The Artist Diploma (AD) is the highest-level performance designation offered at NEC. It is currently available in three categories: Instrumental Performance, Opera, and Orchestral Conducting. The program is extremely selective with only one to two candidates admitted to each of the programs per year. AD students are awarded a full tuition scholarship and a $10,000 stipend for both years of the program, and they are often featured in special performances and events.
NEC's AD program at NEC offers talented musicians the opportunity to deepen their artistry and broaden their musical perspective, all under the guidance and support of numerous NEC faculty and staff. AD candidates should possess a distinctive, individual artistic voice and be poised to begin a professional career that will have significant impact on the field.
The two-year program distinguishes itself through a combination of studio lessons and coachings, mentorship, and performance opportunities. AD students can tailor their curriculum to meet their specific goals and needs with built-in flexibility to allow for external engagements. Recent alumni from the AD program are enjoying successful careers in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Artist Diploma in Opera
The Artist Diploma in Opera provides promising singers a unique opportunity for intensive and focused study in vocal technique, dramatic presence, and artistic personality. Performance is also a key component to the program - all AD in Opera students are guaranteed a major role in one of NEC's main stage productions each year, and they may elect to present a full recital in the renowned Jordan Hall. In addition, AD students have the may be cast in a secondary role with Odyssey Opera as part of NEC's joint apprentice program with Odyssey Opera. Singers frequently represent NEC at high-profile events, as well as community engagement presentations, and they have access to mentorship sessions with leaders in the field.
The program normally admits one-to-two singers each year following a rigorous audition process. The small size of the program allows faculty in the Opera and Voice Departments to invest significant time and personal attention into the education and development of each singer. Audition information can be found here.
Current and former students
Soprano Elaine Daiber, ‘21 AD, studied at NEC with Carole Haber. Recent engagements have seen the versatile soprano in a variety of performances, including Paquette in Bernstein's Candide with The Orchestra Now, conducted by James Bagwell, as well as her debut with the Albany Symphony excerpting the Countess in Mozart's Le Nozze Di Figaro. A vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2017, highlights included performing in a concert of Ella Fitzgerald songs alongside Mezzo-Soprano Stephanie Blythe and Soprano Dawn Upshaw and selections from Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. A fierce lover of new music, Daiber recently performed the US premiere of Helen’s Grime’s Bright Travellers in a Boston Symphony Orchestra Prelude Concert. Previous new music engagements include the role of Milica in the 2018 production of Ana Sokolović's Svadba at the Richard B. Fisher Center, Steve Reich’s Drumming with Sō Percussion, the Boston premiere of composer Sky Macklay’s Glossolalia, and the world premiere performance of Nathan Davis’s The Sand Reckoner at the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood.
Mezzo-Soprano Whitney Robinson, '20 AD, studied at NEC with Bradley Williams. Her most recent opera credits include Thelma in Later the Same Evening, Witch/Mother in Hänsel und Gretel, Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte 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 current member of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein young artist program at the Los Angeles Opera. In the 19/20 season, Ms. Petrocelli will continue at Los Angeles Opera, singing Musetta in La Bohème, and First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, both conducted by James Conlon. She will also make her principal debut at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, singing Micaëla in Carmen. In the 18/19 season, Ms. Petrocelli made her Los Angeles Opera debut singing the role of Mrs. Naidoo in Philip Glass’ Satyagraha, conducted by Grant Gershon and appeared at Annina in La Traviata, conducted by James Conlon. Other season highlights included Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, a role debut.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., 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. Recently she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute and New York Philharmonic with performing the Queen’s iconic aria. For the upcoming engagements, Ms. Park will make her company debut as Setsuko in An American Dream with Lyric Opera of Chicago, return to LA Opera to perform the Queen in Magic Flute, and Houston Grand Opera for the same role.
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 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 coursework options in score reading and performance practice, along with private studio lessons, to develop a student's understanding of the conductor's art and craft. In order to provide sufficient opportunity for students, the program has only one enrolled student with a two-year commitment, so there are normally openings bi-annually.
The program includes a substantial amount of podium time for the AD conductor, who will conduct one full NEC Symphony Orchestra concert (or two half concerts) in the spring semester and may have the opportunity to assist and conduct one of the main stage opera productions. In addition, s/he will lead approximately ten sectionals during the school year with NEC orchestras and serve as cover conductor for a number of programs. The conductor will also learn fundraising and marketing skills from NEC's Advancement and Marketing Offices and collaborate with NEC's Community Engagement and Professional Studies (CEPS) department on educational programs, community engagement and career development.
There is also the opportunity for the conductor to occasionally travel to Brussels 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
Tristan Rais-Sherman, ‘21 AD, is a multi-dimensional artist exploring the intersection of technology and music. Driven by the mission to create the future of classical music through unconventional and innovative means, he has been building audiences on digital platforms such as Twitch, and exploring the possibilities of combining classical music with interactive mediums. His aim is nothing less than to blaze a new path for the future of classical music--one that is exciting, inclusive, and engaging.
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 Artist Diploma in Instrumental Performance provides a unique opportunity to promising artists for intensive and focused study in performance and musical personality. The program is available to students who play instruments with substantial solo repertoire and features a flexible curriculum of studio lessons, chamber music, and multiple concert opportunities. AD students present solo recitals in the world-renowned Jordan Hall, as well as perform as soloists with one of NEC's orchestras in either Jordan Hall or Symphony Hall. AD violinists have access to use NEC's Joachim-Ma Stradivarius violin during their studies.
The program normally admits one-to-two students each year following a rigorous audition process. The small size of the program allows faculty to invest significant time and personal attention to the education and development of each student. NEC actively seeks additional performance opportunities in venues throughout the east coast; recent concerts have taken place at the Kennedy Center, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, and various concert series throughout the region. Audition information can be found here.
Current and former students
In Mo Yang, violin, '17 AD '19: Inmo Yang has been hailed by the Boston Globe for his “seamless technique and a tender warmth of tone,” combined with “an ability to project an engaging sense of inner sincerity through his playing.” 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 First Prize. He also was First Prize Winner of the 2014 Concert Artists Guild Competition. 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. Inmo has performed as concerto soloist with the Danish National Symphony, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic, Baden-Baden Philharmonic, KBS Symphony Orchestra, and Korean Symphony Orchestra, among others. Inmo studied with Miriam Fried while at 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.