All students majoring in an orchestral instrument participate in NEC's orchestra program, under the leadership of Hugh Wolff, Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras at NEC. David Loebel, as Associate Director of Orchestras, also conducts a large number of concerts each year. Donald Palma coaches the conductorless NEC Chamber Orchestra.

As an orchestra member, you will have a full season of rehearsals, concerts, and reading sessions under conditions matching the professional orchestra world.

  • At least five public concerts per year, plus full opera productions
  • Emphasis on learning a wide range of repertoire and styles
  • Sectionals led by Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians
  • Reading sessions with visiting BSO conductors

In addition to this core program, specialized ensembles provide additional playing opportunities for wind, brass, and percussion majors. Outside of your credit-bearing orchestra, you may also participate in the paid Lab Orchestra, where you will read scores under the direction of participants in NEC's orchestral conducting program.

Current students: Find audition schedules, ensemble audition information, and required orchestral excerpts here.


You can listen to and/or watch most of the recent repertoire listed on this page, at NEC's InstantEncore and YouTube channels. Visitors to NEC's Blumenthal Family Library may listen to recordings of these and other NEC concerts.

Conducted by Hugh Wolff

Hugh Wolff, NEC's Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, conducts roughly half of each year's orchestra concerts in Jordan Hall. Wolff has brought the NEC Philharmonia to perform in Boston's Symphony Hall in 2010 and 2014.

Adams Lollapalooza
Barber Serenade for StringsViolin ConcertoCello ConcertoSchool for Scandal Overture
Bartók The Miraculous Mandarin Suite
Beethoven Overture to Egmont, Piano Concerto No. 4, Symphonies Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 
Berlioz Overture to Benvenuto Cellini, Roméo et JulietteSymphonie Fantastique 
Borodin Polovtsian Dances
Brahms Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 3
Britten Violin Concerto
Debussy Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
Dun Concerto for Orchestra after Marco Polo
Dvorák Symphonies Nos. 5, 6
Elgar "Enigma" Variations
Gandolfi "The Nonsense" from The Garden of Cosmic Speculation
Gershwin An American in Paris
Golijov Last Round
Harbison Remembering Gatsby
Haydn Symphonies Nos. 82, 90
Ives Symphony No. 2The Unanswered Question
Janacek Jealousy
Kirchner Music for Flute and Orchestra
Mahler songs from Des Knaben WunderhornSymphonies Nos. 1, 3
Mozart Symphony No. 35
Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 3
Ravel Piano Concerto, Une barque sur l'ocean 
Salonen L.A. Variations
Schubert Symphony No. 9
Schumann Cello ConcertoSymphony No. 1
Shorter Prometheus Unbound
Shostakovich Symphony No. 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 11
Sibelius En sagaViolin Concerto
Strauss Also sprach ZarathustraDon JuanTill Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche
Stravinsky Rite of Spring, Firebird, Fireworks
Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 4
Wagner Die Meistersinger von NürnbergTristan und Isolde Prelude and Liebestod
Walton Viola Concerto

Conducted by David Loebel

Following an 11-year tenure as music director of the Memphis Symphony, with frequent visits to conduct at NEC, David Loebel was named Associate Director of Orchestras at NEC in 2010.

Agócs Shenanigan
Bach Cantata "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort"
Bartók Piano Concerto No. 2Dance Suite for Orchestra
Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2, 3
Berg Violin Concerto
Berlioz Béatrice et Bénédict OvertureChasse Royale et Orage
Bernstein Overture to Candide
Berwald Konzertstück for bassoon and orchestra
Brahms Violin Concerto, Hyperions SchicksalsliedNänieRequiem
Britten Sinfonia da Requiem
Chadwick Symphonic Sketches: Jubilee
Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1
Copland Billy the KidRodeo
Debussy Images
Dohnányi Suite romantique
DvořáSlavonic Dances, Symphony No. 7
Elgar Cello Concerto, "Enigma" Variations
Haydn Symphony No. 102 2013-10-09 listen
Hindemith Symphony "Mathis der Maler"
Ives New England Holidays
Kodály Dances of Galánta
Mahler Symphonies Nos. 1, 4, 10
Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3
Messiaen L'Ascension
Mozart Ballet Music for Idomeneo, Symphony No. 28
Prokofiev Symphony No. 5
Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances
Ravel La ValseValses nobles et sentimentales
Respighi Fountains of Rome
Rossini Overture to William Tell
Rouse The Nevill Feast
Satie Gymnopédies
Schoenberg Pieces for Orchestra
Schubert "Unfinished" Symphony
Schwantner New Morning for the World
Sibelius Symphony No. 7
Strauss Death and Transfiguration
Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos. 5, 6, The Nutcracker (Pas de Deux), Violin Concerto
Thomson Symphony on a Hymn Tune
Tippett Suite for the birthday of Prince Charles
Weill Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny

NEC's conductorless orchestra

The NEC Chamber Orchestra, NEC’s conductorless orchestra, was founded in 2000 by double bassist Donald Palma, a founding member of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

Music of the classical orchestra era by Handel, Haydn, and Mozart is at the core of virtually every program, along with an occasional baroque work and modern works for chamber orchestra.

Bartók Divertimento
Bridge Idylls
Britten Les IlluminationsPrelude and Fugue for 18-part String Orchestra, Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge
Dvořák Serenade in E Major
Elgar Serenade in E MinorIntroduction and Allegro
Grieg Holberg Suite
Handel Concerti Grossi Nos. 2, 8, Symphonies Nos. 44, 45, 52
Mozart Divertimento No. 11Serenade No. 6Sinfonia concertanteSymphony No. 29, Divertimento in D Major for Oboe, Two Horns, and Strings, Concerto for Oboe in C Major
Piazzolla Four, for Tango
Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht
Schreker Intermezzo and Scherzo
Séjourné Concerto for Marimba and Strings
Shostakovich Chamber Symphonies Opp. 110a, 118a
Stravinsky Concerto for String Orchestra, from Apollon musagète Apollo's Variation
Suk Serenade for Strings
Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings
Veress Four Transylvanian Dances
Walton Sonata for Strings
Waxman Sinfonietta for Strings and Timpani
Webern Five Movements, Op. 5

Variety of Approaches

BSO assistant conductors and visiting conductors

Since the 1990s, Boston Symphony Orchestra assistant conductors have been frequent guests at NEC, leading concerts by student orchestras. Visiting guest conductors have also taken time away from their busy rehearsal schedules with the BSO to conduct impromptu reading sessions with NEC student orchestras. These guest conductors have included: Raphael Frühbeck de Burgos, Julian Kuerti, Marcelo Lehninger, Fabio Luisi, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano.

Other guest conductors

Guest conductors from near and far expose students to a variety of conducting styles and approaches to repertoire. Recent guests have included Paul Biss of the faculty and alumni Mei-Ann Chen and Joshua Weilerstein, as well as: Gustavo Dudamel, Jefferey Kahane, Andrew Litton, Tito Muñoz, Gil Rose, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Christopher Wilkins.

NEC orchestral conducting majors

Hugh Wolff, Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras at NEC, works with Orchestral Conducting majors at the graduate level. As part of this training program, students rehearse and perform with the NEC Lab Orchestra under realistic professional conditions.