August 21, 2009

NEC Announces 25th Anniversary Season of First Monday at Jordan Hall

Popular, Free Chamber Music Series Features Performances by Outstanding NEC Faculty, Alumni, Students, Friends

Founded and Curated by Cellist Laurence Lesser

Laurence LesserLaurence LesserNew England Conservatory will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of First Monday at Jordan Hall, the enormously popular free chamber music series created and curated by cellist and former president Laurence Lesser, the Walter W. Naumburg Chair in Music.  The anniversary season opens October 5 and will feature a characteristically wide range of repertory with an emphasis on composer anniversaries, including those of Franz Josef Haydn, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Hugo Wolf and Grazyna Bacewicz. 
Among performers scheduled to appear are violinists Miriam Fried, Lucy Chapman and Donald Weilerstein; violists Kim Kashkashian, Roger Tapping, Paul Biss, and Dimitri Murrath; cellists Natasha Brofsky, Paul Katz, and Lesser; pianists/keyboardists Gabriel Chodos, Stephen Drury, John Gibbons and Peter Sykes; flutists Renée Krimsier and Paula Robison; oboist John Ferrillo; soprano Lisa Saffer; and the Borromeo Quartet.

First Monday took shape when then-President Lesser decided to organize occasional faculty chamber music concerts into a regular series.  Taking the school calendar and faculty schedules into consideration, he determined that six concerts a year—in October, November, December, March, April and May—were the optimal number.  "Monday nights were off nights for the Boston Symphony and other concert presenters," Lesser explains. "And the theme of presenting the concerts on the first Mondays of the month was an easy mnemonic for audiences." 

Lesser himself chose the repertory and invited the players—a practice that continues. And he works diligently to find matches between compatible musicians and music that also add up to compelling programs. Over the years, he has come up with some memorable and combustible musical partnerships between faculty, alumni, students and friends.  Consider, for example, a performance in 1987 of the young Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, still a student, singing Shostakovich's Seven Songs on Poems by Alexander Blok with Patricia Zander, piano; James Buswell, violin; and Lesser on cello.  The latter three faculty musicians followed that up with a sublime performance of the Schubert B-flat Trio. Or a performance in 2001 with pianist Max Levinson joining the Borromeo Quartet for the Shostakovich Quintet.

All the performers play for the love of it.  "No one is paid," Lesser stressed. The appeal is the opportunity to play with friendly colleagues, in a world-renowned hall, and in repertory that is supremely rewarding in its musical and expressive qualities.  As violinist Lucy Chapman puts it, "Playing chamber music you confront all these great ideas, these monuments of abstract expression of the human existence. And you are sharing these profound thoughts with these other players.  When you play chamber music with someone, you have a different relationship with him. It also changes your relationship to your own life and your own self. It develops your sense of oneness with the world.”
Audiences share in the musical rewards and become regular fans of First Mondays.  Indeed, the series is the Conservatory's most popular musical offering with near-capacity crowds attending month after month.  Where else could they hear international soloists and chamber musicians, Boston Symphony players, and young stars-to-be for free?

The 2009-10 First Monday at Jordan Hall schedule follows:

October 5
Lisa SafferLisa SafferGiovanni Gabrieli: antiphonal brass (Charles Peltz conductor)
J.S. Bach: Wedding Cantata.  Lisa Saffer,  soprano; John Ferrillo, oboe; Miriam Fried,  Paul Biss, violins; Roger Tapping,  viola; Laurence Lesser,  cello; Benjamin Levy, double bass; and John Gibbons, harpsichord.
Mozart: Quintet in g minor, K. 516. Fried and David McCarroll, violins; Tapping, Biss, violas; Lesser, cello.

November 2
J. Haydn: Piano Trio in e minor, H. XV:12: Pei-Shan Lee, piano; Lucy Chapman, violin; Natasha Brofsky, cello (200th anniversary year of death)
Kati Agócs: Awakening Galatea. Kati Agócs, soprano; Renée Krimsier, flute; Franziska Huhn, harp – Boston Premiere
Grazyna Bacewicz: Suite. Joanna Kurkowicz, Masuko Ushioda, violins (100th birthday year)
A. Dvorak: Piano Quintet in A Major, Opus 81. Masuko Ushioda, Lucy Chapman, violins; Kim Kashkashian, viola; Paul Katz,  cello; Randall Hodgkinson, piano.

December 7  (“Keyboards”)
J.S. Bach: Prelude in C Major, BWV 846.  Peter Sykes, clavichord
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: Fantasia in a minor, Falck 23.  Peter Sykes, clavichord
F. Couperin: Neuvième Concert, intitulé “Ritratto dell’amore”. Fenwick Smith, flute; Carol Ou, cello; Peter Sykes, harpsichord
Brahms: Trio in C Major, Opus 87. Lucy Chapman, violin; Paul Katz, cello; Victor Rosenbaum, piano
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Kontakte. Steven Drury,  piano; Jeffrey Means, percussion; surround sound (electronic tracks)

March 1
Paula RobisonPaula RobisonGeorge Enescu: Cantabile e Presto. Paula Robison, flute; Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, piano
Beethoven: Serenade. Paula Robison, flute; Nicholas Kitchen, violin; Mai Motobuchi, viola
George Enescu: Piano Quintet. Donald Weilerstein, Kristopher Tong, violins; Dimitri Murrath, viola; Yeesun Kim, cello; Vivian HornikWeilerstein, piano

April 5
G.B. Pergolesi: Sinfonia (arr. L. Lesser) Laurence Lesser, Carol Ou, cellos (300th birthday year)
Gyorgy Kurtag: Signs, Games and Messages. James Buswell, violin; Kim Kashkashian, viola; Carol Ou, cello
Bela Bartók: Violin Duos (arranged for viola). Kim Kashkashian, Dimitri Murrath, Roger Tapping, Marcus Thompson, violas.
Schubert: Trout Quintet. James Buswell, violin; Marcus Thompson, viola; Natasha Brofsky, cello; Donald Palma, double bass; Gabriel Chodos, piano

May 3
Hugo Wolf: Italian Serenade. Borromeo String Quartet.  (150th birth year anniversary)
Beethoven: Octet, Opus 103. Thomas Martin, Michael Wayne, clarinets; John Ferrillo, Laura Ahlbeck, oboes; Eli Epstein, Jason Snider, French horns; Richard Ranti, Gregory Henegar, bassoons
Gunther Schuller: Octet. Borromeo String Quartet; Eli Epstein, French horn; Michael Wayne, clarinet; Richard Ranti, bassoon; James Orleans, double bass

For further information, check the NEC Website at:  or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.  NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. St. Botolph Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  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 and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

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
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory