Celebrating the Class of 2020 Through Togetherness Online

NEC alumni, faculty, staff, and loved ones gathered online to celebrate the graduating class through concerts and a digital celebration.

We could not celebrate our extraordinary Class of 2020 in person this year. But over the weekend of May 15–17, the NEC community came together to celebrate in all the creative and heartfelt ways that are possible in these socially distanced times. 

“It is truly heartbreaking not to be able to honor you in person this spring, but please know how very proud we are of all of you,” said President Andrea Kalyn as part of the Sunday morning celebration.

“It’s understandable if the disappointment over the last few weeks of the semester, and the anxiety of this moment, might be fighting to overshadow your sense of accomplishment. Please don’t let it. Rather, I hope you will find in this moment great confidence. You are actually beautifully prepared to navigate a rapidly changing world. Every skill that you’ve developed in your time at NEC, every creative thought that you’ve ever made real...will also see you through.”

Celebratory Performances from Alumni and Students

The virtual celebration opened with a special tribute from NEC alumni to the graduating class—a multi-track recording of 84 alumni performing Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March, op. 39 no. 1. “We hope that the graduates feel celebrated by their wider community,” said Debbie Grohman ’87 MM, one of the participating musicians. Read more messages of encouragement from alumni

The celebration also included a performance by the Jewish Music Ensemble, led by Hankus Netsky, recorded after ensemble work moved into students' homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Faculty also offered their congratulations and care. “We love you, and we’re so proud of you,” said Paula Robison, blowing kisses to this year’s graduates. “This is a memorable year, but mostly because of your great accomplishments,” said Laurence Lesser.

Commencement Concerts

In lieu of the traditional Jordan Hall Commencement Concert, which features performances by members of our graduating class, the weekend kicked off with not one, but two full-length digital concerts.

The concerts proudly showcase nearly 40 works, including chamber music, solo performances, jazz, gospel, R&B, and original compositions by NEC students. 

Gathering across Distance

Because the celebration and concerts were held online, friends and family members from all over the globe were able to take part. “Watching from Wyoming with my NEC Class of '24 oboist,” wrote one viewer; “Bravo from TEXAS!” shared another.

"Thanks for making this available [online]," commented Ray Hardin ’75 MM, after watching the celebration "live." "It’s inspiring to see how NEC comes together to support its newest alumni. All best wishes as you launch your careers."

"Making music is as important now as it ever was," shared Jamie Kember ’05, one of the alumni who participated in the Pomp & Circumstance recording. "Society is looking to the arts to help heal. I believe very strongly that, as poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy wrote, musicians 'are the movers and shakers of the world for ever, it seems.' I look forward to seeing how we evolve."