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Justin Defilippis

Trying to balance everything—classes, ensembles, gigs, and my theory project—doesn’t just take a mindset, it takes practice.
Justin Defilippis'17 BM Violin Performance, Music Theory Minor

What's the best thing about life as a violin major/music theory minor?

The faculty. That’s one of the things that really draws people here. Not just my major teacher, but the conductors are two of my biggest idols.

The performance level here is very high, but it is one of the best places to be motivated by the level of your colleagues.

Who has been your favorite teacher? Why?

Deborah Stein helped me on my Music Theory capstone project. She’s a complete expert on Romanticism in music. She’s incredibly supportive, has been there for me, and put so much time into a project she didn’t have to do.

She’s really been a mentor.

Also, a shout out to the conductors. The way they approach music, they are just incredible role models and share with us their love for music.

What is your relationship with studio teacher like?

Don Weilerstein is really one of a kind, in that I don’t know anyone else out there that can teach the way he does.

I don’t know anyone else out there that can teach the way he does.

Creativity is valued in a way that’s rare to see in the music world. He’s been like a musical grandparent to so many of us, and a role model in his ability to say it’s all right to be yourself.

What makes NEC unique? Why did you choose here over other schools?

Quite honestly, it was all about solo faculty for me.

I chose to go wherever my top choice teacher was, and they were at NEC.

But while the teacher is a very one-of-a-kind person and important, the combination of classes, ensembles, and location made a greater impact on me as a person.

Tell me about your musical backstory…what got you to where you are today?

I started playing when I was 4. My parents weren’t musicians, so they didn’t push me too hard. They wanted me to play for the love of it. When I was 11 or 12, I became more serious about my playing and that’s when I chose to dedicate my life to it. I was homeschooled in high school, so I could dedicate more time to my music and I did a high school program at Juilliard.

As a violinist, I take practice very seriously but, on the other hand, my interest in music as a passion is important and I didn’t want to let go of that either. Those well rounded qualities will help me in the long run.

What’s it like being in Boston? Favorite thing to do in Boston?

Boston is a really great city. It feels like one big college campus. NEC is small, but you’re close to the university environment.

There are tons of great restaurants, and I’ve developed an addiction for bubble tea.

Favorite place to hear a concert in Boston?

Well, Jordan Hall, but I guess we’re biased! It really cannot be surpassed as a venue, though, especially for chamber music.

An alum of NEC started an orchestra called Phoenix that plays in nightclubs.

They recently played at Armory in Somerville, which was a really interesting venue. Lots of unique, unconventional spaces to play in Boston.

What kind of performances have you been working on lately?

I’ve had lots of interesting experiences subbing for groups or putting on things myself. I’ve subbed for Phoenix, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Boston Microtonal Society through the Music Theory department.

I’ve done some volunteer concerts through CPP [NEC's Community Performances & Partnerships program], played in ensembles for other people’s recitals, and even done some work over at Berklee.

Most interesting gig you’ve done?

Definitely Phoenix. The atmosphere we had was trying to do something new for classical music to keep it alive and the music production was something we could all be proud of.

The atmosphere we had was trying to do something new for classical music.