Hometown: Santiago, Chile
Major: Viola Performance
Current Teacher: Kim Kashkashian
How did you become interested in NEC and why did you choose to study at NEC?
"I became interested in NEC mainly because of its outstanding faculty. My first viola teacher at home really admired Kim Kashkashian, which made me really admire Ms. Kashkashian. At that time studying with her was beyond consideration, an unattainable idea. Before coming to the US, I knew very little about American music schools/universities. This changed the summer between my junior and senior year of high school when I went to a college fair at a music festival. When I got to the NEC stand, I grabbed a brochure with the faculty list—as I did with many other schools. When I saw Kim Kashkashian’s name I froze and thought “Wow! So that’s where she is! I want to go there!” After that, I moved my senior year of high school to an arts boarding school in the US. When I asked my teacher there about schools, he mentioned NEC. He recommended I apply for Kim Kashkashian’s studio, but he also said “You can’t go wrong with any of the viola teachers at NEC, it’s the place to be for a violist!” Later on I learned that the faculty members for other majors are also incredible musicians. To top it off I got a great feel from the city of Boston the first time I visited. It made me place NEC at the very top of my list of schools."
What do you like about your program/major, and what do you like about NEC?
"I like that NEC is a small compared to others. You get a lot of attention from your teachers and really feel that you are part of a community. The students at NEC are very talented! There are even some students who participate in international competitions and prestigious music festivals, but everyone has a passion for learning, a sense of modesty, and support for their fellow students. Another aspect I really appreciate about NEC is that the faculty members are not only great teachers, but also fabulous, “superstar” performers. Faculty recitals at NEC are always a great source of inspiration!"
Can you think of a particular moment or experience at NEC that was memorable?
"This past year I went to a lot of good concerts at NEC and in Boston. The one that was most memorable was one from the “Music for Food for Music” series. This is an initiative where NEC faculty, alums and students perform to help people bring food or cash donations to the Greater Boston Food Bank instead of buying tickets. This particular concert featured NEC faculty Miriam Fried, Lucy Chapman, Kim Kashkashian, as well as Dimitri Murrath and NEC student Deborah Pae. It was the best chamber music playing I have ever seen! My friend and I were on the verge of tears."
Which of your Liberal Arts courses did you find most engaging and why?
"Even though some people assume the freshman Liberal Arts curriculum will be tedious, I thought my College Writing class was very interesting. This class is based on writing and research skills. I appreciated the liberty we were allowed in this class to conduct research on topics that we really cared about. As my final project I analyzed a piece of music by a Chilean folk artist from a social, cultural, communicational and historical perspective, in relation to the struggle that the native peoples of my country have experienced. It was very motivating to work with something you can easily relate to."
Have you participated in any Entrepreneurial Music programs or courses? If so, what did you get out of the experience? If not, why might you want to participate in the future?
"I haven’t yet. I look forward to taking the required Entrepreneurial Musicianship class on junior year. I think the creation of this new department is a very realistic, “down to earth” initiative, which aims to meet our passion for music with skills such as marketing, financial management, and communication, etc. In a society where the arts are not the priority for everyone, these skills will allow us musicians to show what music means for us and to convince others of the importance of music. It allows us to interact with society instead of feeling like “museum pieces” or misunderstood crazy people who wear tuxedos."
What are your plans/goals after NEC?
"I still don’t have very clear plans after graduation. Many people do both their undergraduate and graduate studies at NEC, for which they have good reasons! NEC has everything you need to become a well-rounded musician; I imagine it must be hard to take all the courses you’d like to in only four years. I will definitely consider this as an option when I have to start looking into schools for my Master’s degree. However, I would also like to get a sense of the music environment in Europe. Once I finish my studies, I want to spend a lot of time performing. Orchestra? Chamber music? Solo? I don’t know yet. But performing! After some time, I want to “pay back,” or rather “pay forward,” and teach the younger generations of musician."
What do you do outside of class?
"I spend most of my free time with my friends. Most of them are in my class, so this past year we all lived in the residence hall which was very convenient for hanging out. We would play cards, chat, cook, eat out occasionally, or go for a walk. A year in Boston has made walking my number one hobby! Some things that helped me get through the winter months this past year was exercising and attending a lot of concerts. There are so many performance offerings in Boston and Cambridge, and most of them are free or have discounted admission for students. I remember going to two concerts in a row some days!"
Are there any other things about you, NEC, or your experience here that you would like to mention?
"I will not use names in case this is too embarrassing…I will never forget the time when a teacher started jumping, dancing, and boxing in a lesson to encourage the student to play a piece a certain way. I thought it was cool that the teacher was not afraid of what may be considered “making a fool of yourself” in order to get his/her point across and find the right mood for a piece."