Denise Bacon '52, '54 M.M., Piano Performance
Denise Bacon is a gifted pianist, chamber musician, music educator, composer, and author. She is the founder of three music schools: the Kodály Musical Training Institute, the Kodály Center of America and the Dana School of Music. She has been credited as one of the earliest major forces in bringing the “Kodály Concept” (Hungarian approach) to the United States.
Ms. Bacon attended the Dana Hall Schools, which at the time included Ten Acre, Dana Hall and Pine Manor Junior College (now a four-year college with full accreditation.) While at Pine Manor she studied with Scottish-born pianist and composer Helen Hopekirk who also taught at New England Conservatory. She earned a soloist diploma from the Longy School of Music and then studied for six years, in New York, with noted pianist and chamber music artist, Miczyslaw Horszowski. In 1952 she graduated from New England Conservatory with a B.M. in Piano Performance and in 1954, with an M.M. in Chamber Music.
In 1957 she founded the Dana School of Music (DSM) which offered lessons in piano, voice, orchestral instruments, classical guitar and theory for the Metrowest community at large (boys and girls as well as adults.)
In 1966 Ms. Bacon taught a workshop in “Orff and Kodály methods.” After witnessing the overwhelming response to this new “method” she became determined to go to Europe and study it at the source. Later that year Ms. Bacon was awarded a Braitmayer Fellowship to study at the Lizst Academy in Budapest, Hungary and the Orff Institute in Salzburg. Austria.
While studying in Hungary she made arrangements with government officials there to bring a class of mixed-age children of her American pilot class to Hungary to make a film with Hungarian children in order to prove that American children were just as capable as Hungarian children to learn by this method. Her outstanding achievements with this class three years later resulted in a film that astonished everybody and raised all sorts of questions.
In 1969, through a Ford Foundation Grant, Ms. Bacon worked with Peter Erdéi, a young graduate of Budapest’s Liszt Academy, to establish the Kodály Musical Training Institute (KMTI) in Wellesley, Mass. The institute focused on teacher training and attempting to adapt the Kodály concept of music education to American culture. Its main areas of interest were research into American folk music, the development of curriculum and model schools, and the training of master teachers.
In April 1977, Ms. Bacon founded the Kodály Center of America (KCA) to continue KMTI’s pioneering work. KCA had wanted to enlarge its scope of activities by finding a proper repository for its growing accumulation of archival material. KCA established an intensive academic year program of its own, a highly successful summer program, summer courses in collaboration with the Kodály Institute in Kecskemét, and affiliations for master’s degrees with four well-established schools of music. It expanded its presence in the Boston public schools, produced new choral octavos and video recordings, and conducted research in the field of learning disabilities.
Today Ms. Bacon is working on the KCA archives. Part of the archival material will go to the International Kodály Institute in Kecskemét, Hungary; a more complete United States collection will go to the University of Maryland libraries.
She has also composed several books of sight-reading exercises and numerous choral octavos. In 1995 Ms. Bacon retired from her position as the Director of the Kodály Center of America.
An outstanding pianist, Ms. Bacon was a frequent soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra under conductor Arthur Fiedler between the years 1942 and 1962, and has extensive chamber music credentials as well. Her many honors include the Dana Hall Distinguished Alumna Award, an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE), NEC’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 1984, and two medals from the Hungarian government in 1983 and 1989, the KITÜNTETÉST ADOMÁNYOZZA honorary award from the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute in Kesckemét in 1992, and now NEC’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ellis "Larry" Phillips, III '75 M.M., Harpsichord
Ellis “Larry” Phillips, III is known as an organist, harpsichordist, singer and composer as well as for his leadership and involvement with several organizations.
Phillips studied harpsichord at NEC and earned his Master’s degree in 1975 (Historical Performance). He later became President of NEC’s Alumni Council and for the past 17 years has served on NEC’s board, first as a trustee and currently as a lifetime overseer.
Phillips is the president of the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation, founded by his grandfather in 1930. The foundation has a rich history of supporting innovative projects, including the creation of The Catalogue for Philanthropy, for which Phillips serves as a trustee. The catalogue is intended to promote and increase philanthropy in Massachusetts as well as serve as a national model. More recently, the Foundation has lent its support to the creation on an 18th century Bach-inspired organ for a new cultural arts center in Cambridge, Mass.
Phillips is also Chair of the American Friends of Boston Stump, Vice-President of the Partnership of the Historic Bostons, Chair Emeritus of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and is on the Board of Advisors at Emmanuel Music.
Robert Paul Sullivan '60, Guitar Performance
Robert Paul Sullivan is an accomplished musician and beloved educator. As a performer he is known for his solo, chamber, and orchestral performances in the New England region, as well as other parts of the country and Europe. As an educator, Robert has influenced hundreds of students in his devoted tenure at NEC, celebrating his forty-first anniversary this fall.
His performances have included the Boston Symphony Orchestra, most recently the opening Gala concert of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with conductor James Levine in Boston and New York; Boston Celebrity Series; Alea III; New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra; Rhode Island Symphony Orchestra; Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra; Boston Ballet; Boston Opera Company; Musica Viva, and others.
Sullivan has also performed with Broadway productions of Chicago, Ragtime, Fiddler on the Roof, and Man of La Mancha, as well as performing Irish folk music with the band Jug O' Punch, and duets, since the late 1950s, with Thomas Greene. He has also participated several times, as both a member and as president, of the jury at the Emilio Pujol Classical Guitar Competition in Sardinia, Italy. During the summer season, Sullivan is a conductor for the American Mandolin and Guitar Summer School.
In addition to studies at NEC, Sullivan’s education includes: Harvard University Summer School; Universidad de Cervera in Spain and studies with Hibbard Perry, William Sykes, Alexander Bellow, Reye de la Torre, Oscar Ghigla, Emilio Pujol and Barry Galbraith.
He has taught at the University of Rhode Island, Syracuse and Clark Universities and currently teaches at College of the Holy Cross, Anna Maria College and NEC’s Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education. Sullivan joined the college faculty of NEC in 1969 and currently teaches Guitar, Chamber Music, Music-in-Education and Career Skills.
Educator, conductor, and cellist Mark Churchill is Dean Emeritus of New England Conservatory’s Department of Preparatory and Continuing Education, which he led for 31 years. He currently serves as director of El Sistema USA, the advocacy and service organization for American programs that emulate the renowned Venezuelan model of social development through music. During his leadership of the Preparatory School, the program became known as one of the best of its kind in the nation, emphasizing serious, professional training for the pre-college student in addition to numerous community based programs and local, national, and international partnerships.
Churchill has been an active advocate for the improvement and expansion of music education programs in American schools. He is the founder and vice president of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, established in 2002, which draws gifted young musicians from throughout North and South America. For eleven years he served as Resident Conductor and Faculty Chairman of the Asian Youth Orchestra in Hong Kong, a pan-Asian organization founded by the late Sir Yehudi Menuhin.
Churchill is widely known in New England and abroad. He has been Associate Conductor of the Boston Ballet since 1992, and is the founder and Music Director of Symphony Pro Musica, Worcester's Salisbury Lyric Opera, and the Salisbury Chamber Orchestra. He recently led the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra in its annual gala concert. As a cellist Churchill has appeared as soloist, recitalist and chamber music player throughout the United States and on tours of South America and Asia. Most recently he performed in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Taiwan with the Trio Pro Musica.
Churchill studied cello with Laurence Lesser and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from New England Conservatory and earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Hartford. He was married to the late Marylou Speaker Churchill ’67, who had also received the Outstanding Alumni Award in 1988. Churchill currently lives in Newton, Mass. with his twin daughters, Emma and Julia.
Andrés Díaz was born in Santiago, Chile, and began studying the cello at the age of five. After moving to Atlanta three years later, he continued his studies with Martha Gerchefski at the Georgia Academy of Music and later studied with Laurence Lesser and Colin Carr at New England Conservatory, where he earned his Master’s degree in 1985 and an Artist Diploma in 1987.
The sought-after recitalist made his Alice Tully Hall debut later that year after winning the Naumburg International Cello Competition. Díaz has premiered many works including the world premiere of Gunther Schuller’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra at the Brevard Music Center with the Brevard Festival Orchestra, the American premiere of Frank Bridge’s Oration for cello and orchestra, and the Boston and Washington, D.C. premieres of Leon Kirchner’s Music for Cello and Orchestra. Díaz frequently performed with the late pianist Samuel Sanders and is very active with the Díaz String Trio, featuring violinist Andres Cardenes and his brother violist Roberto Díaz ’82.
In 1998 Díaz was awarded with an Avery Fisher Career Grant as well as a generous grant from the Susan W. Rose Fund for Music. In 2009, his recording of Bach Cello Suites was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the “Best Classical Album” category.
A noted educator, Díaz is currently Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He served for five years as Associate Professor of Cello at the Boston University and was Co-Director of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Quartet Program. He also continues to play an active role in chamber music performances with faculty at NEC.
Mr. Díaz plays a 1698 Matteo Goffriller Cello and a bow made by his father, Manuel Díaz. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas and lives with his wife Julie, and sons Peter Manuel and Gabriel Andrés.
Curtis K. Hughes’ music has been called “fiery” in the New York Times, "colorfully scored" in the Boston Globe, and “energetic, compelling stuff that expresses its clangorous sound world expertly” in New Music Connoisseur.
His compositions have been broadcast and performed internationally, from Tanglewood to Bulgaria, and have been championed by the Callithumpian Consort, Primary Duo, the Xanthos Ensemble and many others.
A graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory, and of New England Conservatory, and a former student of Lee Hyla, Michael Gandolfi and Evan Ziporyn, Curtis teaches composition at the Boston Conservatory, and has taught at MIT, Brandeis University and New England Conservatory. He has also served as composer-in-residence for the Radius Ensemble and Collage New Music.
Recently, The Wire Magazine described his CD AVOIDANCE TACTICS as “spiky, dangerous” and “absorbing," and his composition "Two-Faced" was just released on the Yesaroun' Duo CD Heavy Up/Heavy Down.
His most recent project, an operatic re-imagining of the 2008 Vice Presidential Debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, entitled, Say it Ain't So, Joe, was premiered in September of 2009 by Guerilla Opera and received widespread attention.
Future projects include a new children-oriented work for Boston Musica Viva in 2011, and a new CD of ensemble music entitled danger garden to be available early next year.