What’s New: Winter 2022

News from NEC alumni, students, and faculty members including Isabella Dawis, Michael Gandolfi and John Ferrillo, Ran Blake, Melissa Weikart, Anthony León, Tristan Rais-Sherman, Lukáš Vondráček, and more.

Isabella Dawis

Isabella Dawis ‘16 is the recent recipient of two major awards: as a librettist, the 2022 Kleban Prize for New Dramatists; and as a lyricist, the 2021 Fred Ebb Award for musical theater songwriting, along with her collaborator, composer Tidtaya Sinutoke. Dawis also won NEC’s Alumni Grant last year for this project!

Learn more about Isabella





Michael Gandolfi - BSO - Jordan Hall

Former faculty member and oboist Laura Ahlbeck was honored by the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Players with a powerful new work by NEC faculty chair of composition Michael Gandolfi ‘79, ‘81 MM. Laura tragically passed away after a battle with a degenerative brain disease in 2015. In addition to teaching at NEC, Laura had also served as a substitute with the BSO and often played principal oboe with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.

The new piece was commissioned for principal oboe of the BSO, faculty member John Ferrillo.

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Ran Blake - Looking Glass Album Cover

Ran Blake, Chair Emeritus of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Department, recently released a new album, Looking Glass, which was reviewed by Jon Garelick at Boston’s online arts magazine, The Arts Fuse.

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Melissa Weikart

Melissa Weikart ‘18 MM has been signed to Northern Spy Records. Weikart, who originally began at NEC as a Prep student, previously won a NEC Entrepreneurial Musician Grant while studying Contemporary Improvisation for "Wouldn't It Be Nice: Pet Sounds Reimagined," her recomposition of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds performed by an all-female vocal choir and rock band; she also co-founded Students Advocating for Gender Equity.

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Anthony Leon

Anthony León '21 MM, AD '23 recently won the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition in the Los Angeles District. He currently studies voice under Bradley Williams.

Learn more about the competition








Tristan Rais-Sherman ‘21 AD was appointed as one of two conducting fellows with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the 2022-2023 seasons. Coincidentally, this will follow the term of fellow NEC alum Lina González-Granados ‘14 MM. Learn more

Lukáš Vondráček ‘12 AD performed as featured piano soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in early February, in a program conducted by Jakub Hrůša, featuring works from Janáček, Rachmaninoff, and Dvořák. Learn more

Alexi Kenney ‘15, ‘17 AD made his debut with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, with his interpretation of Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto. Learn more

Faculty member Jerry Bergonzi performed overseas in February with a show at Jazz Hastings in Hastings, England. The show was dedicated to the memory of Agatha Coffey, who was a co-founder of the venue and non-profit that brought national and international jazz stars to the club, and who passed away in early 2021. Learn more

Faculty member Nicholas Cords performed at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in an exciting multidisciplinary production of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, playing Kaija Saariaho’s Vent Nocturne for viola and electronics, alongside Pam Tanowitz Dance and actress Kathleen Chalfant. Learn more

Stella Chen ‘16 MM was interviewed by The Violin Channel in advance of her debut with the New York Philharmonic in a performance celebrating Lunar New Year. Read more