Join two exceptional NEC student ensembles – the NEC Gospel Ensemble and the NEC Jazz Composer’s Ensemble – as they perform contemporary gospel music and student compositions, plus works by Thelonious Monk and Wayne Shorter on Thursday, April 10 at 8 p.m. in NEC’s Brown Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, log on to or call 617-585-1122.

Directed by faculty member Nedelka Prescod, the NEC Gospel Ensemble explores contemporary gospel music with some of the area’s best student performers: vocalists Sami Stevens, Farayi Malek, Corinne Marina, Alexandra Keller, Robbie Pate, Michael Mayo, and Sam Jones,
as well as trumpeter
Josh Gilbert, tenor saxophonist
Kaz George, trombonist John Cushing, pianist
Chris McCarthy, organist Joseph Copeland, guitarist
Jeremy Marx, bassist
Neil Patton, and drummer
Ryan Sands. Watch a video of the ensemble here:

Directed by NEC Jazz Studies Chair Ken Schaphorst, students in the NEC Jazz Composers Ensemble perform their own compositions and arrangements. Performers include Aaron DuBenion, trumpet;
Sarah Hughes, alto saxophone;
Kaz George, tenor saxophone;
Philip Golub, piano;
Vaughn Stoffey, guitar;
Andrew Schiller, bass; and Ryan Sands, drums. They’ll perform Philip Golub’s Dream Philip, The Setup;
Kaz George Level One, Rubato Tune;
Thelonious Monk’s Boo Boo’s Birthday;
Peter Jonatan’s Jazz Line; and
Wayne Shorter’s The Big Push.

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.

Founded in 1972 by musical visionaries Gunther Schuller and Ran Blake, New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation program is “one of the most versatile in all of music education” (JazzEd). Now in its 41st year, the program trains composer/performer/ improvisers to broaden their musical palettes and develop unique voices. It is unparalleled in its structured approach to ear training and its emphasis on singing, memorization, harmonic sophistication, aesthetic integrity, and stylistic openness. Under Blake’s guidance for its first twenty-six years, the program expanded its offerings under subsequent chair Allan Chase and current chair Hankus Netsky. Alumni include Don Byron, John Medeski, Jacqueline Schwab, Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz; faculty include Carla Kihlstedt, Blake, Dominique Eade, and Anthony Coleman. “A thriving hub of musical exploration,” (Jeremy Goodwin, Boston Globe), the program currently has 43 undergrad and graduate students from 14 countries.

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