New England Conservatory’s Acclaimed Jazz Studies Department And Pioneering Contemporary Improvisation Department Continues Fall 2020 Season


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Highlights include the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a Charlie Parker tribute, Lost Voices, a concert dedicated to amplifying underheard artists, and more than a dozen concerts featuring exceptional student ensembles coached by renowned faculty members
New England Conservatory’s internationally renowned Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation (CI) Departments continues their 2020 fall season with an array of livestream and virtual performances. Highlights include Anthropology: Music of Charlie Parker with the NEC Jazz Orchestra, Lost Voices, a concert showcasing and amplifying music by underheard artists, as well as more than a dozen concerts feature NEC’s exceptional students performing everything from the fiddle music of New England, Persian music, contemporary chamber music, early jazz and West African music.

Fall 2020 Season

Monday, November 2 | Carlberg Ensemble
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Performances by a small jazz ensemble coached by Frank Carlberg.

Wednesday, November 4 | Morris Ensemble
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Performances by a small jazz ensemble coached by Joe Morris.

Thursday, November 5 | McNeil and Bergonzi Ensembles
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Performances by small jazz ensembles coached by John McNeil and Jerry Bergonzi.

Friday, November 6 | American Roots and CI Chamber Ensembles
7 p.m. American Roots Ensemble
Directed by Eden MacAdam-Somer, this ensemble uses American musical traditions. This year, a string quartet of CI students celebrates fiddle music of New England, with influences from Celtic, Scandinavian, and Québécois traditions.

9 p.m. CI Chamber Ensemble
Directed by Lautaro Mantilla, this ensemble explores the boundaries between composition, improvisation, and international music through written and aural traditions.

Monday, November 9 | McBee and Coleman Early Jazz Ensembles
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Performances by small jazz ensembles coached by Cecil McBee and Anthony Coleman.

Tuesday, November 10 | Mandé West African Ensemble
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m.
The Mandé West African Ensemble directed by Balla Kouyaté, is an introduction to West African history and culture through music, offering students the opportunity to learn songs from a repertoire of West African music, including songs from the Wassalou, Bambara, Songhai ethnic groups and the Djeli tradition.

Wednesday, November 11 | Levy and Zenón Ensembles
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Performances by small jazz ensembles coached by Brian Levy and Miguel Zenon.

Thursday, November 12, 7 p.m. | Eade Ensembles
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Performances by small jazz ensembles coached by Dominique Eade.

Friday, November 13 | Nieske Ensemble
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Small jazz ensemble coached by Bob Nieske.

Monday, November 16 | Dijkstra and Lockwood Ensembles
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m., Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Small jazz ensembles coached by Jorrit Dijkstra and John Lockwood.

Wednesday, November 18 | CI and Jazz Ensembles for Non-Majors
Sets at 7 and 9 p.m. Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
These ensembles, directed by Mark Zaleski, offer students outside of the Contemporary Improvisation and Jazz departments opportunities to explore improvisation, jazz, songwriting and world music traditions.

Thursday, November 19 | NEC Jazz Orchestra Anthropology: Music of Charlie Parker
7:30 p.m. Livestreamed from Jordan Hall
The NEC Jazz orchestra celebrates Charlie Parker’s centennial with a performance featuring arrangements of his compositions “Anthropology,” “Confirmation,” “Moose the Mooche,” and “Yardbird Suite.”

Monday, November 23 | Open Form Ensemble and Survivors Breakfast
Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
7 p.m. – Open Form Ensemble
Directed by Anthony Coleman, this student ensemble explores experimental scores for small ensemble. The group will perform open form pieces including Four Systems by Earle Brown, The Gentle by Pauline Oliveros, Paragraph VI from The Great Learning by Cornelius Cardew, and Les Moutons de Panurge by Frederic Rzewski.
9 p.m. – Survivors Breakfast Directed by Anthony Coleman, this ensemble explores the wonderful and terrifying space between composition and improvisation. Repertoire includes original compositions by ensemble members along with pieces by John Zorn, Christian Wolff and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Tuesday, November 24 | Persian Music Ensemble
7 p.m. Livestreamed from Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
In the Persian Music Ensemble, directed by Nima Janmohammadi, NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation students share music from the canon of Persian music learned in the traditional aural method.

Monday, November 30th | Lost Voices
7:30 p.m. Recorded at Jordan Hall
This Contemporary Improvisation Department concert produced by Anthony Coleman and Lautaro Mantilla is dedicated to pursuing, excavating, amplifying, and illuminating art and artists missing from the conversation, with works performed and arranged by CI students.

Tuesday, December 8 | Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra
8 p.m.
The Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra, directed is devoted to rehearsing and performing works by NEC Jazz Composition students. Coached by pianist/composer and NEC jazz faculty member Frank Carlberg, the ensemble gives its composers the opportunity to learn how to rehearse and conduct a band, as well as have their works heard.

About NEC’s Jazz Studies Department

NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became president of the Conservatory in 1967. He soon hired saxophonist Carl Atkins as the first department chair, as well as other greats including NEA Jazz Master George Russell, pianist Jaki Byard and Ran Blake. The foundation of its teaching and success begins with the mentor relationship developed in lessons between students and the prominent faculty artists. In addition to its two jazz orchestras, faculty-coached small ensembles reflect NEC’s inclusive approach to music making, with ensembles focused on free jazz, early jazz, gospel music, Brazilian music, and songwriting, as well as more traditional approaches to jazz performance.

Students are encouraged to find their own musical voices while making connections and collaborating with a vibrant community of creative musicians, and ultimately to transform the world through the power of music. The program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers and has an alumni list that reads like a who's who of jazz, while the faculty has included six MacArthur “genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters.

About NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Program

NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation program addresses the unique needs of musicians seeking to move beyond traditional boundaries. The department brings together an extremely diverse group of the world’s finest young artists in a setting where they can truly grow as a community of composers, performers, and improvisers. With an emphasis on ear training, technique, conceptual ideas, interdisciplinary collaboration, and a wide range of improvisational traditions, the CI program is uniquely positioned to produce the complete 21st century global musician. Founded in 1972 by Gunther Schuller and Ran Blake, the department is “a thriving hub of musical exploration,” (Jeremy Goodwin, Boston Globe).

About New England Conservatory

New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized internationally as a leader among music schools, educating and training musicians of all ages from around the world for over 150 years. With 800 music students representing more than 40 countries in the College, and 2,000 youth and adults who study in the Preparatory and Continuing Education divisions, NEC cultivates a diverse, dynamic community for students, providing them with performance opportunities and high-caliber training with internationally-esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC’s alumni, faculty and students touch nearly every aspect of musical life in the region; NEC is a major engine of the vital activity that makes Boston a musical and cultural capital. With the recent appointment of Andrea Kalyn to serve as NEC’s 17th President, the Conservatory is poised to embark on a new chapter at the forefront of innovation in education and music.

This story appears courtesy of Braithwaite & Katz Communications.
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