New England Conservatory’s November Contemporary Musical Arts Programs to Celebrate 50th Anniversary

The New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Musical Arts (CMA) program marks five decades of crossing boundaries, pushing boundaries, and nurturing creative contemporary musicians and artists with a CMA Festival from Saturday, November 12 through Thursday, November 17 and a concert honoring the legacy of Gunther Schuller on Tuesday, November 22.

The festival, part of a year-long celebration featuring faculty, students and alumni in cutting-edge musical events, features bluegrass, African, Irish, classical, American, Middle- oriental, klezmer, folk, jazz, electronic, rock, film noir and beyond, just some of the many musical genres performed in the department that embraces cross-disciplinary collaboration. Festival events include a masterclass by renowned percussionist Jamey Haddad, the U.S. premiere of a film about CMA founding president Ran Blake, and CMA: Pushing the Limits, a concert showcasing breadth and depth musical works of the department and its composers, including music written on some of the most relevant issues of our time.

Events include:

Saturday November 12

Jamey Haddad Percussion Master Class and Performance
2-5 p.m. Salle Sinfonia, co-sponsored by the Percussion and CMA departments of NEC

Percussionist and former NEC faculty member Jamey Haddad, pianists Alain Mallet and Leo Blanco, and bassist Peter Slavov perform for the students and work with them to orchestrate a song. One of the world’s most gifted and imaginative percussionists, Haddad is sought after by leading musicians around the world because of his unparalleled musical taste and intuition. He brings his collaborative spirit to every project he works on with icons as diverse as Sting, Esperanza Spalding, Paul Simon, Nancy Wilson, Osvaldo Golijov, Dave Liebman, Simon Shaheen, Joe Lovano and countless others.

sunday november 13

Film Premiere and Book Release Honoring CMA Founding President Ran Blake
Eben Jordan Recital Hall

6:30 p.m. – Book release celebrating the publication of two books: “Storyboarding Noir,” co-written by Blake and writer and film-lover friend Gardiner Hartmann, and “Shimmering Shadows,” an in-depth biography of Blake written by Janet and Leo McFadden.

7 p.m., American premiere of the film by French filmmaker Antoine Polin, “Living With Imperfection”. The film profiles 84-year-old Blake from the perspective of his love for filmmaking, how it animated and nurtured his musical inspiration, and how he continues to develop his unique musical language.

Free and open to the public. For information visit Screening of a contemporary musical art film: “Living with imperfection: a portrait of Ran Blake” | New England Conservatory (

monday november 14

NEC Chamber Orchestra
7:30 p.m., Jordan Room

Donald Palma leads a program featuring “Chagall’s Mandolins” by AMC Co-Chair Hankus Netsky, with soloist G. Rockwell, winner of Nashville’s prestigious Freshgrass Festival Award. The 1998 work is inspired by four paintings by Chagall representing mandolinists he knew. Also on the program are the Four Dances of Transylvania by Sandor Veress and Apollon Musagète by Stravinsky.

Free, requires a ticket. For information visit NEC Chamber Orchestra: Veress, Netsky, Stravinsky | New England Conservatory (

tuesday november 15

CMA: Pushing the boundaries
7:30 p.m., Jordan Room

The composers/performers/improvisers of the NEC’s Faculty of Contemporary Musical Arts have taken the lead in today’s creative music scene. This concert features compositions addressing some of the most relevant issues of our time, including “Sister Cries Out”, an excerpt from “For Our Common Home”, Linda J. Chase’s recent one hundred minute oratorio on the climate crisis with Stan Strickland on saxophone and Carla Kihlstedt on vocals, “Shoym” (Froth) a meditation on the Parkland High School massacre, and “La Maria”, a performance by Lautaro Mantilla on the kidnappings and murders in Colombia. The world premiere of a new piece for solo violin ‘The Sway’, commissioned by Cambridge-born composer Gordon Beeferman, showcases the artistic virtuosity of CMA Co-Chair, Eden MacAdam-Somer.

The concert also features compositions by Carla Kihlstedt and Akram Haddad, new CMA faculty member and film and multimedia composer. The program highlights the unique creative heritage of NEC’s Department of Contemporary Musical Arts, including tributes to founding president Ran Blake, musical maverick Joe Maneri, singer and songwriter Dominique Eade, Nedelka Prescod, founding director of our African American Roots ensembles and sitar virtuoso and former NEC Provost, Peter Row, the only non-Indian artist to win the Pan-Indian Music Competition.

Free admission, tickets required. Live performance which will be recorded and broadcast internationally on December 12, 2022. For more information, visit Department of Contemporary Musical Arts: Pushing the Boundaries | New England Conservatory (

Wednesday 16 November – Round table “The educational legacy of Gunther Schuller”
6:15 p.m. Eben Jordan Hall Ensemble

CMA co-chair and NEC alumnus Hankus Netsky, NEC alumnus Susan Calkins, University of Alberta professor Michael Frischkopf, and NEC alumnus and director of the NEC Wind Ensemble Charles Peltz participate in a panel discussion on how Schuller’s enduring educational vision has made, and continues to make, NEC unique among music institutions around the world.

Thursday, November 17

CMA Small Ensembles

Eben Jordan Hall Ensemble

7:00 p.m. – Haddad Intro to World Music Ensemble
8 p.m. – Knowles Ceol Irish Music Ensemble
9 p.m. – Liszt Bluegrass Ensemble

tuesday november 22

Gunther Schuller Heritage Concert: founding family

7:30 p.m., Jordan Hall.

The annual Gunther Schuller Legacy Concert, produced in conjunction with the Gunther Schuller Society, honors the birthday of Schuller, born November 22, 1925. Schuller, the most transformative figure in NEC history, served as NEC President and was a visionary composer, conductor, author and renowned horn player.

This year’s theme is “Founding Family”, celebrating exceptional artists brought to the NEC to teach and perform. The program includes commentary from famous members of the founding family, including CMA professors Ran Blake and Hankus Netsky, as well as Carl Atkins, Frank L. Battisti, John Heiss and Laurence Lesser. Current student performances will include the CMA Department’s Bluegrass Ensemble led by Greg Liszt, presented by Netsky who will talk about Schuller’s connection to Americana.
Free admission, ticket required. The event will be in person and streamed live. For information visit Gunther Schuller Heritage Concert: Founding Family | New England Conservatory (

Following the November events, the CMA and Jazz departments of NEC are collaborating on a special concert on December 8 featuring the NEC Jazz Orchestra with special guest, former NEC Don Byron, as well as soloists from the CMA program.

Founded in 1972 by Gunther Schuller and Ran Blake, the NEC’s Contemporary Musical Arts program, originally called Third Stream, prepares musicians for today’s musical world. The department brings together a diverse group of the world’s best young artists in a setting where they can grow into a community of composers, performers and improvisers. This year, NEC changed the name to Contemporary Musical Arts to recognize the program’s breadth of training. With its emphasis on detailed listening and interpretation of diverse oral musical traditions, advanced auditory skills, conceptual ideas, and interdisciplinary collaboration, the CMA program is uniquely positioned to cultivate the complete global musician of the 21st century.

Alumni of the department, “a thriving hub of musical exploration” (Boston Globe), include Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz, composer and clarinetist Don Byron, pianist virtuoso and jam-band pioneer John Medeski, internationally acclaimed singer and educator Dominique Eade, klezmer clarinet virtuoso Michael Winograd, contemporary singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan and current co-chair Eden MacAdam-Somer , virtuoso violinist, singer, percussive dancer and scholar.