New England Conservatory faculty have always enjoyed playing chamber music together, but in 1985 cellist Laurence Lesser transformed these occasional musical evenings into a stellar, regularly occurring series. At the time he initiated the series, Lesser was president of NEC. He currently occupies NEC's Walter W. Naumburg Chair in Music and continues to curate the concerts.
Over the past 27 years, Boston-area chamber music buffs have come to look forward to these six free concerts held on the first Mondays of October, November, December, March, April, and May. They know they can count on hearing fascinating repertoire in one of the great halls of the world. And they know they can expect illuminating performances by some of the world's greatest artists—NEC faculty, alumni, students and friends, who donate their services in exchange for the opportunity to experience together music that is among the most transcendent expressions of human culture.
Concert dates are in, program information will become available over the course of the year. For the most up-to-date information on NEC's First Monday concerts, bookmark this page, signup for NEC e-mail news, or follow us at twitter.com/NEC_concerts.
What's a folk song doing in a nice chamber music concert like this? Plenty. This season, every concert explores threads of local color in the intimate genre of chamber music.
2012-10-01 C.P.E. and J.S. Bach, Debussy, Weber
2012-11-05 Brahms, Debussy, Villa-Lobos
2012-12-03 Bartók, Franck, Leclair
2013-03-04 Bartók, Dvorák, Mozart
2013-04-01 Beethoven, Smetana
2013-05-06 Beethoven, Janácek
NEC's archive of recordings of First Monday concerts is a treasure trove of irreplaceable moments of music making.
Two examples give evidence of Lesser's programming sweep. A recently uncovered 1990 video reveals a performance of the Brahms Quintet with violinists James Buswell and Marylou Speaker Churchill, violist Walter Trampler, pianist Russell Sherman, and Lesser himself. No one else holds the cards to deal this particular royal flush. A 1997 performance of Crumb's Voice of the Whale engulfed Jordan Hall in blue light, and put flutist Renée Krimsier, cellist Yeesun Kim, and pianist Donald Berman on electronically amplified and manipulated instruments.
In photo: detail from 1990 First Monday video with Russell Sherman at piano, Marylou Speaker Churchill and James Buswell on violin