50 American Jews who had the greatest impact in 2013

Netsky, Chair of NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation Department, cited for being a
“mentor (to) generations of Jewish musicians” and “a quiet but powerful force affecting nearly every corner of contemporary Jewish music.”


Hankus Netsky, chair of New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation program, has been selected for The Forward 50, 50 American Jews who’ve had the greatest impact on the world in 2013. The list is chosen by the editorial staff of The Forward, a highly respected weekly newspaper that covers the Jewish world.

Others on the list include Janet Yellen, Philip Roth, Harvey Fierstein, Mandy Patinkin, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin, plus Pope Francis and Angelina Jolie.

Netsky is cited for his work as the mastermind behind renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman and acclaimed cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot’s “Eternal Echoes” project, and as its musical director. As The Forward says: “Netsky, 58, has been a quiet but powerful force affecting nearly every corner of contemporary Jewish music.”

The Forward also heralds Netsky’s role as founder of the Klezmer Conservatory Band where he “takes pride of place among the first generation of klezmer revivalists, who brought the genre back to the forefront of Jewish cultural consciousness,” for his work as a composer and musician in film, radio and musical scores, for expanding the audience for cantorial music, and for his role as a researcher and ethnomusicologist. “Netsky has written widely on music history, and as an avowed improvisational musician, he has helped push Jewish music into the future.”

His work at NEC is cited as a key reason for his inclusion on the list. “Perhaps most importantly, Netsky’s position as chair of the contemporary improvisation department at the New England Conservatory of Music has allowed him to mentor generations of Jewish musicians, who often attend the school specifically to study with him,” says The Forward. “The large number of young jazz and classical instrumentalists who have devoted their talents to innovating Jewish repertoire over the past few decades is a testament to Netsky’s influence… His name might not be in lights, but that doesn’t mean his music isn’t heard.”

The Forward is highly respected in American journalism and a revered institution in American Jewish life. Launched as a Yiddish-language daily newspaper on April 22, 1897, The Forward is an independent, high-profile weekly newspaper committed to covering the Jewish world. The “Forward 50,” published annually since 1994, is a list of Jewish-Americans “who have made a significant impact on the Jewish story in the past year.” For more information on The Forward 50, 2013, go to: http://forward.com/specials/forward-50-2013/hankus-netsky/

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, along with Assistant-Chair Eden MacAdam-Somer. 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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