There’s a new paper at Juilliard and it’s entirely student-run. The Yard debuted in September and it is the brainchild of piano doctoral candidate Benjamin Laude, who said he saw a need for an independent publication at Juilliard that would address areas of student life and other issues that were not necessarily right for The Journal. With the help of cello master’s candidate Patrick McGuire and about 20 other “YardWorkers” (including reps from every division), Laude began working in July to set up the foundations for what he hopes will be a monthly paper.
The first issue—eight pages on newsprint, along with an online edition—had more than 10 full-length submissions and featured student opinions on Juilliard’s expansion to China, a Q&A with composer Missy Mazolli, a reflection on the former Lincoln Center Milstein Plaza from alum Rob Walker, and the sheet music of a new composition by third-year pianist Han Chen. “It’s media in a broader sense,” Laude told The Journal. “We’re not just covering stuff, we’re also producing it and generating it,” he added, expanding on an idea from brothers Doug Balliett (an alum and fellow of the Academy) and Brad Balliett (an Academy alum) to print a new piece of music in each issue.
While The Yard is based at Juilliard, Laude is also encouraging students from other art schools around the city to contribute. And rather than having The Yard simply be a paper, he’s aiming to create a social community—one that takes issues that students regularly discuss in casual settings to another level. McGuire has been posting new content and updating a Yard Facebook page and blog regularly. The community got a boost at the paper’s launch party, in midtown in September, which was part of an occasional off-campus performance art series put on by Juilliard students. At the party, students and alums dressed in their funkiest get-ups to perform Debussy and Arvo Part, alumna Mary Ellen Beaudreau danced, and Laude rapped about The Yard.
While Juilliard has never had a long-running student newspaper, The Yard joins a small list of other (now defunct) student publications. In 2010-11, there was an occasional paper called The Rag Times (which was co-founded by Laude) that was run as an Office of Student Affairs-sponsored group. While it didn’t end up coming out again last year, “there’s been a feeling that The Rag proved that it was possible; it would just take a little bit more planning and a little more personnel,” Laude said. This summer, having completed his doctoral class requirements, he was able to make the time to do things like spend five sleepless nights laying out the paper and setting up the framework for a more sustainable publication. While the cost to print the first issue was a birthday gift from Laude’s father, costs for future issues will tentatively be covered by funds raised from a Kickstarter campaign.
The Yard has generated a lot of enthusiasm among students and alumni—people who clearly have a lot to say. “I love the way The Yard is put together, and I especially appreciate the Backyard,” violin master’s student Dima Dimitrova told The Journal. As for the future continuing to be bright—it’s all about time.