February 26, 2010

New England Conservatory Philharmonia to Perform in Symphony Hall for First Time in 15 Years, April 7, 2010

Program Conducted by Hugh Wolff Features Music of Fresh Starts by Samuel Barber, Dmitri Shostakovich, Robert Schumann

Cello Soloist is Narek Hakhnazaryan, Artist Diploma Candidate and Winner 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions

New England Conservatory's Philharmonia orchestra will perform in Symphony Hall for the first time in 15 years, Wednesday, April 7 at 8 p.m. Hugh Wolff, Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, will conduct the brilliant young ensemble in music of Fresh Starts, including the Barber Adagio for Strings, Shostakovich Symphony No. 10, and Schumann Cello Concerto.

Soloist in the Schumann will be cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, an Artist Diploma student at the Conservatory and winner of the 2008 Young Concert Artists International Auditions.  The Armenian cellist was praised for his "unflagging expressive intensity," "daredevil verve," and "gorgeous" tone in the New York Times after his 2008 Zankel Hall debut. Critic Steve Smith particularly singled out his Schumann performance for the "warm and supple tone" that "animated the lyrical phrases with grace."

Conductor Hugh Wolff, who joined the NEC faculty in 2008, has brought the Conservatory's orchestral program to a new level of eminence. Formerly music director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Grant Park Music Festival, and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, he has conducted many of the major orchestras around the world, including frequent appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Three times nominated for a Grammy, Wolff has an extensive discography on the Teldec label with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and London's Philharmonia Orchestra.

Hakhnazaryan, 21, is one of only two students in NEC's prestigious Artist Diploma program this year. Born in Yerevan, he grew up in a family of musicians: his father is a violinist and his mother is a pianist.  After early studies in Yerevan, he began training at the age of 12 at the Moscow Conservatory. At NEC, he is working with Laurence Lesser, who occupies the Walter W. Naumburg Chair in Music. Hakhnazaryan plays a Jean Baptiste Vuillaume cello, circa 1860, on loan from the Ravinia Festival.

The concert's Fresh Starts theme proceeds from the notable occasion of the Philharmonia's return to Symphony Hall and serves as a through line for the musical selections, each of which signaled new beginnings in the lives of the composers. Barber, still a young and emerging composer, got a big career boost when Arturo Toscanini performed the now universally famous Adagio for Strings (along with the First Essay) on an NBC Symphony radio broadcast in 1938. Shostakovich wrote his Symphony No. 10 in 1953 in the immediate aftermath of the death of Josef Stalin, his longtime nemesis.  The Tenth was Shostakovich's first symphonic work since being denounced a second time by the Stalinist regime in 1948. According to Phillip Huscher, program annotator for the Chicago Symphony, "This is music of a new beginning, at once summing up all that Shostakovich had to say in the form of a symphony, releasing everything that the years of Stalin's oppression had buried, and anticipating a fresh and enlightened era ahead."  Finally, the Schumann Cello Concerto, composed in 1850, was one of several new works that flowed from Schumann's pen in the happy and energetic first days of his appointment as municipal music director of Dusseldorf. It shows the composer at the height of his powers and demonstrating fresh insight into the concerto form.

Tickets to the April 7 Symphony Hall concert are: $25 and $10. WGBH/WCRB subscribers, receive 2 for 1--to redeem, call Symphony Charge at 1-888-266-1200 or visit the BSO Box Office.

For further information, check the NEC Website 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