In 1881, Henry Higginson called upon 19 members of the New England Conservatory faculty to serve as section leaders in his new Boston Symphony Orchestra. The connection persists—today half of the BSO is composed of Conservatory faculty and alumni, including a number of recent graduates. NEC students routinely follow up a lesson or practice session by crossing the street to hear their teacher perform in Symphony Hall, week after week, at little or no ticket cost.
Each year during spring semester, NEC celebrates its BSO brass faculty and their students at a Brass Bash concert and at the Preparatory School's all-day brass workshop and ongoing Brass Masters series.
BSO veterans routinely coach NEC orchestra sectionals, coach chamber music, and teach string orchestral repertoire classes.
Guest artists performing on BSO concerts frequently give masterclasses at NEC during their time in Boston, under the auspices of NEC's Richard P. and Claire W. Morse Visiting Artist Fund.
Through selection by competition, NEC Preparatory and College students have been concerto soloists in Boston Pops spring concerts in Symphony Hall each year for many years. Preparatory students frequently perform in the BSO's fall Family Concerts. NEC ensembles routinely perform in Symphony Hall open house events. NEC's orchestral conducting students also conduct portions of Boston Pops concerts.
Since the 1990s, BSO assistant conductors have been frequent guests at NEC, leading concerts by student orchestras. NEC orchestras have also been invited on several occasions to be part of the BSO's assistant conductor audition process, serving as one of the orchestras for applicants. BSO guest conductors have also visited NEC for impromptu reading sessions. More on this.
During the 2013-14 concert season, NEC was invited to take part in the new BSO Insight Series, a program of concerts that provided supplementary content to enrich the understanding of listeners attending a featured BSO program. So, for example, in fall 2013, the Conservatory offered numerous Benjamin Britten performances surrounding the BSO's subscription series concerts of Britten's War Requiem, that was a feature of the Britten centennial celebrations. In spring 2014, NEC offered two concerts that demonstrated the way earlier composers influenced Beethoven's piano music and how he in turn influenced piano music that came after him. The Insight series will continue in the 2014-15 season. In addition, NEC Piano Department Chair Bruce Brubaker and Ran Blake, founding chair of NEC's Contemporary Improvisation department, presented a joint lecture/performance demonstration with "Beethoven as Improviser" as a departure point, and looking more generally at the line where improvisation ends and formal composition begins. And, in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts and its Sound Bites series, NEC's jazz and CI students presented a program examining Beethoven's legacy among contemporary improvisers
NEC also worked with the BSO to present two Prelude concerts that preceded the premieres of new works by the BSO. Somewhat whimsically titled Do You Hear What I hear?, the programs were curated by the BSO composers, who were asked to choose music that had been an important influence on them. In 2013-14, the composers were Mark-Anthony Turnage and Bernard Rands.
NEC representation in the BSO
Malcolm Lowe, concertmaster, NEC College faculty
Elita Kang, assistant concertmaster, NEC Preparatory faculty
Julianne Lee '07 G.D., acting assistant concertmaster, NEC Preparatory and Continuing Education faculty
Bonnie Bewick, NEC Preparatory faculty
Bo Youp Hwang, NEC Preparatory faculty
Valeria Vilker Kuchment, NEC College faculty
Glen Cherry '95
Haldan Martinson '97 M.M., principal
Jason Horowitz '93, '96 A.D., NEC College and Preparatory faculty
Cathy Basrak, assistant principal, NEC College faculty
Edward Gazouleas, former NEC College faculty
Michael Zaretsky, NEC Preparatory faculty
Rachel Fagerburg '81
Kasuko Matsusaka, NEC Preparatory faculty
Daniel Getz '11
Mickey Katz '03, NEC Preparatory faculty
Blaise Dejardin '07 M.M., '08 G.D.
Thomas Rolfs '78, principal, NEC College faculty
Benjamin Wright, second trumpet, NEC College faculty
Thomas Siders, assistant principal trumpet, NEC College faculty
Michael Martin, fourth trumpet, NEC College faculty
Mike Roylance, principal, NEC College faculty
Jessica Zhou, NEC College faculty
voice and chorus
John Oliver '67 M.M., founder and conductor, Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Past BSO members with NEC affiliation
This is a partial list that will grow based on additional research.
Kelly Barr, violin, NEC Preparatory faculty
Marylou Speaker Churchill '67, violin, former NEC College and Preparatory faculty
Harry Ellis Dickson '29 DP, '30 DP, '87 hon. D.M., violin
Max Hobart, violin, NEC Preparatory faculty
Louis Krasner, violin, former NEC faculty
George Norwood Humphrey '29, viola
Eugene Lehner, viola, former NEC faculty
Jules Eskin, principal cello, former NEC faculty
Ronald Feldman, cello, NEC College faculty
Carol Procter '63, '65 M.M., cello
Fenwick Smith, flute, former NEC College faculty
Scott Andrews '94, clarinet
Matthew Ruggiero, assistant principal bassoon, former NEC faculty
Peter Chapman, trumpet, NEC College faculty
Steve Emery, trumpet, NEC College faculty
Gerard Goguen '51 DP, trumpet, former NEC faculty
Charles Schlueter, trumpet, NEC College faculty
Roger Voisin '30, '91 hon. D.M., principal trumpet, former NEC faculty
Ronald Barron, principal trombone, former NEC College faculty
Norman Bolter '77, trombone, NEC College faculty
William Gibson, principal trombone, former NEC faculty
Douglas Yeo, bass trombone, former NEC College faculty