Artist Diploma

The Artist Diploma (AD) is the highest-level performance designation offered by NEC. It is currently awarded in three categories: Instrumental Performance, Opera, and Orchestral Conducting. The program is extremely selective, with one candidate typically admitted to each of the programs per year. AD students are given a full tuition scholarship and a $10,000 annual stipend.

The AD program at NEC offers the opportunity to deepen artistry and broaden musical perspective, all with the support of NEC faculty and resources. The two-year program distinguishes itself through a combination of mentorship, study, and performance opportunities. AD candidates must possess an individual musical voice and be emerging into a professional career that will make a significant contribution to the musical landscape.

Artist Diploma in Opera

Offering a small number of especially gifted performers a remarkable combination of mentorship, study, and performance opportunity, the NEC AD in Opera takes full advantage of NEC's incredible resources. As part of NEC's joint apprentice program with Odyssey Opera, AD students have the opportunity to be cast in a secondary role in an Odyssey Opera production each season. AD candidates are also guaranteed at least one principal role with orchestra in a mainstage NEC production per year, a showcase performance in historic Jordan Hall, and are frequently asked to represent NEC in outreach programs and at special events.

The program typically admits one singer each year following a rigorous selection process. The small size of the program allows the Opera Department to invest significant time and personal attention into the training and development of each AD singer.

Current and former students

Mezzo-Soprano Whitney Robinson, '20 AD, studies at NEC with Bradley Williams. Recent performances at NEC include Thelma in Later the Same Evening, Witch/Mother in Hänsel und Gretel, and Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte. Other opera credits include Madame de la Haltière in Cendrillon and China Cup/Dragonfly in L’enfant et les sortileges, Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri, Dame Carruthers in Yeoman of the Guard, Lady Sangazure in The Sorcerer, Praskowia in The Merry Widow, Clarina in La Cambiale di Matrimonio, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Mother in Tales of Hoffmann, Zaida in Il Turco in Italia, and Giovanna in Rigoletto

Soprano Erica Petrocelli '18 AD, is a young artist with LA Opera and recent apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera. She has appeared with Odyssey Opera under the baton of Gil Rose as the Holy Virgin in Honegger's Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher and as Agnes Sorel in Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orleans. She was also a national semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. During her studies at NEC, she performed Lia in Debussy's L'enfant prodigue, the title roles in Cendrillon and The Cunning Little Vixen. She was a student of Bradley Williams.

Baritone Josh Quinn '17 AD, studied at NEC with MaryAnn McCormick. At NEC, Quinn appeared as Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Publio in La Clemenza di Tito, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Seneca in L’incoronazione di Poppea. Quinn was a 2016 Merola Opera Artist with San Francisco Opera and was a 2014 Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Quinn received third place in the Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition, the Orpheus Vocal Competition, and the Mildred Miller International Singing Competition. He was a finalist in the Gerda Lissner Lieder Competition, the Francisco Viñas Competition, and the Mid-South Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. 

Soprano Nataly Wickham '16 A.D., recently made her debut with Chicago Summer Opera singing Lady Billows in Britten's Albert Herring. She was a young artist with both the Des Moines Metro Opera and Opera NEO. At NEC, Wickham studied with Jane Eaglen and performed the role of Lisak (The Fox) in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Other performances during her residency at NEC include Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Helwige in Die Walküre, Magda Sorel in The Consul, Fortuna in L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito. Wickham also performed Britten's Les illuminations de Rimbaud with the NEC Chamber Orchestra and was a featured artist in NEC's Liederabend series.

Soprano Soyoung Park '12 M.M., '14 A.D., studied at NEC with Lorraine Nubar. Immediately after graduation from NEC, she became a Young Artist with LA Opera. She made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut as soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. Park recently made her mainstage debut with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and will appear in upcoming productions with San Francisco Opera, LA Opera, and Opera Naples.

Mezzo-soprano Jaime Korkos '11 G.D., '13 A.D., was a two-time Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She premiered the role of Miss Carlisle in the comic opera The Cellist is Dead with the Juventas New Music Ensemble. Equally at home on the recital stage, Korkos completed a five-city tour with Phillip Gossett and the Italian chamber group Ensemble Nuovo Musiche performing art songs of Verdi and his contemporaries and recently presented the song cycle "November Leaves" by Charles Fussell for the Monadnock Music Festival with Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Soprano Hae Ji Chang '12 A.D. studied with Lorraine Nubar at NEC. As a Young Artist with LA Opera, Chang appeared as Frasquita in Carmen, the First Lady in The Magic Flute, and as Crobyle in Thaïs. She also performed the leading role of Sarah in Jonah and the Whale. Chang has covered lead roles with New York City Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She won the Pepita Embil Domingo Zarzuela Prize at the 2013 Operalia competition in Verona. Chang made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher.


Artist Diploma in Orchestral Conducting

Under the direction of NEC's Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, Hugh Wolff, the highly-selective AD in Orchestral Conducting program is designed to develop the artistic and leadership skills needed for a professional orchestra career.

The two-year, graduate-level curriculum features course work in score reading, instrumentation, orchestration, and performance practice, along with private studio, to reinforce a student's understanding of the conductor's art and craft. The AD conductor will lead approximately ten sectionals during the school year with NEC symphonies and serve as cover conductor for a number of concerts.

She/he will conduct one full NEC Symphony Orchestra concert (or two half concerts) during each spring semester and may conduct NEC Opera productions. The conductor will also learn fundraising and marketing skills from NEC's Institutional Advancement Office and collaborate with NEC's Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Community Programs and Partnerships departments on education and outreach.

The conductor will travel to Brussels occasionally to observe Hugh Wolff's rehearsals and concerts with the National Orchestra of Belgium. Through mini-apprenticeships with partner organizations like the Boston Pops, Boston Ballet, and the Handel + Haydn Society, the conductor will become well versed in all the styles and genres they may encounter in the professional world. There will also be some flexibility for the Artist Diploma conductor to continue to engage in professional activities outside of NEC.

Current and former students

Recent NEC alumni are emerging as the next generation of orchestra leaders. Joshua Weilerstein is the Artistic Director of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, after having served as Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 2011-2014. Aram Demirjian is Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, following an Associate Conductor position with the Kansas City Symphony. Lio Kuokman is currently the Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Earl Lee is the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s RBC Resident Conductor. Nathan Aspinall is the Assistant Conductor of the Jacksonville Symphony. Andres Lopera is Assistant Conductor with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Matthew Szymanski is the founder and Music Director of the Boston-based orchestra Phoenix.


Artist Diploma in Instrumental Performance

The AD in Instrumental Performance is offered for those instruments with substantial and significant solo repertoire in the Western classical canon.

AD students are individually supported by NEC's College Artistic Manager in securing performance opportunities throughout the east coast. In addition to the annual opportunity to perform a solo recital in world-renowned Jordan Hall, recent NEC AD students have performed at the Kennedy Center, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and various concert series throughout the region.

AD students perform a concerto with one of NEC's orchestras in Jordan Hall or Symphony Hall, and recording sessions in Jordan Hall are also available. AD students are expected to play an active role in the musical life of NEC during their two-year residency, including participation in institutional outreach concert.

AD violinists will have the opportunity to use NEC's Joachim-Ma Stradivarius violin during their residency.

The program typically admits one student each year, following final live auditions before the Artist Diploma Committee.

Current and former students

In Mo Yang, violin, AD '19: In Mo has performed at renowned recital venues worldwide, including his recent Carnegie Hall recital debut at Weill Recital Hall and a concerto engagement with the Danish National Symphony. In March 2015, he won the 54th International Violin Competition “Premio Paganini” in Genoa, Italy, marking the first time since 2006 that the Paganini Competition jury has awarded the First Prize. He also was First Prize Winner of the 2014 Concert Artists Guild Competition. In Mo has performed as concerto soloist with the NDR Radiophilharmonie, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Boston Classical Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic, Baden-Baden Philharmonic, KBS Symphony Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra, and many others. In Mo studies with Miriam Fried and has performed on the Joachim-Ma Stradivarius violin on loan from NEC.  

Alexi Kenney, violin, AD '17: Recipient of a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant during his first year as an Artist Diploma student at NEC, Alexi has recently given recitals at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, Festival Napa Valley, Kennedy Center, Jordan Hall and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Having also won the 2013 Concert Artist Guild Competition, Alexi has soloed with various orchestras in the U.S. and Europe, including a performance of John Adams' Violin Concerto in Symphony Hall with the NEC Philharmonia. Alexi studied with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried and performed on NEC's Joachim-Ma Stradivarius violin.

Cristian Budu, piano, AD '17: Winner of the 2013 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition, Cristian has soloed with orchestras in South America and Europe, including Stuttgart Radio, Brazilian, Petrobas and Parana Symphony orchestras, and Orquestre de la Suisse Romande, Minas Gerais Philharmonic and Sao Caetano do Sul Philharmonic. In the U.S. Cristian has given recitals in Jordan Hall, Rockport Music Festival, the Harvard Musical Association, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Bay Chamber Concert Series. Cristian studied with Wha-Kyung Byun.

Yoojin Jang, violin, AD '15: Winner of the 2016 Sendai International Violin Competition, Yoojin has appeared as soloist with Ivan Fischer's Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Bulgaria National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, the Erato Ensemble, the Extremadura Orchestra, and the Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo. Yoojin has also won all of the top youth competitions in Korea, and was prize winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Tchaikovsky Homeland International Competition for Young Musicians, the Yehudi Menuhin Competition and the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. Yoojin is currently pursing a Doctoral of Musical Arts at NEC, studying with Miriam Fried.

Angelo Xiang Yu, violin, AD '14: Winner of the 2010 Menuhin Competition while a sophomore at NEC and a 2011 Tchaikovsky Competition finalist, Angelo has soloed in North America with the Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver and Houston symphonies, and internationally with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Munich Chamber Orchestra, and Oslo Philharmonic. During his Artist Diploma studies at NEC, Angelo was also featured as an Artist-in-Residence on America Public Media's Performance Today and performed the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 with the NEC Philharmonia in Symphony Hall. Angelo studied at NEC with Donald Weilerstein and Miriam Fried.

Lukáš Vondrácek, piano, AD '12: Winner of the 2016 Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition, Lukas gave his first international concert tour in 1997 at age t10. In the second year of his studies in the Artist Diploma program, Lukas won first prize, the Grand Jury Prize, and four other prizes at the 12th Unisa Vodacom International Piano Competition in Pretorio, South Africa. Highlights included appearances with the London Philharmonic, Prague Philharmonia, Stuttgart Philharmonic, and National Symphony (Washington, DC). Lukas studied with Hung-Kuan Chen during his time at NEC.

Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello, AD '11: Hakhnazarayan was the first instrumentalist to enroll in NEC's revamped Artist Diploma program, studying with Laurence Lesser. In addition to a Jordan Hall recital, he performed as soloist in Boston's Symphony Hall with the NEC Philharmonia. The summer after graduating from the program, he won the Gold Medal, the audience prize, and the Prize for Best Performance of the Chamber Concerto at the 2011 XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition. His 2011-12 season included his debut with the Chicago Symphony and concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra and Mariinsky Orchestra.