John Heiss, NEC Faculty | Marvin Gilmore, Jr. '51 DP | Ernest Triplett, Jr. '61
James Maddalena '76
| Bill Cantos '86 M.M. | Amanda Forsythe '01 M.M.

2011 Lifetime Achievement Award

John Heiss, NEC faculty, Director of Contemporary Ensemble, composer, flutist, and conductor

John Heiss, NEC faculty, Director of Contemporary Ensemble, composer, flutist, and conductorJohn Heiss is an active composer, conductor, flutist, and teacher, whose works have been performed worldwide. Heiss studied mathematics at Lehigh University and earned his M.F.A from Princeton University where he studied Composition with Milton Babbitt, Edward T. Cone, Earl Kim, Otto Luening, and Darius Milhaud; and flute with Arthur Lora, James Hosmer, and Albert Tipton. He later taught on the faculty of Columbia University, Barnard College, MIT and NEC Institute at Tanglewood. Heiss came to NEC in 1967, where he wears many hats (though he’s distinctively known for one in particular) and currently teaches Flute, Chamber Music, Composition, Music History & Musicology, and Music Theory as well as masterclasses on extended flute technique. Heiss is the Director of NEC’s Contemporary Ensemble and also teaches flute in the Preparatory and Continuing Education schools.

He has directed many NEC festivals dedicated to composers or themes, and has spearheaded visits to the Conservatory by many composers, including Ligeti, Lutoslawski, Berio, Carter, Messiaen, Schuller, and Tippett. In 1998, Heiss was honored at commencement with NEC's Louis and Adrienne Krasner Teaching Excellence Award. He has also received awards and commissions from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, Fromm Foundation, NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, ASCAP, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Boosey & Hawkes, E.C. Schirmer, and Elkus & Son are the principal publishers of his works. His articles on contemporary music have appeared in Winds Quarterly, Perspectives of New Music, and The Instrumentalist. Along with Juilliard faculty Joel Sachs, Heiss has designed and written a classical music primer for Blue Marble Music entitled Classical Explorer. Heiss has also been principal flute of Boston Musica Viva and has performed with many local ensembles, including the BSO. His recordings can be heard on TelArc, Nonesuch, CRI, Golden Crest, Arista, Turnabout, Video Artists International, Boston Records, and AFKA.

2011 Florence A. Dunn Distinguised Service Award

Marvin Gilmore, Jr. '51 DP, Percussion Performance

Marvin Gilmore, Jr. '51 DP, Percussion Performance, NEC OverseerMarvin Gilmore is a humanitarian, entrepreneur, political advisor, honored World War II veteran, musician, and family man. Mr. Gilmore co-founded the Unity Bank and Trust Company in Roxbury, the first Black-owned and operated commercial bank in Boston.  Later, he served on the Low Income Housing Commission whose proposed legislation created the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency. Since 1973, Mr. Gilmore has served as the President and CEO of Community Development Corporation of Boston, a community-based, private, non-profit economic development organization, whose primary focus has been encouraging businesses to develop sites in inner-city neighborhoods.

After attending the Royal Scottish Academy School of Music, in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of World War II, Gilmore returned to Boston and earned his undergraduate diploma in Percussion Performance from New England Conservatory.

For more than 35 years, he has owned and managed the Western Front in Cambridge, which features Reggae, Latin, Jazz, and Salsa music, and has played host to such greats as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. In 2004, the City of Cambridge honored Mr. Gilmore by naming the area in front of the Western Front, “Marvin E. Gilmore Square”.

In 2000, Mr. Gilmore was interviewed by Tom Brokaw in an NBC Nightly News special for his military service during World War II and was later joined at the White House by former President Bill Clinton, General Colin Powell, and the late Senator Edward Kennedy to celebrate the Day of Honor.

On January 15, 2010 Mr. Gilmore was named a “Chevalier” of The Legion of Honor by a decree signed by the President of the French Republic. The Legion of Honor was created by Napoleon in 1802 to acknowledge services rendered to France by “persons of great merit”.

Similarly, Mr. Gilmore was also recognized for his service in World War II in Boston where Governor Deval Patrick presented him the Governor’s Citation in recognition of his dedicated service, as well as being the first African American from New England to receive the Legion of Honor medal. Mr. Gilmore served in the 458th, Battery ‘A’ Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion and served on D-Day’s Normandy, Utah and Omaha Beaches.

Mr. Gilmore’s forward thinking business savvy and philanthropy have helped numerous non-profit organizations, including Youville Hospital and New England Conservatory of Music, where he has served on its Board of Overseers since 1995.

2011 Outstanding Alumni Awards

Ernest Triplett, Jr. '61, Vocal Performance

Ernest Triplett, Jr. '61, Vocal PerformanceErnest Triplett, baritone has been praised throughout his career for the richness of his voice and the extensive range of his repertoire, being equally proficient in Lieder, opera, music for the theater and music for the church. Mr. Triplett has performed in an outstanding number of venues and has consistently been heralded for the conviction, expressiveness and power he brings to his dramatic portrayals, starring in works such as Don Giovanni, La Traviata, Nabucco, Die Fledermaus, Barbiere di Siviglia and the stunning Crucible. Mr. Triplett sang the title role in the premiere of Graun’s Montezuma and in the first American performance of Salieri’s Falstaff. Noteworthy appearances include performances with the Opera Company of Boston, Lake George Opera, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Temple University Music Festival, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops.

Mr. Triplett was founder and mainstay of Associate Artist Opera Company, the progenitor of today's Boston Lyric Opera, becoming the first black director of a union affiliated professional opera company. He is a graduate of New England Conservatory, and was a winner in the National Finals of the National Federation of Music Clubs, The Young Artists auditions and a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.

In 1989, the New England Opera Club honored Mr. Triplett with the Jacopo Peri Award, given each year to an honoree who has made a significant contribution to local opera. In 2008 he was honored by the Friends of St. Bernard’s for inspiring the parishioners of St. Bernard’s Church with his music for more than 25 years.

For the past 39 years Mr. Triplett has performed a special arrangement of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and other patriotic selections, for the July 4th festivities at the Old State House and Faneuil Hall in Boston to standing ovations. In addition Mr. Triplett was a cantor at Saint Bernard’s church in Newton, a soloist at the Christian Science Church in Weston and has sung in over 200 churches throughout the U.S. Mr. Triplett, is a longtime resident of Newton, Mass. and a native of Newport, R.I.


James Maddalena '76, Vocal Performance

James Maddalena '76, Vocal Performance. (Photo by: Katrin Talbot)Baritone James Maddalena commands a large and varied repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to contemporary opera. He first gained international recognition for his notable portrayal of the title role in the world premier of John Adams’ Nixon in China, directed by Peter Sellars at Houston Grand Opera followed by performances at Netherland Opera, the Edinburgh Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Washington Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Australia’s Adelaide Festival, the Chatelet in Paris, English National Opera the Greek National Opera and most recently for his debut with the Metropolitan Opera.

His association with John Adams continued in two more recent roles: as the Captain in The Death of Klinghoffer, which premiered at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, and as Jack Hubbard in Doctor Atomic for San Francisco Opera.

Mr. Maddalena has also appeared with: New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Atlanta Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Boston, Frankfurt Opera, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, as well as with the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Royal Scottish Orchestra, Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome and the London Symphony Orchestra. He is a frequent collaborator with director Peter Sellars and sang major roles in Sellars’ stagings of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas (the Count in Le nozze di Figaro and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte), as well as his productions of operas by Haydn, Handel and John Adams.

Mr. Maddalena sang the world premiere of Stewart Wallace’s Harvey Milk with Houston Grand Opera, and later at San Francisco Opera. Other engagements include: the premiere of Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter at San Francisco Opera, Hobson in the premiere of David Carlson’s The Midnight Angel, Gideon March in Mark Adamo’s Little Women at the Houston Grand Opera, and in the premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Vietnam Oratorio Fire Water Paper with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, which was later performed with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He also gave the world premiere of Harbison’s Four Psalms with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, sang the title role in the premiere of Kirke Mechem’s John Brown at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and made his Santa Fe Opera debut in the premiere of Paul Moravec’s The Letter. He later returned to New York City Opera as Mordecai in Weisgall’s Esther, premiered Lewis Spratlan’s "Life is a Dream" in Santa Fe, and debuted with the Opera de Monte-Carlo singing the title role in the premiere of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, which had US performances this season in Boston and Chicago following his Metropolitan Opera debut in Nixon In China.

An active concert artist, James Maddalena can be heard in repertoire ranging from Bach to Hindemith. He has recorded for Decca/London, BMG, Classical Catalyst, Nonesuch, Teldec, Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi, and EMI. He can be heard on the Grammy Award-winning recording of Nixon In China (Nonesuch) as well as the Emmy Award-winning PBS telecast.


Bill Cantos '86 M.M., Jazz Performance

Bill Cantos '86 M.m., Jazz PerformanceBill Cantos is known as a keyboardist, vocalist, writer, arranger and producer specializing in a variety of genres. Covering pop, jazz, R & B, and gospel, Bill’s talents have been heard in the works of Sergio Mendes, Phil Collins, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Elton John/Leon Russell, Patti Austin, Diane Schuur, Ramsey Lewis, Brenda Russell, and Kirk Whalum to name a few. His musical influences are equally diverse and range from Sergio Mendes to Bill Evans, and James Taylor to Stevie Wonder.

As a songwriter, Bill has written music for Alan & Marilyn Bergman, and lyrics for Johnny Mandel. He has recorded and produced six solo albums of his own original material on his label GIC Productions.

Born and raised in Southern California, Bill received his Masters of Music in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with Fred Hersch and Williams Thomas McKinley. Bill currently lives in the Los Angeles area.

Amanda Forsythe '01 M.M., Vocal Performance

Amanda Forsythe '01 M.M., Vocal Performance (Photo by: Claire Folger)Praised by Opera News for her “wonderful agility and silvery top notes,” award winning American light lyric soprano Amanda Forsythe is known for her interpretations of baroque music and the works of Rossini.

Ms. Forsythe earned her Bachelor’s degree in music from Vassar College, where she studied with Mary Ann Hart and later enrolled as a graduate student at New England Conservatory, where she studied vocal performance with Susan Fisher Clickner.

Ms. Forsythe made her professional debut in 2001 as Proserpina/Ninfa in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo with Boston Baroque, and in 2003 won the George London Foundation Awards. Ms. Forsythe later apprenticed at Chicago's Ravinia Festival as well as the Caramoor Festival and spent two summers as a vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center where she originated the role of young Margarita in the world premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar.

In 2007 Ms. Forsythe made her European début singing Corinna in Il Viaggio a Reims at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. In a review of her performance, The Stage (UK) wrote, “It was perfection.” Following her success in Pesaro, she was immediately engaged at the Grand Théâtre de Genève as Dalinda in Handel’s Ariodante, where she was proclaimed “the discovery of the evening.” She reprised this role in 2008 at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

Recent performances include: Handel’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed il Moderato with The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Le Nozze di Figaro (Barbarina) at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Xerxes (Atlanta) with Boston Baroque, and Blow’s Venus and Adonis (Venus) as well as Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Drusilla) with The Boston Early Music Festival. She also co-starred with Ewa Podles in Opera Boston’s production of Rossini’s Tancredi, débuted with the Ulster Orchestra in Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, and after a short maternity leave, made her Covent Garden début as Barbarina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro where she also sang the role of Manto in a new production of Steffani’s Niobe.

Ms. Forsythe will begin the 2011/2012 season singing Guilia in Rossini's La Scala di Seta at the Rossini Opera Festival and will return to Covent Garden in the spring for Nannetta in Verdi’s Falstaff.

Ms. Forsythe lives with her husband, conductor and organist Edward E. Jones, in Cambridge, Mass.