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New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies & Contemporary Improvisation Departments Present Nearly 50 Free Performances For The Winter/spring 2014 Season

SOURCE: Published: 2013-12-22
Plus Two Events at Museum of Fine Arts and Residencies with World-Renowned Performers January 16 – May 30, 2014

Highlights include Sun Ra Centennial Concerts; World Premieres of Charles Mingus’ Half-Mast Inhibition and Gunther Schuller’s From Here to There; A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall; Jazz and the Struggle for Freedom and Equality; residency by Dave Holland; and In the Mix one-hour concerts by exceptional student ensembles

New England Conservatory’s internationally renowned Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation Departments announce nearly 50 free concerts in Winter/Spring 2014. Highlights include world premieres of Charles Mingus’ Half-Mast Inhibition and Gunther Schuller’s From Here to There; a Sun Ra Centennial Concert; the Music of Dave Holland, who leads NEC students in a performance of his music; Jazz and the Struggle for Freedom and Equality, featuring some of the landmark compositions created to combat racism and bigotry; A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, exploring a performer’s identity as an artist in relation to struggles, challenges, and social issues; In the Mix, 39 one-hour concerts featuring exceptional student ensembles from the Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation departments, and faculty recitals by NEC luminaries including Tanya Kalmanovitch, Vanessa Morris and Robert Labaree. Many of these concerts are part of NEC's year-long festival on the theme of “Music: Truth to Power." They demonstrate just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, log on to: necmusic.edu/jazz or call 617-585-1260.

In addition, NEC offers two programs at the Museum of Fine Arts: Off the Score: Beethoven's Legacy Among Contemporary Improvisers and Sun Ra’s Centenary: Space is Still the Most Colorful Place.

Winter/Spring 2014

Concerts at 8 p.m. unless noted. In the Mix events take place at 7, 8 and 9 p.m., each with a different ensemble.

Thurs. Jan. 16 7 p.m. Triangle Brown Hall

With text by NEC liberal arts chair Patrick Keppel and music by Bradley Kemp '02, and using Bunraku-inspired tabletop puppets, Triangle is a 2011 multimedia play that explores the legacy of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in which 146 women died, many jumping to their deaths. In this performance, musicians and puppeteers from the original New York cast will join with NEC singers and improvisers to tell the Triangle story through text, puppetry, and an improvisatory soundscape. This concert is part of NEC’s year-long “Music: Truth to Power" festival.

Mon. Jan. 27 Jazz/Contemporary Improvisation Faculty Spotlight Concert Jordan Hall
Sun. Feb. 2 Violist/Improvisor Tanya Kalmanovitch Faculty Recital Jordan Hall
Thurs. Feb. 13 7 p.m. Third Stream Headwaters Jordan Hall

Charles Peltz, Director of Wind Ensemble Activities, conducts a program in which he traces the history of NEC's unique Contemporary Improvisation (originally known as Third Stream ) program and the extraordinary music it has unleashed. This concert – and one on March 6 – offer the premiere performances of From Here to There a work commissioned by NEC from past president Gunther Schuller and Charles Mingus’ Half-Mast Inhibition the earliest orchestral work by visionary jazz bassist Charles Mingus. Gunther Schuller recorded the work in 1959—it is not believed to have been performed in concert until now. This concert is part of NEC’s year-long “Music: Truth to Power" festival.

Tues. Feb. 18 A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall Jordan Hall

CI students and faculty use original works and recompositions to explore their identities as artists in relation to the struggles, challenges and social issues that they come up against every day. Following in the tradition of such greats as Bob Dylan, Pete and Peggy Seeger, Abbey Lincoln, John Coltrane, Dmitri Shostakovich, Amkoullel, and Arya Aramnejad, they will turn themselves and their communities inside-out, examining the way that music shapes and is shaped by one’s place in the world around us. Part of NEC’s year-long “Music: Truth to Power" festival.

Thurs. Feb. 27 Jazz and the Struggle for Freedom and Equality Jordan Hall

Ken Schaphorst leads the NEC Jazz Orchestra in some of the landmark compositions created to combat racism and bigotry. Selections include Charles Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song,” “Fables of Faubus,” “Freedom, and Meditations on Integration” and Carla Bley’s “Dreamkeeper” as well as excerpts from Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown and Beige.” Part of NEC’s year-long “Music: Truth to Power" festival.

Thurs. March 6 7 p.m. Crossing Over Jordan Hall

New England Conservatory and NEC’s Charles Peltz host the College Band Directors National Association Eastern Division Conference. The conference theme, “Crossing Over," is reflected in programming created for this concert by conductors Peltz and William Drury. This concert – and one on February 13 - offer the premiere performances of From Here to There a work commissioned by NEC from past president Gunther Schuller and Charles Mingus’ Half-Mast Inhibition the earliest orchestral work by the visionary jazz bassist. Schuller recorded the work in 1959—it is not believed to have been performed in concert until now. This concert is part of NEC’s “Music: Truth to Power" festival.

March 9 – 13 Dave Holland Residency

Thurs. March 13 6 p.m. Off the Score: Beethoven's Legacy Among Contemporary MFA, Boston Free with Museum Admission. Improvisers
  • Wed. March 26 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Thurs. March 27 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Thurs. March 27 Turkish Songs of Protest Jordan Hall
Robert Labaree and Dünya Ensemble perform music based on Ottoman poetry from the 16th century to the present. This concert is part of NEC’s year-long “Music: Truth to Power" festival.
  • Mon. March 31 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Tues. April 1 Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation Honors Ensembles Jordan Hall
  • Wed. April 2 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Thurs. April 3 Jazz: The Next Generation Brown Hall
  • Mon. April 7 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Tues. April 8 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Wed. April 9 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Thurs. April 10 NEC Jazz Composers Ensemble Brown Hall
  • Tues. April 15 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Wed. April 16 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Thurs. April 17 Sun Ra Centennial Concert Jordan Hall
Ken Schaphorst leads the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Sun Ra’s arrival day with many of his classic compositions including “A Call for All Demons,” “Brainville,” “Planet Earth,” “Saturn,” “Space is the Place,” “El is the Sound of Joy," “Enlightenment," “Love in Outer Space," “Satellites are Spinning," and “We Travel the Spaceways." This concert is part of NEC’s “Music: Truth to Power" festival.
  • Mon. April 21 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Tues. April 22 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Mon. April 28 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Tues. April 29 Jazz Composers Workshop Orchestra directed by Frank Carlberg Jordan Hall
  • Wed. April 30 In the Mix Pierce Hall
  • Sunday, May 11 2 p.m. Sun Ra’s Centenary: Space is Still the Most Colorful Place MFA
  • Sun Ra was one of the most influential big-band leaders and
Tickets $15 - $18 experimental jazz musicians of the 20th century, creating avant-garde jazz years before its time. NEC’s Ken Schaphorst leads a 10-piece ensemble performing Sun Ra's compositions and arrangements, accompanied by stories and projected imagery depicting his fascination with space and ancient civilizations led by MFA Egypt expert Larry Berman.
  • Saturday, May 17 7:30 p.m. Commencement Concert Jordan Hall
  • Tues. May 20 NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra directed by Ken Schaphorst Jordan Hall
  • Friday, May 30 Vanessa Morris NEC Prep Faculty Recital Brown Hall


NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur “genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters, and alumni that reads like a who’s who of jazz. Now in its 44th year, the program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC’s jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.” The program currently has 114 students; 67 undergraduate and 47 graduate students from 12 countries.


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