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EM Alumni Award

The EM Alumni Award, sponsored by the Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Alumni offices, provides modest funding and significant support to help you with your aspiring projects. Granted annually to two NEC graduates who are within ten years of their graduation, the award includes a $500 stipend and up to 8 hours of advising with the EM team. Application instructions are emailed every January via the alumni mailing list.


Congratulations to the 2018 EM Alumni Award winners—Ashleigh Gordon (’08 MM) and Ariel Friedman (’11 MM)!

Ashleigh Gordon

Ashleigh Gordon ('08 MM) is the violist, co-founder and artistic director of Castle of our Skins (, a Boston-based concert and education series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. With the help of the EM office and EM Alumni Award, she will transition her series into a 501(c)3 non-profit and create a long-term, sustainable business plan.

Ariel Friedman

Ariel Friedman (’11 MM) is the cellist in Cardamom Quartet, a Boston-based ensemble dedicated to raising the profile of women composers through performance and education. The EM Alumni Award will fund a community concert on the morning of June 16, 2018 at the Jamaica Plain branch library with a program of music written entirely by women, including the premiere of a piece by Ariel.

The following individuals have been recognized as Honorable Mentions for their exceptional proposals:

Honorable Mentions

  • Katharine Martucci
  • Tong Wang
  • Kayleigh Miller

Stay tuned, the 2019 EM Alumni Award Applications will go live in December 2018.


Congratulations to the 2017 EM Alumni Award winners—Hannah Nicholas (’14 MM, Viola) and Kiyoshi Hayashi (’16 BM, Violin Performance)!

Hannah Nicholas

Violist Hannah Rose Nicholas is dedicated to music as a means for building relationships with other cultures. She currently plays in the New World Symphony in Miami under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas, where she has performed as principal viola on highlighted concerts including Strauss' Don Quixote with cellist John Sharp, and on tour to the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall with soloist Anne Sophie Mutter. The New York Classical Review wrote of the Carnegie performance:  “Violist Hannah Nicholas’s solo line that elided off the end of one of Mutter’s phrases was exceptional.” Most recently, Hannah was appointed Principal Viola of the Central City Opera Orchestra in Colorado. 

Hannah is producing a multi-disciplinary concert this April for the O, Miami Poetry Festival in Miami, Florida. Combining live readings of poetry with live music performance, the concert culminates in the premiere of a work combining newly commissioned poetry and music. Previous interdisciplinary collaborations include commissioning Silk Road Ensemble’s visual artist Kevork Mourad and composer Sahba Aminikia.

Kiyoshi Hayashi

Kiyoshi Hayashi is currently a violinist in Boston’s Palaver Strings Chamber Orchestra and in 2016 performed as a guest artist with A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra. In 2012, his quartet was selected as semifinalist at the prestigious Fischoff National Chamber Competition. Kiyoshi is very interested in the capacity for music to heal and teach, and he regularly volunteers to perform at local health-care settings, nursing homes, and schools. He is on the community engagement and music education committees for Palaver Strings Chamber Orchestra and is a violin teacher for The Roxbury Youth Orchestra, a nonprofit organization inspired by El Sistema.

In February 2017, Palaver Strings will be focusing its efforts in Jamaica Plain through a partnership with Fenway Health and the LGBT Aging Project to develop Life Songs, a songwriting workshop for older adults in the LGBT community. Based on their work with the Lullaby Project - a program that helps young disadvantaged mothers write lullabies for their children - Palver will create a similar workshop for a community that is close to the heart of Jamaica Plain. These songs will be professionally recorded in Emmanuel Church in Boston and performed on February 25, 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain.