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NEC, HandH Conducting Apprenticeship

NEC and Handel and Haydn Society Join Forces in Apprentice Conducting Program.

NEC, Handel and Haydn Society Announce Conductor Apprentice Program

One-on-One Mentoring Will Concentrate on Historically Informed Performance

First NEC Conducting Student Joshua Weilerstein to Begin Program This Week, Working with Bernard Labadie

In what may be a first of its kind, the Handel and Haydn Society and New England Conservatory will this week inaugurate a conducting apprenticeship in Historically Informed Performance (HIP).  The project pairs students in NEC’s elite Orchestral Conducting program with Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) Artistic Director Harry Christophers and guest conductors. The one-on-one interaction will be focused on individual subscription programs.  French-Canadian conductor Bernard Labadie and NEC Master’s Degree candidate Joshua Weilerstein (in photo above) kick off the program as part of preparations for Handel and Haydn’s concerts of music by Haydn and Beethoven, Oct. 29 and 31 at Symphony Hall.

The purpose of the program is to offer student conductors practical experience working with a stellar period instrument orchestra and chorus on core Baroque and Classical repertoire under the tutelage of world-renowned specialists in the genre.  Each apprentice will study a program’s repertoire in advance, meet with Christophers or the guest conductor for at least one 30-minute session to review rehearsal plans and address artistic questions, and assist H&H’s conductor during rehearsals and performances. At the end of the concert schedule, the apprentice will write a short essay detailing the experience.

In the second year of the program, H&H hopes to offer one candidate the opportunity to conduct one piece on a Handel and Haydn Society subscription concert or in the Society’s education program.  The conductor must be a second-year Master’s candidate who has worked with the Society in the previous season.  Repertoire will be selected by mutual agreement between NEC and H&H.

Following Weilerstein’s apprenticeship this week, Aram Demirjian will work with Artistic Director Harry Christophers (in photo) for the concerts on February 18 & 20, 2011 of Handel’s Israel in Egypt; and Andres Lopera will work with Richard Egarr for the  Mozart and Beethoven concerts on March 18 & 20, 2011. 

Now in its second year, NEC’s Orchestral Conducting program is one facet of the school’s effort to take orchestral performance to the next level of eminence.  In 2009, internationally recognized conductor Hugh Wolff became the Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras and began putting his stamp on the program.  Last year, Wolff initiated the two-year Orchestral Conducting program, choosing two extraordinary young musicians—Weilerstein and Demirjian—for intensive, hands-on training. This year Lopera was invited to join the program.  Each young conductor works closely with Wolff and rehearses weekly with a specially created Lab Orchestra, honing his craft and gaining critical experience.  The H&H program in Historically Informed Performance will supplement this training by offering an opportunity to observe and study the conventions and styles of earlier musical eras.

For more information, go to the NEC website.
Or go to the H&H website.
Following are biographies of the three conducting students as well as full rehearsal schedules for the three relevant 2010-2011 Handel and Haydn Society subscription weeks.


Immediately after completing his Bachelor of Music in violin performance at NEC in May 2009, Joshua Weilerstein, 22, won the international 2009 Malko Competition for Young Conductors in Copenhagen. His first-prize honors include conducting engagements over three years with such major Scandinavian orchestras as the Oslo Philharmonic, the Finnish Radio Symphony, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and the Danish National Symphony.  In June 2009, in the first of this series of Malko engagements, Mr. Weilerstein made his professional conducting debut with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

In the 2010-11 season, Joshua will lead the South Jutland Symphony in a repeat engagement, and will make his debut with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Malmo Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, CityMusic Cleveland, and Norrkoping Symphony orchestras, among others. In February of 2011, Joshua will be serving as a Dudamel Fellow, where he will both perform and act as cover conductor for multiple concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Joshua will also be performing as soloist with the Boston New Music Initiative and as a guest member of A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra.

In 2007, Mr. Weilerstein was invited to appear as violin soloist with the Símon Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Continuing his association with that organization, in 2007 he was also invited to become its first non-Venezuelan guest member, joining the first violin section on the orchestra's acclaimed American tour with Music Director Gustavo Dudamel. In January 2010, Joshua was invited to conduct the SBYOV for his debut performance as a conductor with the ensemble.  Currently living in Boston, he serves as concertmaster of the Discovery Ensemble, a Boston-based chamber orchestra established by young musicians dedicated to bringing music to children through interactive workshops in schools and community concerts.

A native of Lexington, MA, Aram Demirjian received early training at NEC’s Preparatory School, where he studied cello with Laura Bluestein.  He was a member of the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and principal cellist of the Youth Symphony Orchestra.  In 2002, he attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra program. Prior to his graduate studies, Demirjian attended Harvard University where he served for two years as music director of the Harvard Bach Society Orchestra. He has also studied at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, and has attended the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, studying under David Zimman. Demirjian was selected last year to conduct internationally famed cellist YoYo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. In January, he led the New England Concert Opera Players in a concert version of Mozart’s masterpiece “The Marriage of Figaro.” Last summer, he assumed the role of musical director of the Long Island Youth Symphony Orchestra and toured with them on the eastern coast of the U.S. and Canada, in Eastern Europe and Iceland.

Born in Colombia. Andres Lopera began studying trombone at age 11. At the age of 14 he won the award for best soloist at the National Band competition in Samaniego Nariño. In 2001, he was awarded the “Hernán Gómez” scholarship and started his undergraduate studies in Orchestral Conducting with Cecilia Espinoza Arango and trombone performance with Luz Amparo Mosquera.

In addition to working as a professor and brass clinician for La Red de Escuelas de Música de Medellín from 2004 to 2008, Lopera also held the position of conductor of the Main Orchestra and Choir of this program in the years 2006 to 2008. Furthermore, he conducted the EAFIT University Professional and Students’ Symphony Orchestra, the Students’ Choir of Universidad Pontificia Javeriana, and his own choir, Follia Chorale (2006), a vocal ensemble he created to promote and cultivate the Latin American choral repertoires.   

In 2006 Andres double majored in orchestral conducting and trombone performance at EAFIT University where he was recognized for his academic record as the best student of his class in 2006. Lopera participated three consecutive times in the EAFIT University Young Talent’s Concert, one of the most important concerts of the EAFIT Symphony Orchestra to showcase outstanding students; first time, as a trombone soloist in 2004, and as an Orchestral Conductor in 2005 and 2006. This past May 2009 he played as a trombone soloist in Chicago for the Peace Music Festival held by the North Park University with musician from CSO and conduct young musicians from the YOURS project. In November 2008, he performed as a trombone player in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, as a member of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas (YOA) representing Colombia.  This past summer, he was the assistant conductor to Carlos Miguel Prieto in the YOA’s tour in South America.

The Handel and Haydn Society is a professional chorus and period instrument orchestra internationally recognized as a leader in the field of Historically Informed Performance, a revelatory style that uses the instruments and techniques of the time in which the music was composed. Founded in Boston in 1815, the Society is the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and has a longstanding commitment to excellence and innovation: it gave the American premieres of Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s The Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878) and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879).

Harry Christophers was appointed Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society in 2008 and began his tenure with the 2009–2010 Season. He has conducted Handel and Haydn each season since September 2006, when he led a sold-out performance in the Esterházy Palace at the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria. Christophers and the Society have since embarked on an ambitious artistic journey that begins with the 2010–2011 Season with a showcase of works premiered in the United States by the Society over the last 195 years, and the release of Mozart Mass in C Minor -- the first of a series of recordings on CORO leading to the Society’s Bicentennial. Christophers is known internationally as founder and conductor of the United Kingdom-based choir and period instrument ensemble The Sixteen, and as guest conductor for major symphony orchestras and opera companies. He has directed The Sixteen throughout Europe, America, and the Far East, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, Baroque, and 20th century music. He has recorded close to 100 titles for which he has won numerous awards, and in 2009 he received one of classical music’s highest accolades, the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year Award; The Sixteen also won the Baroque Vocal Award for Handel Coronation Anthems, a CD that also received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination.
H&H is widely known through its local subscription concerts, tours, concert broadcasts, and recordings. The Society’s Lamentations and Praises won a 2002 Grammy Award, and its two most recent CDs, All is Bright and Peace, appeared simultaneously in the top ten on Billboard Magazine’s classical music chart. The 2010-2011 Season marks the 25th Anniversary of Handel and Haydn’s award-winning Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program that fosters the knowledge and performance of classical music among young people including in underserved schools and communities. Annually, the program brings music education and vocal training to more than 10,000 students in the Greater Boston area.


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

Michèle Campbell, Senior Marketing Communications Manager
Handel and Haydn Society
617- 262-1815, ext. 119; Fax: 617-266 4217