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Performance Opportunities: Chamber Ensembles

String ensemble on stage.

Each semester, hundreds of NEC students participate in up to 75 chamber music ensembles coached by NEC chamber music faculty members.

The ensembles represent a wide array of genres and musical styles. They include string quartets, piano trios, woodwind quintets, brass quintets, and mixed ensembles comprising winds and piano, winds, strings, and piano, or percussion, strings, and brass.

String ensemble on stage.

Chamber Music Courses

Students interested in participating in a chamber music course must register for the course first and then submit an application and audition video. Every effort is made to place individuals, and top priority is given to students needing chamber music credit to graduate. Requests for pre-formed full groups are honored as much as possible; partial-group requests are not accepted. Individuals are welcome to apply.

During orientation events or at the start of each school year, a chamber music reading party or virtual get-to-know-you event is offered for individuals to meet possible collaborators and form a group.

Roster of Chamber Music Ensembles and Getting Started

At the beginning of each semester, a roster of all chamber music assignments will be posted, including group personnel, repertoire, and a coach for each group. All groups are required to attend the designated organizational meeting and, in the subsequent days, will meet with NEC administration to schedule space for the semester’s rehearsal meetings and coaching sessions.

Chamber Music Course Requirements

Chamber music groups are required to rehearse a minimum of three hours per week and schedule/receive 13 hours of private coaching over the course of the semester. Each group will play in two performance classes and receive comments and feedback from a chamber music coach other than the group’s assigned coach. At the end of the semester, each group is required to perform at one of 12 scheduled chamber music showcase recitals.

Midway through the fall semester, groups may apply to participate in the Community Performances and Partnership (CPP) Fellows Program, which gives student ensembles the opportunity to connect and build relationships with the Boston community.

Beethoven String Quartet Seminar

String ensemble on the Jordan Hall stage.

String quartets may request to participate in the Beethoven String Quartet Seminar during the fall semester. The group will have the opportunity to work with each member of NEC’s quartet-in-residence, the Borromeo String Quartet, and perform at the end of the fall semester in Jordan Hall on or around Beethoven’s birthday.

Interested individuals may also audition for the opportunity to collaborate on and perform at the Borromeo String Quartet’s Guest Artist Concert.

String ensemble on the Jordan Hall stage.

How to Participate

Guitar Ensemble

Two students playing guitar together.

Guitar Ensemble

The NEC Guitar Ensemble studies basic ensemble practices, strives to improve sight reading skills, and performs repertoire from the 14th century to the present day.

Saxophone Ensemble

Two students playing saxophone.

The NEC saxophone ensemble is dedicated to exploring the diverse repertoire and pushing the boundaries of saxophone performance. This ensemble delivers electrifying performances showcasing the versatility and artistry of the saxophone across musical genres.

Two students playing saxophone.

Honors Ensembles

Are you ready for a showcase performance in one of the world’s top concert halls, NEC’s Jordan Hall? Are you looking for a springboard for your group to become a permanent, professional ensemble?

The NEC Honors Ensembles, selected by competitive audition, exhibit both extraordinary artistic accomplishment and a commitment to working together. The bonds that NEC Honors Ensemble members forge often lead to groups remaining together for the remainder of their NEC studies — and, for some ensembles, performing together may even become a lifelong vocation.

Orchestra playing string instruments.

Groups that exhibit both extraordinary accomplishment and a commitment to work together are encouraged to audition midway through the fall semester. An outside panel of jurors reviews classical chamber music groups. NEC faculty select jazz, Contemporary Musical Arts, and “wild card” groups. The groups selected through this process become NEC Honors Ensembles for the remainder of the school year, during which time they receive special mentoring and the guarantee of a Jordan Hall recital.

Each classical group’s concert program includes a world-premiere of a selected NEC student composition. In addition, each select Honors Ensemble participates in the Honors Boost retreat, which is designed to prepare the group for community engagement performances for which group members receive a stipend.