The Artist Diploma is the highest-level designation offered by New England Conservatory and is currently awarded in three categories: the Artist Diploma in Instrumental Performance, the Artist Diploma in Opera, and the Artist Diploma in Orchestral Conducting. The program is extremely selective, with one candidate typically admitted to each of the programs per year. Artist Diploma students are given a full tuition scholarship and a $10,000 annual stipend.

The Artist Diploma program at NEC offers the opportunity to deepen artistry and broaden musical perspective, all with the support of NEC faculty and resources. The two-year program distinguishes itself through a combination of mentorship, study, and performance opportunities.

Artist Diploma candidates must possess an individual musical voice and be emerging into a professional career that will make a significant contribution to the musical landscape.

Artist Diploma in Opera

Find details and profiles of participants here.

Artist Diploma in Orchestral Conducting

Find details and success stories here.

Artist Diploma in Instrumental Performance

The Artist Diploma (AD) in Instrumental Performance is offered for those instruments with substantial and significant solo repertoire in the Western classical canon.

Artist Diploma (AD) students are individually supported by NEC's College Artistic Manager in securing performance opportunities throughout the east coast. In addition to the annual opportunity to perform a solo recital in world-renowned Jordan Hall, recent NEC AD students have performed at the Kennedy Center, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and various concert series throughout the region. AD students also perform a concerto with one of NEC's orchestras in Jordan Hall or Symphony Hall. Recording sessions in Jordan Hall are also available. AD students are expected to play an active role in the musical life of the Conservatory during the required two years’ residence, participating in institutional outreach and demonstrating their commitment to musical artistry.

AD violinists will have the opportunity to use NEC's Joachim-Ma Stradivarius violin during their residency.

The program typically admits one student each year, following final live auditions before the Artist Diploma Committee.

Application Instructions

Audition Requirements

AD in Instrumental Performance current and former students

Alexi Kenney, violin, current AD student: Recipient of a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant during his first year as an Artist Diploma student at NEC, Alexi has recently give recitals at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, Festival Napa Valley, Kennedy Center, Jordan Hall and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Having also won the 2013 Concert Artist Guild Competition, Alexi has soloed with various orchestras in the U.S. and Europe, including a performance of John Adams' Violin Concerto in Symphony Hall with the NEC Philharmonia. Alexi currently studies with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried and performs on the Joachim-Ma Stradivarius violin on loan from NEC.

Cristian Budu, piano, current AD student: Winner of the 2013 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition, Cristian has soloed with orchestras in South America and Europe, including Stuttgart Radio, Brazilian, Petrobas and Parana Symphony orchestras, and Orquestre de la Suisse Romande, Minas Gerais Philharmonic and Sao Caetano do Sul Philharmonic. In the U.S. Cristian has given recitals in Jordan Hall, Rockport Music Festival, the Harvard Musical Association, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Bay Chamber Concert Series. Cristian currently studies with Wha-Kyung Byun.

Yoojin Jang, violin, AD '15: Winner of the 2016 Sendai International Violin Competition, Yoojin has appeared as soloist with Ivan Fischer's Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Bulgaria National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, the Erato Ensemble, the Extremadura Orchestra, and the Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo. Yoojin has also won all of the top youth competitions in Korea, and was prize winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Tchaikovsky Homeland International Competition for Young Musicians, the Yehudi Menuhin Competition and the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. Yoojin is currently pursing a Doctoral of Musical Arts at NEC, studying with Miriam Fried.

Angelo Xiang Yu, violin, AD '14: Winner of the 2010 Menuhin Competition while a sophomore at NEC and a 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition finalist, Angelo has soloed in North America with the Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver and Houston symphonies, and internationally with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Munich Chamber Orchestra, and Oslo Philharmonic. During his Artist Diploma studies at NEC, Angelo was also featured as an Artist-in-Residence on America Public Media's Performance Today and performed the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 with the NEC Philharmonia in Symphony Hall. Angelo studied at NEC with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried.

Lukáš Vondrácek, piano, AD '12: Winner of the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition, Lukas gave his first international concert tour in 1997 at age t10. In the second year of his studies in the Artist Diploma program, Lukas won first prize, the Grand Jury Prize, and four other prizes at the 12th Unisa Vodacom International Piano Competition in Pretorio, South Africa. Highlights included appearances with the London Philharmonic, Prague Philharmonia, Stuttgart Philharmonic, and National Symphony (Washington, DC). Lukas studied with Hung-Kuan Chen during his time at NEC.

Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello, AD '11: Hakhnazarayan was the first instrumentalist to enroll in NEC's revamped Artist Diploma program, studying with Laurence Lesser. In addition to a Jordan Hall recital, he performed as soloist in Boston's Symphony Hall with the NEC Philharmonia. The summer after graduating from the program, he won the Gold Medal, the audience prize, and the Prize for Best Performance of the Chamber Concerto at the 2011 XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition. His 2011-12 season included his debut with the Chicago Symphony and concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra and Mariinsky Orchestra.