At NEC, everyone plays their own part. Whether in an orchestra, a jazz ensemble, or a chorus, the musicians play their different parts together to create a beautiful musical whole.
Each day we will give you a fun fact about NEC in thanks of your continued support and involvement in the NEC community.
Deke Sharon '91 founder of the Contemporary A Capella Society just finished producting "The Sing Off" season 3 as well as executive producing the Dutch version. The House Jacks, his performing group, is hailed as the original "rock band without instruments," and were featured in the Monday Night Football theme with Hank Williams Jr. Deke is a prolific a capella arranger having arranged over 2000 songs.
NEC's first Reunion was on Tuesday, July 7, 1868. It was a picnic in Concord Grove. Patrick Gilmore's Band performed. Gilmore wrote the lyrics to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
Julia Ward Howe who wrote the lyrics to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" recited a poem at NEC's 2nd Closing Exercises July 6, 1868. She was Trustee of the Conservatory and attended the opening night of Jordan Hall on October 20, 1903.
Franklin Square Hotel or St. James Hotel was NEC's home from 1870-1902. It's address is 11 East Newton Street in the South End and was featured in the credits of the 80's medical drama "St. Elsewhere."
Composer Dmitri Shostakovich attended an NEC Symphony Orchestra concert in 1959 with a Russian delegation of four other Russian composers. Besides Shostakovich, who acting as chairman, the Russian delegation included composers Dmitri Kabelavsky, Tikhon Khrennikov, Konstantin Dankevich, Fikret Amirov, and music critic Boris Yarutovsky. The delegation also visited Harvard, and attended BSO rehearsals in preparation for performances of their works. In 2006, during the Shostakovich centenniel the composer's son Maxim missed the February concert when a blizzard necessitated rescheduling. However, he was around to help prepare concerts, including an NEC Sinfonietta performance of the Ninth Symphony.
Sherwin Badger, who served on the Board of Trustees from 1953-1971, serving as chair beginning in 1961, was an Olympic figure skater. He won the silver medal in Pairs at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Check out photos from the event here.
The first two African American students to earn Bachelor's degrees were Luther Marion Fuller who earned a Bachelor of Music in musicology (also called Music Research) in 1932 and Anna Brooks Bobbitt who also earned a Bachelor of Music degree also in 1932.
The first student to earn a Bachelor's degree from NEC was Ruth Elizabeth Austen, who earned her Bachelor of Music in violin in 1927.
Lillian (Norton) Nordica graduated June 24, 1879 and was a famous American opera singer considered to be the pop icon of her day. Her image adorned advertisements, calendars, trays and even bookmarks advertising Coca Cola. This was a revolutionary approach to advertising and branding. At the University of Maine at Farmington, it is said that the ghost of Lillian roams the auditorium that was given to the university in her name. Some evenings you are able to still hear her sing in the stage area.
Alumnus, former faculty member, and former Boston Symphony Orchestra percussionist Vic Firth is the founder of Vic Firth, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of drumsticks and mallets. Vic Firth also designs state-of-the-art peppermills and salt mills for Iron Chef Mario Batali.
Conrad Pope '73 is one of four orchestrators for the widely acclaimed movie Argo. He orchestrated the score for the last two Harry Potter movies and worked on the first three movies. He also composed the music for My Week with Marilyn. Read more here.
Herschel Garfein's '82 M.M. opera Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, based on the play by Tom Stoppard, is the first operatic adaptation of a Stoppard play. Garfein is widely known for his Libretto written for Robert Aldridge's Elmer Gantry, which won two 2012 Grammy Awards including "Best Contemporary Classical Composition" won by Garfein and Aldridge. Mark Bennett '88 M.M. who creates music and sound design for plays also won a Drama Desk Award in 2007 for his work on Tom Stoppard's play trilogy The Coast of Utopia.
Cory Pesaturo '08, the only person to major in accordion performance at NEC, was the 2009 World Digital Accordian Champion. He performed at a state dinner at the White House, which he did at the age of 12.
As a teenager, Leonard Bernstein studied at NEC as a day student. Later, he rented a studio on the 4th floor of the 295 Huntington Avenue building in 1941.
NEC's double degree program with Tufts University was established in 1977, Today NEC also enjoys a joint program with Harvard University, in which students earn an AB from Harvard and a Master's degree from NEC in five years. Chad Smith '95 '98 M.M. graduated from the double degree program with Tufts University.
NEC's Preparatory School was founded in 1950; today it serves more than 1,400 students annually and includes programs ranging from Suzuki violin to world renowned youth orchestras.
William David Brohn ’58, currently a member of NEC’s Board of Overseers, won the 1998 Tony Award for Best Orchestration for the musical Ragtime. He was also nominated in the same category three other times: in 2002 for Sweet Smell of Success, 2004 for Wicked, and in 2012 for The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess.
In 1942, Boris Goldovsky opened the NEC Opera School, at which he trained a generation of opera stars.
Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, the mother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, took voice and piano lessons at NEC.
When the Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1881, 19 of its section leaders were NEC faculty members. Check out "Your BSO" videos on YouTube highlighting BSO members that teach at NEC.
As a freshman contemporary improvisation major, Sarah Jarosz '13 was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Country Instrumental Category.
Civil rights activist Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. graduated from NEC in 1954. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave lectures in Jordan Hall from 1956-1967 as part of the Ford Hall Forum series.
NEC alumna Sarah Caldwell '46 was the first woman to conduct the Metropolitan Opera and the founder of the Opera Company of Boston. The first American production of any of Michael Tippett's five operas was Sarah Caldwell's The Ice Break for the Opera Company of Boston in 1979.
In 2009 NEC instituted an Artist Diploma degree in Opera Studies. This fall's production of Orfeo ed Euridice starred three Artist Diploma students: soprano Soyoung Park '12 M.M., '14 A.D. as Cupid, soprano Hae Ji Chang '12 A.D. in the role of Euridice, and mezzo-soprano Jaime Korkos '11 G.D., '13 A.D. in the title role of Orfeo.
Created in 1928, "The Voice of Firestone" was one of the country's first radio programs before it moved on to television in 1949. The award-winning show featured world-renowned opera stars such as Risë Stevens, Richard Tucker, Franco Corelli, Renata Tebaldi, Leontyne Price and NEC alumna Eleanor Steber, who appeared on the program thirty-six times. The valuable "Voice of Firestone" collection is housed in NEC's archives thanks to Harvey Phillips and his friend, Harvey S. Firestone Jr., CEO of Firestone Tire & Rubber Company. Firestone's mother, Idabelle, for whom NEC's music library is named composed the show's theme song. From Measure by Measure: a History of New England Conservatory from 1867.
Sean O'Loughlin '97 M.M. has toured with Grammy winning singer Sarah McLachlan as she performs with symphony orchestras. He will serve as conductor for the tour which will also feature his arrangements and orchestrations of McLachlan's songs. Recent collaborations include such artists as Adele, Hall and Oates, Gloria Estefan, the Indigo Girls, Diana Krall, Itzhak Perlman, Natalie Merchant, Chris Isaak, Blue Man Group, Pink Martini, Brandi Carlile, The Decemberists, Martina McBride, Josh Ritter, Gloria Gaynor, among others. Watch interview of O'Loughlin here.
The founder of NEC, Eben Tourjée, was inducted in the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2006. Four years after the Civil War in 1869, Eben Tourjée responded to a call from Boston bandleader and resident Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore to organize the chorus for the first National Peace Jubilee. Gilmore's proposal included building a structure to seat 50,000 people for a three-day festival and to form a chorus and band with thousands of members so that the President, all governors and congress would attend. Eben "pursuaded the Boston public school officials to let him have thousands of youngsters. He also asked choruses of many other cities to join and more than 100, as far west of the Mississippi accepted when the railroads agreed to carry them at half fare." Read the full article here.
NEC's Jordan Hall, which opened in 1903, is the only conservatory building in the United States to be designated a National Historic Landmark. This designation occurred in 1994.
In 1969, NEC became the first conservatory to establish a Jazz Studies program, under the leadership of then president Gunther Schuller. In 2010 the Jazz Studies program celebrated its 40th anniversary. This year Third Stream now Contemporary Improvisation celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Founded in 1867, NEC is the longest continuously operating independent school of music in the United States. During Eben Tourjée's tenure all materials touted that NEC was the world's largest music school.