NEC Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, & Symphonic Choir: Bernstein, Mancini, Gulda, Stravinsky & Brubeck

NEC: Jordan Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

The NEC Wind Ensemble concludes its 2021–22 season with 50th anniversary presents—a masterwork of the past and one destined to be so in the future. In 1930, the Boston Symphony celebrated its 50th anniversary by commissioning Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, a moving and powerful tour de force of choral and instrumental writing. It was the high point of Stravinsky’s neoclassical period and of which he said: “it is not a symphony in which I have included Psalms to be sung. On the contrary, it is the singing of the Psalms that I am symphonizing.” In 2020 the NECWE celebrated its 50th anniversary and COVID postponed the premiere of its celebratory piece. Commissioned to honor the occasion was Jazz master Chris Brubeck (son of jazz legend David) who has written for major orchestras and ensembles internationally and was delighted to write his first wind ensemble piece. Entitled Fifty, it is “very NEC”—a vibrant wedding of jazz and classical styles—a fitting present for an NEC 50th.  NEC's Symphonic Winds brings several gifts of its own to the evening: arrangements of Henry Mancini and Leonard Bernstein. and a cello concerto featuring Kenny Lee '14 MM, '15 GD, '19 DMA.

This performance is open to in-person audiences, and is also viewable via livestream.

Watch livestream from Jordan Hall

  • NEC Wind Ensemble
  • NEC Symphonic Choir
  • NEC Symphonic Winds
  1. Leonard Bernstein (arr. Dave Rivello) | Some Other Time, from On the Town

    • Ryan Devlin, tenor saxophone soloist (NEC jazz student)
    • George Behrakis and Domenico Botelho, piano soloists (NEC jazz students)
    • Taehyun Kim, drum soloist (NEC jazz student)
  2. Henry Mancini (arr. Dave Rivello) | Dreamsville

    • Ryan Devlin, tenor saxophone soloist (NEC jazz student)
    • Eli Canales, trombone soloist
    • George Behrakis and Domenico Botelho, piano soloists (NEC jazz students)
    • Taehyun Kim, drum soloist (NEC jazz student)
  3. Friedrich Gulda | from Konzert für Violoncello und Blasorchester (1980)

    I. Ouverture
    II. Idylle
    IV. Menuetto
    V. Finale: Alla Marcia


    Kenny Lee

    Cellist and conductor Kenny Lee has been praised for his “lyricism, drive, tenderness, and passion” (The Times Argus). He has concertized throughout North America, Europe, and Asia as a recitalist and a chamber musician. He has won top prizes at the New York International Artists Competition, Hudson Valley String Competition, Borromeo Guest Artist Competition, Eastman Concerto Competition, and New England Conservatory Honors Chamber Music Competition as the founding member of the Gioviale Quartet. He has given solo and chamber recitals in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, and Eastman Kodak Hall. Mr. Lee has appeared as a concerto soloist with several conductors, including with Giancarlo Guerrero, Neil Varon, and William Drury. 
            As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with the members of the Juilliard, Cleveland, Borromeo, and Ying Quartets, and principal players of the Berlin Philharmonic. Festival appearances have included Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Thy Chamber Music Festival in Denmark, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Taos Chamber Music Festival, and Piatigorsky International Cello Festival. He is also the co-founder and artistic director of the
    Flatirons Chamber Music Festival in Boulder, Colorado.

            As a conductor, he has won first prize at the seventeenth International Conductors Workshop and Competition. He has recently worked with Western Illinois University Symphony Orchestra, Lviv Philharmonic, Midcoast Symphony Orchestra, Exeter Symphonia, Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra, and Orlando Philharmonic. 
            Mr. Lee’s mentors have included Laurence Lesser, Paul Katz, Steven Doane, Steven Pologe, Hans Jørgen Jensen, Charles Peltz, and William Drury. He has also worked privately with Pieter Wispelwey, Lluis Claret, Ralph Kirshbaum, Frans Helmerson, and Gary Hoffman. He holds a bachelor's degree from the Eastman School of Music with the prestigious Celentano Award in Excellence in Chamber Music and master’s and Doctoral degrees, with honors, from New England Conservatory.
            Mr. Lee is a dedicated educator and currently serves as the cello professor and director of orchestral activities at Western Illinois University. He has held teaching positions at Stetson University, Phillips Exeter Academy, and has given masterclasses at Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Keene State College. His former students have been accepted to the Manhattan School of Music, Harvard University, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute, and Peabody Conservatory.


    NEC Symphonic Winds

    Isabel Evernham
    Honor Hickman
    Yechan Min

    Yuhsi Chang
    Corinne Foley
    Coleton Morgan

    Tristan Broadfoot
    Sarah Cho
    Xianyi Ji
    Tao Ke

    Bass Clarinet
    Nikita Manin

    Evan Judson

    French horn
    Mattias Bengtsson
    Huimin Mandy Liu
    Tess Reagan
    Jenna Stokes
    Xiaoran Xu

    Michael Harms
    Sarah Heimberg
    Matthew Mihalko

    Justin Park
    Cody York

    Elias Canales
    Lukas Helsel
    Noah Korenfeld
    Noah Nichilo

    James Curto
    Hayden Silvester

    Mark Larrivee
    Parker Olson
    Rohan Zakharia

    Shaylen Joos

    Thatcher Harrison

    Double Bass
    Benjamin Friedland

    • Kenny Lee '14 MM, '15 GD, '19 DMA, cello
  4. Igor Stravinsky | Symphony of Psalms (1930)

    I. Psalm 38: 13-14
    II. Psalm 39: 2-4
    III. Psalm 150


    Program note

    John Heiss is NEC’s Stravinsky, Ives and Schoenberg expert.  He has a musicologist’s sense of context and history, a composer’s sense of craft and a performer’s sense of what makes the piece “tick”.  We have called on him these past few weeks—as NEC always does—to contribute invaluably to the rehearsal process.  We thank him so very much. 

    These are notes he provides for this program:

    In a long career of notable surprises and successes, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (1930) stands out as both unexpected and uniquely eloquent.  Commissioned by the Boston Symphony to recognize the 50th year of its existence, the request encouraged Stravinsky to try to write “something popular.”  The composer responded by writing (as he said) something capable of broad human understanding!
            He set excerpts from a trio of exquisite psalms (Nos. 38, 39, 150) for his three interconnected movements, using Latin for its ancient tone-of-voice, as outlined here.
                “Hear my prayer” / Exaudi orationem meam — anguished
                “Hopeful, I waited for the Lord” / Expectans expectavi Dominum — waiting
                “Alleluia. Laudate Dominum.” / Hallelujah. Praise God — hushed joy

            When his musical aide, Robert Craft, later asked Stravinsky how was it that the music of the three movements held together so well, Stravinsky provided this extraordinary sketch of the key relationships.
                                                         (I. E to G     II. C to E-flat   III. C/E natural)
            Stravinsky wanted the chorus and orchestra to be equal partners.  The marvelous “sound” of the overall ensemble arises from a unique orchestration of multiple winds, normal brass, cellos, basses, two pianos, harp, and percussion – whereas there are no violins, violas or clarinets whatever, clearing the air for the chorus to prevail.

            The first movement, introductory and rather brief, begins in E minor only to shift quickly to G major as a dominant preparation for movement II, which begins in C minor as a formal fugue (flutes and oboes patiently waiting).  This leads to a haunting modulation by flutes alone into E-flat minor, the key of the surprising choral entry using its own fugal subject, producing a double fugue!  The contrasting instrumental and vocal subjects, different as they are, mesh perfectly like gloves on a hand.  This movement ends ambiguously, in dual tonalities of F minor and E-flat major.  The third movement, by far the broadest, cross-cuts between several contrasting tempos and tonalities over a much wider stretch of time, so as to culminate with a pianissimo “Alleluia” and “Laudate Dominum.”
            The work enjoyed a fine premiere and has been a continuing presence in our lives.  I played it in the BSO flute section several times and had the great joy of hearing Stravinsky conduct it in New York (summer, 1966), in his final public appearance as a conductor.  It is wondrously lyric, spiritually true, energetic and, at the end, transcendentally serene in a long coda.
            Stravinsky has ended many pieces this way—he characterizes such conclusions as apotheoses (being at one with God).  The concluding chord is often C major.  Here, in the Symphony of Psalms, it is voiced with six octaves of C and a single high E on the
    final word:  DO – MI – NUM

                                     (C)    (E)    (mmm)

    Truly a heavenly ending!                                                                                     
    – John Heiss



    Exaudi orationem meam, Domine,
    Et deprecationem meam.
    Auribus percipe lacrimas meas;
    Ne sileas.
    Quoniam advena ego sum
    apud te et peregrinus,
    sicut omnes patres mei.
    Remitte mihi, ut refrigerer
    Prius quam abeam et amplius non ero.

    Psalm 38, vs. 13-14

    Expectans expectavi Dominum
    et intendit mihi,
    Et exaudivit preces meas;
    et eduxit me de lacu miseriae,

    et de luto faecis.
    Et statuit super petram pedes meos:
    et direxit gressus meos.
    Et immisit in os meum
    canticum novum, carmen Deo nostro.
    Videbunt multi et timebunt:
    et sperabunt in Domino.

    Psalm 39, vs. 2-4

    Laudate Dominum in sanctis Ejus.
    Laudate Eum in firmamento virtutis Ejus.
    Laudate Eum secundum multitudinem magnitudinis.
    Laudate Eum in sono tubae.
    Laudate Eum in timpano et choro,
    Laudate Eum in cordis et organo;
    Laudate Eum in cymbalis benesonantibus.
    Laudate Eum in cymbalis jubilationibus.
    Omnis spiritus laudet Dominum.
    Alleluia, laudate Dominum.

    Psalm 150

    Hear my prayer, O Lord,
    and listen to my entreaty.
    Listen to my tears
    and be not silent.
    For I am a stranger
    before thee and a wanderer,
    as were all my fathers before me.
    Spare me, that I may recover
    before I depart and am no more.


    Hopeful I waited for the Lord
    and he inclined to me,
    and he heard my prayers;
    and he drew me out of the pit of misery
    and from the miry clay.

    And he set my feet upon a rock:
    and directed my way.
    And he put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn to our God.
    Many shall see it and fear:

    and they shall trust in the Lord.

    Praise the Lord in His holy place.
    Praise Him in the firmament of His power.
    Praise Him for His excellent
    Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet.
    Praise Him with the tambourine and the dance,
    Praise Him with strings and organ;
    Praise Him with the true ringing cymbals.
    Praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.
    Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.

    Alleluia, praise the Lord.


    NEC Symphonic Choir

    Oluwanimofe Akinyanmi
    Aislin Alancheril
    Isaac Berglind
    Brittany Bryant
    Hongbo Cai
    Chen Chen
    Jing Chen
    Garrett Comrie
    Su Cong
    Despina Dassouras
    Andrew Minoo Dixon
    Sophia Grace Donelan
    Yuxin Duan
    Yan Fang
    Runyu Feng
    Edward Ferran
    Jaden Fogel
    Rachel Fredette
    Abisal Gergiev
    Dermot Gleeson
    Jiawei Gong
    Killian Grider
    Rachel Gu
    Siyuan Amelia Guan
    Changjin Ha
    Yujin Han
    Cameron Hayden
    Jinyu He
    Blake Hetherington
    Weza Jamison-Neto
    Owen Johnson
    Jonah Kernis
    Dohyun Kim
    Loren Kim
    Jordan Chun Kwan Lau
    Che Li
    Mengyuan Li
    Pengyi Li
    Qianqian Li
    Ssu-Hsuan Sandy Li
    Yuhang Li
    Yunqi Li
    Shawn Xiangyun Lian
    Yen Yu Tiffany Lin
    Jonas Shaocheng Man
    Sally Millar
    Colin Miller
    Hannah Miller
    Yechan Min
    Sianna Monti
    Tristan Murphy
    Qiu Qiu
    Xiaoyu Frank Sang
    Emma Schoetz
    Jonathan Senik
    Xingrong Shao
    Hanwen Shi
    Jiaruo Aria Shi
    Yide Shi
    Tamir Shimshoni
    Anisha Srinivasan
    Claire Stephenson

    Wanrou Tang
    Ke Xin Tian

    Sophia Tseng

    Alexander Tsereteli
    Joseph Vasconi

    Qizhen Steven Wang
    Ranfei Wang
    Tianyou Wang
    Yinuo Wang
    Xiaoye Wei
    Shan Shan Xie
    Yuki Yoshimi
    Grace Yu
    Sean Yu
    Jessica Yuma

    Yukun Zhang
    Zhaoqian Ellie Zhong
    Ling Zhou
    ZhuoYa Zhu


    NEC Wind Ensemble

    Erika Rohrberg
    Javier Castro
    Clara Lee
    Nnamdi Odita-Honnah
    Dianna Seo


    Kip Zimmerman
    So Jeong Kim
    Nathalie Vela
    Izumi Amemiya

    Samuel Rockwood

    Miranda Macias
    Delano Bell

    Daniel McCarty
    Andrew Flurer

    French horn

    Helen Wargelin
    Karlee Kamminga
    Paolo Rosselli
    Xiang Li


    Charlie Jones
    Wentao Xiao

    Kimberly Sabio
    Alexander Prokop

    Dimitri Raimonde

    Jianlin Sha
    Puyuan Chen

    Bass Trombone
    Roger Dahlin

    David Stein

    David Uhlmann
    Yiming Yao

    Hannah Cope Johnson

    Aixin Vicky Cheng
    Trés Foster
    Uijin Gwak
    Jeffrey Ho
    Eugene Kim
    Youjin Ko
    Cheyoon Lee
    Eva Ropero

    Double Bass
    Christopher Laven
    Diego Martinez
    Minyi Wang
    Yihan Wu


    Sunmin Kim
    Tracy Tang


    • NEC Symphonic Choir
    • NEC Wind Ensemble
  5. Chris Brubeck | Fifty (2020)

    World premiere

    Commissioned by New England Conservatory in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Wind Ensemble and dedicated to its conductor Charles Peltz

    Program note

    When I was planning the anniversary year—2019–20—with Bill Drury and then acting President Tom Novak, we knew that the cornerstone of that celebration would be a premiere of an important new work.  Commissioning and premiering new music have been foundational to the NEC Wind Ensemble, and composers from Colgrass to Rands, Schuller to Tippet, had their voices heard through the NECWE commissioning legacy. 

    Who to commission for this milestone?  Should it be someone from the classical world as had been done before? 

    Or should we look at this as a chance to celebrate the wind ensemble, one of the premier ensembles of its kind, as part of the NEC vision of a wide musical world? That seemed the right thing. How exactly does one celebrate NEC? Maybe through the something created here – the idea of “third stream” music.  Schuller coined the phrase as the confluence of classical and jazz composition, but he later disowned the term as having been used to describe works with facile layering - ‘jazz works with strings” or classical works with raucous saxophones and “swinging” syncopations.  

    To create a truly third-stream work required someone with a mind and proven pen for classical devices but with a genuine heart and ear for jazz.  That cuts the list down considerably.  One name rises up—Christopher Brubeck—a composer who has established himself as someone with a sophisticated style, a sure hand at orchestration and the ability to write, to explore, with confidence.   Chris has threaded the third-stream needle so finely.  The fugue, the ubiquitous other counterpoint, the sense of architecture all bows to the classical tradition, while the extended harmonies, the jazz gestures and the improvisatory middle are children of jazz parents.  

    We could not have chosen a more fitting person to create a celebration of the NECWE 50th.                                             
    – Charles Peltz

    From its incisive opening thunder, Fifty establishes its self-assurance.  Over its seventeen minutes, it dances along the musical highway with feet on either side of the center line. Scored for the orchestral wind section in threes, but including rhythm section and jazz improvisers, it synthesizes the best of the classical and jazz traditions.  Fifty is set in ten sections organically connected either by the smoothest transitions or powerful gear shifting. If not truly a palindrome, it unfolds in an architecture of ABCDBA. A’s and B’s return show their organic growth: mature simplicity in the case of B and increased fire in the case of A.   Its overriding organic device is its use of meters “in 5” found in sections from the coolest to the hottest.  Coming from a Brubeck, that five-ness is in the DNA, but its adroit employment here is no familial cliché, it is fresh and innovative.
            In the first section we are introduced to the interval set of a fourth and third and a second. This set begets the rest of the pitches, as if a set of variations on the interval “theme”.  Each section has its own personality: from the fire of the opening to the “west coast cool” of the main theme, to that extended fugue (!) complete with 16-foot cantus firmus at its close, to the improvised choruses, to the carousel waltzes, to the return of a more contemplative west coast, and fiery finale.  
            What makes Fifty so remarkable is the harmonic language—it is the language of jazz, flavored with 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths, flatted this and sharp that.  It is a rainbow of harmony, shifting from floating gentleness to spicily bold.
            NEC patron saint Gunther Schuller admitted that discovering a true third stream required a diviner’s fork of inspiration. How appropriate Chris Brubeck discovered it at NEC in his Fifty.

    From the composer:

    “I was honored to have been asked by Charles Peltz to compose this piece for the formidable New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble. The title, “Fifty,” is in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the NECWE.  The number “5” saturated my brain as I contemplated how to approach composing this work. The “fiveness” of things led me to writing something in the time signature of 5/8. The meters, 5/8 and 5/4 are deep in my musical blood after having spent decades performing as bass player and trombonist with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. For my personal tastes, 5/8 possesses some built in “action” and moves forward with its own swagger and swing, which is also the kind of thing that the New England Conservatory has been doing for decades going back to its Gunther Schuller roots. He envisioned a place where jazz and classical influences could swim in the third stream together.  To further tie the magic number 5 together, imagine my surprise when a couple years after my father, Dave Brubeck, passed on, I got a call from the legendary Gunther Schuller. He remembered a Sanders Theater concert with my father improvising over his signature tune, Take Five, and Schuller was so taken by it that he wanted to track down this performance, study it, and use it as the basis for a new piece he intended to write inspired by my father’s improvisation. Gunther Schuller called it From Here to There, and Charles Peltz conducted the premiere. I have the same good fortune, as Maestro Peltz will be leading the forces when my piece makes its debut. 

    “The timpani kicks off the proceedings, and you can hear the brass play the figure that sounds like the rhythm of the words “Fif-ty” “Fif-ty,” “Fif-ty!” This little rhythmic cell keeps popping up in the piece. After the intro the ensemble eventually gets into a lilting 5/8 samba-like groove with layers of counterpoint weaving through the texture. Eventually this music dissolves into a floating chorale with jazzy voicings played by the woodwinds. A new 8 bar theme is established in 4/4, and a fugato section unfolds. The brass rips off the straight-jacket after 56 bars and gets playful with quick little dance-like moves in 3/8 and 7/8.  There is a section that sounds like a real funky calliope, syncopated and kicking off of a basic 3/4-time signature. Eventually, everything falls into a 4/4 groove with a Latin feel. This becomes the bed for soloists with improvisational skills to play over with spontaneity and freedom. The jazz solos bring things to boil and then the brass explodes, flies over the landscape, and lands on a merry-go-round for a short ride. A bass clarinet solo signals that the fantasy ride is winding down to an end. 

    To wrap up the work there is some compressed recapitulations of the opening themes which are presented in half time and reharmonized, reappearing in towering, stacked monolithic chords.  For symmetry the opening timpani lick, in 5/8, kicks the ensemble into the end zone. I know this music will be challenging for these young musicians, but I have every confidence that these exceptional players have the skills and leadership to play an exciting performance.”


    NEC Wind Ensemble

    Hui Lam Mak
    Zoe Cagan
    Anna Kevelson

    Ryoei Leo Kawai
    Nathalie Vela
    Samuel Rockwood

    Tyler J. Bourque
    Ching-Wen Chen
    Soyeon Park

    Erica Smith
    Benjamin Cruz

    Andrew Brooks
    Richard Vculek
    Andrew Flurer

    Rayna DeYoung
    Alexis Aguilar
    *Samuel Childs
    *Nicholas Biagini

    French horn
    Andrew Hayes
    Tasha Schapiro
    Hannah Messenger

    Sophie Steger

    Charlie Jones
    Jake Baldwin
    David O’Neill
    *Daniel Hirsch

    Zach Johnson
    *Michael Gerace

    Bass Trombone
    Changwon Park

    Jack Earnhart

    David Stein

    Stephanie Nozomi Krichena

    Ross Hussong
    Taylor Lents

    Tennison Watts

    Double Bass
    Leo WeisskofF

    *Keegan Marshall-House

    * student, NEC Jazz Department