July 23, 2009

NEC Raises $200,000 for Two New Concert Grand Pianos in Feast of Music Piano Challenge

Piano Faculty Members Travel to New York to Choose Steinway Instruments for Jordan and Williams Halls

Nancy Noble Holland, President Woodcock  (Miro Vintoniv)Nancy Noble Holland, President Woodcock (Miro Vintoniv photo)New England Conservatory has successfully completed a fundraising challenge to secure $200,000 for the purchase of two new concert grand pianos for Jordan and Williams Halls. In conjunction with the annual Feast of Music gala, the Piano Challenge was issued by Trustee and NEC alumna Nancy Noble Holland ’95 M.M and the Noble Foundation who offered to donate $100,000 if the Conservatory could match that amount with additional contributions. A committee of Board members comprised of Wendy Shattuck ‘75, Jane Manopoli Patterson and Katie Schuller-Bleakie set themselves the task of finding the matching money and declared victory in April.

Bruce Brubaker (Andrea Shea)Bruce Brubaker (Andrea Shea photo)The Conservatory purchased the first of the new instruments In May and it will have its debut at a recital by Russell Sherman, September 24. A delegation of piano faculty including Piano Chair Bruce Brubaker, Russell Sherman, Wha-Kyung Byun, and Alexander Korsantia traveled to New York in May to audition pianos at the Steinway factory. There are also tentative plans to go to Hamburg, Germany to choose a German Steinway.

Because they are used not just by students and NEC faculty but by the many artists who perform annually at NEC through the Celebrity Series of Boston, Boston Philharmonic, and BSO Chamber Players, the new instruments “become almost community pianos,” Brubaker acknowledged. “So it is vital that the very best instruments are selected.”

In announcing the success of the Challenge, NEC President Tony Woodcock paid tribute to Holland and the board committee for their generosity and enterprise in raising the money. “Coming in the middle of this economic downturn, their accomplishment is extraordinary. The numerous contributions that added up to a successful conclusion demonstrate how passionately our friends care about this institution. We are enormously grateful to everyone for their help.”


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 750 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, 100-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