What's New: Spring Edition

News from NEC alumni, students, and faculty members including The Merz Trio, Nan Yi, Michael Mayo, Marvin Gilmore, Emma Gies, Satoko Fujii, and others.

The Merz Trio, currently in residence in NEC's Professional Piano Trio Program, has released a short film conceived together with esteemed Vermont puppetry center Sandglass Theater. 

Created with videographer Chris Kitchen, lighting designer Jerry Stockman, puppeteer Shoshana Bass, and director Eric Bass, and the Trio's arrangement of a song by Nadia Boulanger, the piece “speaks directly to these “dull hours” that have crept over so many of us during this frozen time, but also offers hope for a “ray of sun” and the enduring power of life and art.”

Watch here

Nan Yi

Nan Yi ’21 MM is the winner of the ClefWorks 2020 Composition Competition.

Said Executive Director Jenny Brown:

“Nan Yi’s piece, entitled “Fenway Park” has been selected as the First Place Winner in the competition. Nan is a young composer, studying at the New England Conservatory of Music and reflecting on his new home of Boston, Massachusetts. Fenway captures his love for the city and was written during the unique summer of 2020.”

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Michael Mayo album cover for Bones. Michael is looking off to the side, lit in bright blue. The background is dark and moody.

Jazz alum Michael Mayo '14 has released a new album, Bones. JAZZIZ reports:

“Still in his early 20s, singer-composer Michael Mayo has developed his own lush, neo-soul sound that adroitly showcases his clear tenor, which glides over luxuriant clouds of his multi-tracked vocals...Mayo exhibits preternatural command in range and phrasing.”

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The Western Front interior, with minimalist orange and blue couches and transparent glass chic interior

Esteemed alum Marvin Gilmore ’51 has opened his latest venture at age 96—the Western Front dispensary in Chelsea.

“Not many would guess that a 96-year-old who has never used cannabis would want to build a dispensary. But for Gilmore, breaking into the cannabis industry was just another way to create opportunities for communities of color.”

Gilmore studied percussion at NEC before moving on to a lengthy community-minded career, which includes serving as President and CEO of the Community Development Corporation of Boston, co-founder of the Unity Bank and Trust Company in Roxbury, and owner of the Western Front reggae club in Cambridge until it closed in 2013.

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Blood on Gold Mountain cover art

Contemporary Improvisation alum Emma Gies ’19 MM has just launched Blood on Gold Mountain, a seven-episode storytelling podcast describes the little-known, horrific, 1871 Los Angeles Chinatown Massacre.

Emma won an EM Alumni Award in support of the project. Said Emma:

“We think our podcast's focus is quite topical given the recent number of hate-based incidents of violence and racism towards Asian-Americans this year. The Alumni Award allowed our team to hire podcast expert Evo Terra of Simpler Media Productions to guide us and make sure we're doing it right!”

Listen now


Satoko Fujii looks into the interior of a grand piano

Jazz alumna Satoko Fujii ’96 GD was featured in a New York Times profile.

Satoko studied at NEC with Paul Bley, and in the profile, she recounts a meaningful moment of advice from him:

“He said, ‘You cannot play like some other person. If you play like yourself, there is a reason to get your CD.’”

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Gunther Schuller conducts

Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times wrote of his memory of Gunther Schuller's time as President of New England Conservatory:

“For all his formidable skills and vision as a composer, Schuller may have been more consequential as a teacher, mentor, conductor and a tireless (sometimes shrill) agitator on behalf of contemporary music and living composers than as a writer of music himself.”

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  • Dr. Carleen Graham ’90 MM, ’91 GD has recently been appointed Associate Dean and Director of Vocal Arts at Manhattan School of Music

  • Joel Linscheid ’20 DMA won a position as the Director of Jazz/Assistant Professor at Augustana University in Illinois.

  • The Ladles, comprised of fiddler/singer Lucia Purpura-Pontoniere, guitarist/singer Katie Martucci ’16, and banjoist/singer Caroline Kuhn ’18, met in NEC's Contemporary Improvisation program and have released a new album, Springville Sessions

  • Accordionist & CI faculty member Guy Klucevsek was featured in an interview with Nico Bogaerts on Radio Panik in Brussels

  • Conducting alumni Holly Hyun Choe ’17 MM and Nathan Aspinall ’15 MM have been selected for the Malko Competition 2021

  • Edward Ferran ’23 took second prize at 4th Annual NextGen National: Finding the Voices of Tomorrow with The American Pops

  • Composition faculty Michael Gandolfi won the 2020 Distinguished Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation

  • Alumna Ashleigh Gordon ’08 MM and jazz faculty Nedelka Prescod ’12 MM offered their recommendations via the Boston Globe for "Black Composers to Hear Now" 

  • Brass faculty John McNeil was the subject of a feature in the International Trumpet Guild Journal

  • Jazz faculty Ethan Iverson continues his tradition of writing about jazz in cinema (see his earlier discussion of Pixar's Soul) for The Nation with a recent piece on The United States vs. Billie Holiday

  • Conducting alumnus Lio Kuokman ’13 GD was featured as an Artist of the Month in Musical America

  • Voice faculty Cristi Catt has released a new album with Telltale Crossing, which includes percussionist Taki Masuko ’85 MM and bassist Corey DiMario ’01, titled Door Ajar

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