. Blocker is now active as a board member of the Governor’s School of South Carolina and chairs their Board of Visitors committee, a position appointed by Richard Riley, President Clinton’s Secretary of Education.
“Creative people are compelled to push into a forest where there is no guide. To risk. To stand right out on the edge. Such a journey, one that travels the inner resources of the imagination, requires courage that few ever realize or understand.”
– Dean Robert Blocker