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Feast of Music Raises $750,000+

Annual scholarship gala, this year with a Latin America theme, exceeded goal to fund 35 scholarships

NEC Raises $750,000+ at its 17th Annual Scholarship Gala, February 22, 2014

Taking a Latin American Theme, El Festín de la Música paired Banquet Courses with Musical Selections

Funds Raised Will Support  More than 36 Scholarships for Students

New England Conservatory exceeded its goal of raising $750,000 at its annual scholarship gala, El Festín de la Música (A Feast of Music), Saturday, February 22, 2014 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.  Called one of the best parties in Boston, Feast pairs courses of a gourmet banquet with musical performances by NEC students.  This year, after previous European and American themes, the gala “flew down” to Rio, Buenos Aires, Santiago and other points south of the equator—to conjure up some heat and passion in the midst of a brutal winter. More than 400 people accepted the invitation to support student scholarships.

Copley Executive Chef Laurent Poulain designed and executed a Latin American feast complemented by Argentinean wines donated by Luigi Bosca Winery, and Wines of Argentina. Music selections included works by Piazzolla, Villa-Lobos, Paquito D’Rivera, Osvaldo Golijov, Alberto Ginastera, Hermeto Pascoal, and Tito Puente.

Through ticket proceeds, a silent auction and personal and corporate sponsorships, the event brought in enough funds to yield scholarships for more than 36 of NEC’s gifted students.

Co-chairs for the evening were Trustee Suki de Bragança and Visitor Deborah R. Hanley, both of Beacon Hill (in photo above). Honorary chair was Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg of the Board of Overseers.

Overall sponsor for the event was Ann Beha Architects, the firm that is currently designing NEC's new Student Life and Performance Center, scheduled to begin construction in 2015 and to open in 2017 when the Conservatory celebrates its 150th anniversary.

Among the highlights of the evening were a silent auction in which gala patrons bid on such extraordinary items as private recitals by dramatic soprano Jane Eaglen, former NEC President and cellist Laurence Lesser, and the Weilerstein Duo composed of violinist Donald Weilersteinand pianist Vivian Hornik Weilerstein.  Other items up for bid included paintings by Ivonne Torres, Geoff Chalmer, Giuliana Moltin; photography by Nancy Berry; travel and luxurious vacation accommodations; a selection of fine tequilas; restaurant packages; and design and décor accessories.

The festivities continued late into the evening with the Fiesta after party in the Oval Room at the Copley Plaza. Guests enjoyed cocktails, Latin American rhythms from Salsa to Tango, dancing to music by Alex Brown, and posing for their picture at the PhotoBooth by Elevin Studios.

Calling on dinner patrons to contriubte to a special scholarship appeal, Hugh Wolff, the Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras made this eloquent case for support:

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to teach at NEC for the past six years. Before that, I spent almost thirty years conducting professional orchestras around the world and well over 2000 concerts. But I will tell you that the talent, commitment, and energy of the NEC students make conducting them as great a joy as conducting the world’s greatest orchestras. These young musicians will carry their passion for music out into the world. They will reinvent the concert for the 21st century. They are the next vital link in the chain of musicians that has kept this precious part of our culture alive for centuries. I can assure you it is safe in their hands. They are not in it for money or status. They study and create and play music because they’re so passionate about it, they can’t imagine doing anything else. They share all the challenges of young adulthood with peers everywhere, then put their most vulnerable selves out on stage for us. In a complex and deeply moving transformation, the private becomes public. Being part of this is one of the joys of working at NEC. When I looked around the stage last week at over 200 young people performing Beethoven’s Ninth, I saw musicians from all over the world, their faces alight with the desire to deliver a transcendent experience. We must not turn away a talented student we believe in, no matter how little he or she can afford to pay. They need to grow and achieve their potential. There should be no barriers to that...We must ensure that our students receive an education that is second to none and still affordable.

A cultural icon approaching its 150th anniversary in 2017, New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized worldwide as a leader among music schools. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, on the Avenue of the Arts in the Fenway Cultural District, NEC offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC-trained musicians and faculty.

NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the United States. Founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee, an American music educator, choral conductor and organist, its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. On the college level, NEC features training in classical, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Graduate and post-graduate programs supplement these core disciplines with orchestral conducting and professional chamber music training. Additional programs, such as the Sistema Fellows, a professional training program for top postgraduate musicians and music educators that creates careers connected to music, youth, and social change, and Entrepreneurial Musicianship, a cutting-edge program integrating professional and personal skills development into the musical training of students to better develop the skills and knowledge needed to create one’s own musical opportunities, also enhance the NEC experience.

Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, the Conservatory provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, and adults. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Currently more than 750 young artists from 46 states and 39 foreign countries attend NEC on the college level; 1,400 young students attend on the Preparatory level; and 325 adults participate in the Continuing Education program.

The only conservatory in the United States designated a National Historic Landmark, NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year. Many of these take place in Jordan Hall (which shares National Historic Landmark status with the school), world-renowned for its superb acoustics and beautifully restored interior. In addition to Jordan Hall, more than a dozen performance spaces of various sizes and configurations are utilized to meet the requirements of the unique range of music performed at NEC, from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to big band jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Center in Boston, and a semi-staged performance in Jordan Hall. This past 2012-2013 season, the operas produced were Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and Rossini’s La Gazzetta.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Senior Communications Specialist
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115