Jazz Hero, Solti, Fischoff, and Coltman Awards for NEC Musicians

College faculty member Ran Blake, conducting alum Aram Demirjian, and Prep students Ariel Wang, Luke Henderson, Evan Tsai, Sarah Campbell, Luke Henderson, Nathan Emans, and Zani Lewis have been honored for lifetime contributions to jazz, excellence in conducting, and exceptional musicianship in young chamber musicians, respectively.

NEC faculty member Ran Blake has been honored with the 2020 Boston Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalists Association. In celebration, Blake will offer a solo concert from his home, as well as a live interview with veteran jazz writer and JJA representative Bob Blumenthal.

The concert and interview will take place on Saturday, May 23 at 7 p.m. ET.

Blake is one of 27 jazz heroes in 23 cities across the country chosen as “activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz.” In his 52 years on NEC's faculty, he has influenced countless musicians, and has an indelible impact on the history of music-making at the Conservatory as the founder of the Third Stream (now Contemporary Improvisation) department at NEC.

Learn more & RSVP for Saturday, May 23 


Conducting alum Aram Demirjian ’11 MM has won the Solti Award, the largest grant currently given to American conductors in the formative years of their careers.

Aram is currently the Music Director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and makes frequent appearances with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

"We have observed Aram's growth as a conductor over the past several years and are pleased to now award him with The Solti Fellow," said Penny Van Horn, chair of the Sir Georg Solti Foundation Board. "He has grown steadily in his craft and is innovative in his approach to Classical music. We look forward to seeing what his future holds."

Listen: interview with Aram Demirjan

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The Phillips Trio

The Phillips Trio—comprised of NEC Preparatory School students Ariel Wang (piano), Luke Henderson (violin), and Evan Tsai (cello) won first prize in the 47th Annual Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, America’s premier educational chamber music competition.

Wang, Henderson, and Tsai formed their trio in the fall of 2019 “as a result of three years of friendship and a lifetime love of chamber music,” as reported by Phillips Academy, where they are rising seniors in the class of 2021.

All three are active in NEC Prep, where they hope to participate in the Chamber Music Intensive Performance Seminar (CHIPS) led by Merry Peckham next year. Luke currently participates in CHIPS with the Kaza Quartet (see below), and Ariel placed first in NEC Prep’s Concerto Competition in 2019.

Watch Fischoff's video interview with Phillips Trio

Listen to Phillips Trio in the 2020 Fischoff Competition Gold Medal Winners Concert

The Kaza Quartet smiles backstage with a caption that reads "Ready to go on!"

The Kaza Quartet, comprised of NEC Preparatory School students Sarah Campbell (violin), Luke Henderson (violin; also of the Phillips Trio), Nathan Emans (viola), and Zani Lewis (cello), recently won First Place in the Junior Division of the Coltman Chamber Music Competition in Austin, Texas.

The Kaza Quartet was formed in September of 2019 as part of the Chamber Music Intensive Performance Seminar (CHIPS) at NEC Prep. Its members study Mai Motobuchi (Borromeo String Quartet), Jonathan Ong (Verona Quartet), Mickey Katz, and Paul Biss.

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