Two NEC Alumni Win 2024 Music Composition Guggenheim Fellowships

​​Yoon-Ji Lee ’06 MM, ’07 GD and Nicole Rampersaud ’06 MM are among 188 artists, scholars, and scientists honored. 

NEC alumni ​​Yoon-Ji Lee ’06 MM, ’07 GD and Nicole Rampersaud ’06 MM were awarded 2024 Guggenheim Fellowships in the “Music Composition” category, announced on April 11. Lee and Rampersaud are two of 14 composers among the list of 188 total artists, scholars, and scientists selected for the honor by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants, the Class of 2024 Guggenheim Fellows were determined based on prior career achievement and exceptional promise. 

"Humanity faces some profound existential challenges," said Edward Hirsch, award-winning poet and president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. "The Guggenheim Fellowship is a life-changing recognition. It's a celebrated investment into the lives and careers of distinguished artists, scholars, scientists, writers, and other cultural visionaries who are meeting these challenges head-on and generating new possibilities and pathways across the broader culture as they do so." Since its founding in 1925, the Foundation has awarded over $400 million in fellowships to more than 19,000 fellows, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates and poets laureates, as well as winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, and other internationally recognized honors. Find a list of NEC's past Guggenheim Fellows.

Yoon-Ji Lee

 "I am so incredibly honored to join the esteemed community of Guggenheim Fellows,” said Lee, who earned her Master of Music and Graduate Diploma in Composition at NEC. “Reflecting on my journey at NEC, as an international student, I was faced with so many difficult challenges, and it was thanks to my composition mentor, Robert Cogan, that I found not just an extraordinary mentor, but a place to belong and grow. His guidance has been instrumental in unlocking my creative potential and refining my compositional voice, and I miss him dearly. I also would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to professors Lee Hyla, Malcolm C. Peyton, and Michael Gandolfi, whose wisdom and support have profoundly shaped my musical journey at NEC. I am also indebted to my peers from the jazz, CMA, and classical departments, whose friendship, talents, influence, and willingness to experiment have enriched both my compositions and teaching.”

Marked by a dynamic emphasis on rapid juxtaposition and transformation of disparate elements, her compositions intricately weave together acoustic and electroacoustic mediums while actively embracing interdisciplinary, multimedia, and intercultural influences, delving into themes rooted in contemporary society, history, and culture. 

Lee has received numerous fellowships and artist residencies, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the McKnight/American Composers Forum Visiting Composer Fellowship, the Fromm Foundation Commission, the Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, Yaddo, National Sawdust, the Virginia Center for the Arts, among others. Lee’s music has been performed in Korea and the U.S. by ensembles including JACK Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, Argento Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, and Ensemble Mise-en. 

“During my Guggenheim Fellowship tenure, I will focus on refining my experimental, intercultural, and multimedia opera, Sunday Supper. Originally showcased at the Summer Labs at National Sawdust in 2018, this work is currently undergoing extensive development for a new production. The new production will feature three vocalists and seven performers playing clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, gayageum, piri/saenghwang, and percussion with electronics with generative interactive video.”

Lee’s artistic mission is to promote fresh insights into humanity and the human experience through the exploration of novel musical forms and innovative approaches to sound. Her work addresses topics such as the Korean “comfort women,” the unsettling identities resulting from migration, and the NYC subway noise as an embodiment of the city’s different cultures. Upcoming engagements include Holding Space: After Great Pain for double bass and multi-channel electronics commissioned by the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States and Here, a large chamber ensemble piece with multimedia about the histories of Korean American adoptees. 

Along with her Master's and Graduate Diploma from NEC, Lee received her Ph.D. from New York University (GSAS) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Ewha Womans University. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music.

Learn more about Yoon-Ji Lee.

Nicole Rampersaud - Credit Kevin MacCormack

Internationally recognized composer, trumpeter, and improviser Nicole Rampersaud ’06 MM earned her Master of Music in Jazz Performance at NEC with faculty members Jerry BergonziJohn McNeil, Joseph Morris, and Danilo Perez. Her adventurous versatility has led to collaborations with notable figures such as Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, Ra-kalam Bob Moses, Joe Morris, Roscoe Mitchell, Nate Wooley, Sylvie Courvoisier, Anthony Coleman, Raven Chacon, and Ig Henneman. She's performed at major venues and festivals, including the Toronto Jazz Festival, Suoni per il Popolo, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Massey Hall, Aga Khan Museum, National Art Gallery of Canada, Guelph Jazz Festival, Cornell University’s Symposium - After Experimental Music, and Göteberg Art Sounds Festival (Sweden). 

Rampersaud’s primary groups include Brass Knuckle Sandwich (with celebrated pianist Marilyn Lerner), a duo with guitarist Joel LeBlanc, and the trio c_RL, which she co-founded alongside Allison Cameron and Germaine Liu. She is also a member of Brodie West’s Eucalyptus and regularly performs and records with Joseph Shabason. Her compositions have been commissioned by the EVERYSEEKER Festival, where she was the first composer-in-residence, Festival RE:FLUX, the Canadian Music Centre's CMC Presents Series and Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Wales, the Festival of New Trumpet Music in New York, the Suddenly Listen series in Halifax, and the Confederation Art Centre Gallery in PEI. In 2021, she co-founded the improvisation-driven multi-disciplinary series Understory, which uses technology to reimagine collaboration between artists across Canada.

Learn more about Nicole Rampersaud.