New England Conservatory will bestow honorary Doctor of Music (D.M.) degrees on one of its Life Trustees and two distinguished musicians at its 146th annual Commencement Exercises. The event will be held on Sunday, May 21, at 3:00pm, in NEC's Jordan Hall. The recipients are conductor, composer and pianist André Previn, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Hermeto Pascoal, and New England Conservatory Life Trustee Harold I. Pratt. André Previn will also give the 2017 Commencement address. Additional speakers include Interim President, Thomas Novak and NEC Board Chair, Ken Burnes.
André Previn is a prolific German-born American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor whose work leans towards the French, Russian, and English music of the 19th and 20th centuries, Previn's family fled Nazi persecution and moved to Los Angeles in 1939. While still a teenager he was recognized as a gifted jazz pianist. He later worked under contract with MGM in the 1950s as well as for various other studios, winning Academy Awards for his adapted scores of Broadway hit shows. Hollywood also commissioned one of his best-known original songs, "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls," a huge hit for Dionne Warwick.
Previn made his conducting debut with the St. Louis (Mo.) Symphony in 1963. After serving in turn as principal conductor of the Houston, London, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras, he worked as musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1985 to 1989. He was associated with the Royal Philharmonic (as musical director, 1985-88, and principal conductor, 1988-91) and in 1993 was named conductor laureate of the London Symphony.
He has composed in varied genres including: classical, jazz, film scoring, and popular music throughout his career. Heard first by Boston audiences were Boston Symphony Orchestra commissions, including Music for Boston (2012) and his Violin Concerto, Anne-Sophie (2001) dedicated to and premiered with Anne-Sophie Mutter. NEC co-commissioned and premiered Previn's Music for Wind Orchestra (No Strings Attached) in 2014. Other works include the opera A Streetcar Named Desire (1998; based on the play by Tennessee Williams); other theatrical music; songs based on texts ranging from Emily Dickinson to Toni Morrison; Symphony for Strings (1962) and concerti; and chamber music, including String Quartet with Soprano (2003), premiered by Barbara Bonney with the Emerson String Quartet.
His many Grammy Awards were in multiple categories: musical shows (1958 and 1959), pop (1959), jazz (1960 and 1961), and classical (several awards from 1973). In 1996, he was created a Knight of the British Empire, and in 1998 he received a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in music.
Even in the creative hothouse of Brazilian music, Hermeto Pascoal stands out as a particularly distinctive character. Affectionately known as "O Bruxo" (The Sorcerer), the ingenious composer and multi-instrumentalist has cultivated a dazzlingly rich musical universe that draws on folkloric styles like frevo, xaxado and forro, with elements of jazz, rock and other styles of music.
On stage, Pascoal cuts a fantastical figure, with his translucent albino skin and flowing white hair. Rushing from instrument to instrument, he creates intricate tapestries of sound that hold together with a powerful internal logic. A prodigy on flute and accordion, Hermeto started performing professionally before his teens, playing dances and festivals around his hometown of Arapiraca.
Harry Pratt is a New England Conservatory Life Trustee and has been a vital member of the NEC family for over three decades. Over the years, he has been a steadfast champion for the Conservatory, a tireless volunteer, and a generous donor. He began as an Overseer in 1991, became a Trustee in 1994, and a Life Trustee in 2012. During his time with NEC, Harry has served as both Secretary and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Development Committee, and Chair of the Annual Fund Committee. He served as Co-Chair of the Gift of Music Campaign and played an integral part in the building of the new SLPC as well as the revitalization of Jordan Hall in the 1990s. An avid fan of anything loud and involving brass, he has relentlessly advocated for NEC's Annual Fund throughout the years and is also a member of the Tourjee Society. He even threw an opening pitch for his beloved Red Sox as a representative of NEC.
Harry is Co-Founder and Senior Partner of Nichols & Pratt LLP, a Boston fiduciary firm. He has served on the board of numerous nonprofits including Mount Auburn Hospital, and of course his esteemed alma mater, Harvard, as well as the Groton School, where he prepared for Harvard. In addition, he served as Chair of the 150th birthday celebrations for The Union Club in Boston, a locale where he annually hosts an event designed to introduce club members to NEC.
The graduation ceremony is free and open to the public. Approximately 275 students are graduating in the class of 2017. They will be awarded a variety of degrees and diplomas including the: Undergraduate Diploma, Bachelor of Music, Graduate Diploma, Master of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts, and Artist Diploma.
A cultural icon currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized worldwide as a leader among music schools. Founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjée, an American music educator, choral conductor and organist, NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the United States. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, NEC offers rigorous education in an intimate, nurturing community to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate music students from around the world. Highly regarded for its innovative practices, NEC's out-of-the-box curriculum yields an expansive range of styles and traditions. NEC's faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. Alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. A founding relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and over 100 other community partnerships helps place NEC at the center of musical life in Boston. Annually, over 1000 concerts, many performed in NEC's renowned Jordan Hall are available to Boston's music lovers for free.
On the college level, NEC features training in classical, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Graduate and post-graduate programs supplement these core disciplines with orchestral conducting and professional chamber music training. Additionally, programs like Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Community Performances & Partnerships integrate professional and personal skills development into the musical training of students to better develop the knowledge needed to create one's own musical opportunities, and interact successfully with diverse audiences. Through its Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education, the Conservatory provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, and adults. Currently more than 750 young artists from 46 states and 39 foreign countries attend NEC on the college level; 1,600 young students attend on the Preparatory level; and 300 adults participate in the Continuing Education program.