What's New: Kicking Off 2021

News from NEC alumni, students, and faculty members including Jason Moran, Abi Fayette, Audrey Chen, Angelo Xiang Yu, Donnell L. Patterson, Christine Lamprea, Tony Rymer, Tahirah Whittington, Gabriel Martins, Ronald Haroutunian, Ashley Marie Robillard, John Heiss, and others.

WBZ-4 CBS Boston profiled the NEC student teaching fellows who are teaching music lessons to front line medical workers as part of the Boston Hope Music Project, in association with NEC's Community Performances & Partnerships program.

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Jason Moran in black and white photo

NBC profiled NEC jazz faculty member Jason Moran, highlighting his new release, the role of a musician in society, and the need for conservatories to talk about Black people and issues while teaching jazz and blues music:

The jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran was wrapping up three days of recording in Brooklyn when an angry mob of Trump supporters ambushed the U.S. Capitol. He put his phone down after reading the news and decided to get his project out immediately as a way to help the nation heal from its divisiveness.

“The Sound Will Tell You” is Moran’s latest musical collection featuring 12 songs released on Bandcamp four days ahead of its original Jan. 15 date. A MacArthur fellow, Moran named the songs after his favorite passages from works by Toni Morrison, which he has been revisiting while sheltering at home during the pandemic.

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In a trifecta of quartet news:

Congratulations to all!


Alumnus and former Prep faculty Donnell L. Patterson ’82 was part of a Boston Spirit magazine feature by Rev. Irene Monroe on queerness, gospel music, and the Black church:

“In James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” the protagonist, thinly veiled as himself, wrestles with two critical questions: What does it mean to be a Black American, and what does it mean to be gay? One answer is located in the Black church. 


“Donnell Patterson told me his “entire life has been gospel music,” and he has the resume to prove it. [...] “A day without gay people in the choir, there would be no church and in some cases pastors, too. Gays are integral to the black church, and it can’t deny it,” Patterson stated emphatically.”

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alumni Christine Lamprea, Tony Rymer, and Tahirah Whittington, and master's student Gabriel Martins
NEC alumni Christine LampreaTony Rymer, and Tahirah Whittington, and master's student Gabriel Martins will perform in a special joint concert presentation by NEC and The Sphinx Organization, premiering on February 28

In an example of the film's animation, William rides to the Usher house. / Operabox.tv

Bassoonist Ronald Haroutunian ’78 discusses his recent performance with the Boston Lyric Opera:

"The invigorating and soaring music shows why music is food for the soul."

That's how Ronald Haroutunian of Arlington describes the parts he plays in "The Fall of the House of Usher," a new film of an opera by Phillip Glass, produced by Boston Lyric Opera exclusively for its streaming service, Operabox.tv. The genre-breaking film mixes hand-drawn animation with stop-motion animation alongside curated archival footage.

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Ashley Marie Robillard

Prep alum Ashley Marie Robillard ’13 Prep was profiled by Philadelphia Gay News, speaking about the community and financial support that allowed her to pursue opera, her LGBTQ identity, and the inspiration of being around artists of other genres:

What’s the most unusual extracurricular thing you did in school?

I grew up in Norton, Massachusetts, and on Saturdays the music department would go to Boston for choir and orchestra at NEC (New England Conservatory). There was a bus at 9am for the musicians and then a bus at 3 for the chorus kids. I would take the 9am bus and then walk around the city by myself. I’d go to the Museum of Fine Arts first and then I’d get a $1 slice of pizza and wander for hours. Even though I was walking in public spaces, and shared locations, it was intensely personal and meditative. It was almost a ritual. 

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John Heiss

A recent New York Flute Club feature on John Heiss opens with the story of how the "Pitch Doctor" discovered his perfect pitch, and then develops into a profile of the beloved faculty member's long career:

Bronxville, New York, 1942. A young John Heiss attended his first day of nursery school. He stared at the piano impatiently until his teacher finally walked over to lead them in a song, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Excited, he prepared himself; he knew this song! But then the first notes appeared, and they were wrong. The song didn’t start on those pitches!

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