Sophomore Year at NEC



Earlier this year, I decided to switch from coffee (double cream, double sugar, 3x/day) to green tea. It worked wonderfully as a caffeine substitute.I gouged down the magic elixir while walking in the morning to choir, before classes at noon, at six with dinner and 9pm when the solo study sessions were getting boring or right before I went for my “composition shift” from 10pm to midnight. Maybe a small cup before bed at 1 or 2 in the morning.

Thankfully I didn’t just spend time drinking tea and studying and composing. Some of this year’s highlights comprised of a performance of a  fully memorized first part to the Messiah with the Chamber Singers and the NEC Chamber Orchestra,opening the NEC 150th anniversary celebration season, seeing the Berlin Philarmoniker perform in Boston (life changing!) the launch of the NEC snapchat account, being a first time voter in the French elections and 13 new pieces. I switched studio teachers to a split-studio between Michael Gandolfi and Ken Schaphorst, head of composition studies and jazz studies respectively. Though different in character, they have been tremendously supportive of my projects, compositions, and have guided me with incredible patience. I also turned 20!


the Berliner Philarmoniker in Boston, Symphony Hall


with my teacher, Michael Gandolfi after the premiere of his "Ballet Ruse"


performing the first part to the Messiah


 at the NEC 150th anniversary, with Lake Street Dive and NEC musicians. my other teacher, Ken Schaphorst, is standing behind the them


with Rae Gallimore, after the Tuesday Night New Music premiere of "Willow" for viola and piano


The biggest project this semester was the launch of N.M.E. (pronounced Enemy), a new music ensemble some colleagues and I have been wanting to start. Students from NEC, Harvard, Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Juilliard came together are performed contemporary works by Louis Andriessen, Kati Agocs, Andy Akiho, Michel van der Aa and myself. The evening was a success, considering how difficult the months leading up to it were. Here are lessons and advices that came out of my experience:

 1. The role of a performer is to perform. The role of an administrator is to let the performer be the artist. As an administrator, you are not performing - your role is to give the best circumstances for the performers to prepare and excel at their craft.


2. Do not assume a role you cannot be accountable for - especially in admin. You have to do your work as efficiently as possible otherwise this will simply lead to disorganization, and delays, thus creating chaos for, and within, the ensemble.

Reed Puleo, one of our percussionists from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, instructs members of N.M.E. 


3. Attitude is everything. Be nice and respect others. A bad experience to a musician means they won’t want to play new music again, form a certain opinion of new music and/or will never work with you again.

Zlatomir Fung, first prize of the 2016 George Enescu Competition,performs Akiho's "Three Shades, Foresahdows"


4.There is no “leader”, only leading. Even if you do most of the work in the ensemble, you are not entitled to be the “owner” of a group. Let your work speak for you, and people will value you and follow your lead. Thirst for power can create hierarchy under which members will have a more or less important role. In a new music ensemble - everyone matters. If you claim a title or position but have not worked for it, you simply will not get it. 


5. Do it because you enjoy it - not because it makes you look smarter. This ties in a little bit to the previous point. I believe that if you are extremely good at something you really love doing, you will eventually gain notoriety. If your motive is to only for optics, you are not being sincere with your colleagues and to Art. 





Putting N.M.E. together was challenging, but necessary if one wishes to gain skills and experience in management and communication. Looking back on this year, and particularly this past semester, I realized I pushed myself too much. I have always been a workaholic. Since my pre-teens, I had to juggle a busy schedule between school, homework, judo and swim practice, rehearsals and multiple lessons. Though I quit sports, and my education has solely reduced itself to the study of music, my stress levels have gone off the charts,I realized I was pushing myself too far in trying to get everything perfect, and it has affected my health. 

For the first time in a while, I am welcoming summer with open arms and spending time with family, taking a break from work and relinquish to lazy summer days.


clockwise, starting upper left: Moira, Daniel, Isaac and I at the beginning of the year


sunset of Boston two days before the start of school


weekend in New Hampshire


before I left for the summer, I visited the Matisse exhibition at the MFA. Catch it before it ends if you're in Boston!