The Artist Diploma program at NEC offers a limited number of especially gifted performers the opportunity to deepen their artistry, broaden their musical perspective, and explore areas of musical, personal, and professional growth, all with the support of NEC faculty and resources.

The two-year program distinguishes itself through a combination of mentorship, study, and performance opportunities, while taking advantage of the full breadth of educational and musical resources that NEC is uniquely able to provide.

Artist Diploma candidates express an individual musical voice and vision and show distinct promise to make a significant contribution to the musical and artistic landscape in a professional career.

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

Artist Diploma students perform a major recital in each year of residency. Beyond this requirement, the content of the program is individually tailored to meet the unique needs and aspirations of each Artist Diploma candidate.

Artist Diploma in Opera

Find details and profiles of participants here.

Artist Diploma in Instrumental Performance

At this time, the Artist Diploma in Instrumental Performance is offered for those instruments with substantial and significant solo repertoire in the Western classical canon.

Artist Diploma students have the opportunity to perform in our world-renowned Jordan Hall each year. As part of their program responsibilities, Artist Diploma students 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.

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

Application Instructions

Audition Requirements

Participants in the Instrumental Program

Cellist Narek Haknazaryan was the first instrumentalist to enroll in NEC's Artist Diploma program under the new audition system, beginning with the 2009/2010 academic year. 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. Find out more about him in the video profile above with his teacher, Laurence Lesser.

In Fall 2010, pianist Lukáš Vondrácek entered the program. Vondrácek, who gave his first international concert tour in 1997 at age 10, studied with Hung-Kuan Chen at NEC. In the second year of the 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. 2011-12 highlights included appearances with the London Philharmonic, Prague Philharmonia, Stuttgart Philharmonic, and National Symphony (Washington, DC).

Xiang Yu was selected to enter the program in Fall 2012. Winner of the 2010 Menuhin Competition while a sophomore at NEC and a 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition finalist, Angelo has soloed with the Pittsburgh, Auckland, and Shanghai symphony orchestras, the Calgary and Oslo philharmonic orchestras, and the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra. Angelo studies with Donald Weilerstein. Hear Xiang Yu in concert performing works by Franck, Ma, Schubert, Vitali