Walking through the halls of New England Conservatory (NEC), you feel the vibrations of practicing percussionists, hear someone muttering solfege, and see a student oscillating to the beat of an iPod. It’s easy to forget that these students ever reach outside of their musical enclave, but the best musicians, even at a conservatory, have interdisciplinary interests and knowledge. Music draws on many themes and emotions—from injustice to the afterlife—and students seek diverse life experiences to inform their performances. All musicians are shaped by the world around them, and the most successful artists actively engage with shifting, complex ideas to present them in a new way.
In Hear Here! we celebrate the outstanding work that NEC students have done to illuminate the thoughts, institutions, and narratives of our world. They find compositional threads in the 1891 story “The Yellow Wallpaper” or find unexpected connections between the Red Sox and the Boston Symphony. Sometimes the experiences they recount are unique to the arts, such as the nauseating hell known all too well by anyone about to audition. Other pieces grapple with larger cultural issues, such as an institutionalized tendency to judge emotiveness based on skin color. Within this volume, students have unraveled topics from sexuality to damnation and emerged with new approaches to share—and sometimes with new ways to share them. As they grow, transform, and inspire, NEC students are developing artistic conceptions that will shape our culture and planet for the next generation. We invite you to join in their adventures and see where their thoughts can take us.