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NEC Bestows Honorary Degree on Violinist Leonidas Kavakos during his Masterclass Visit on November 18, 2013

Leonidas Kavakos
New England Conservatory

Pianist/Conductor Returned to Conservatory to Work with Students During Boston Symphony Orchestra Engagement as Soloist and Conductor

Leonidas Kavakos, the internationally acclaimed and critically admired violinist and conductor, returned to NEC November 18 to conduct a masterclass with Conservatory violinists and to receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree. President Tony Woodcock conferred the degree on Kavakos during his appearance, which took place at 4:00 pm in Brown Hall. The masterclass was made possible by the Richard P. and Claire W. Morse Visiting Artist Fund. Kavakos’ visit coincided with his engagement with the Boston Symphony Orchestra during which he conducted the orchestra and performed as soloist in the Mozart Violin Concerto in D-major, K.218.

Kavakos last masterclass appearance at NEC took place in November 2008.

Leonidas Kavakos, 46, is recognized across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuosity, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing. Born in Athens into a musical family, Kavakos’s first steps as a violinist were guided by his parents. He studied at the Hellenic Conservatory with Stelios Kafantaris, who was one of the three important mentors in his life, together with Josef Gingold and Ferenc Rados.

He broke on to the international music scene when he won three major violin competitions before he was 21. In 1985, he won the Sibelius Competition and he subsequently was awarded first prize in the Paganini and Naumburg competitions, in 1988. These successes led to two momentous occasions in Kavakos’s life: recording, for the first time in history, the original version of the Sibelius concerto (1903/4), which was recognised with a Gramophone Award; and the honour of performing on the famous "Il Cannone" Guarneri del Gesù, which belonged to Paganini.

Kavakos’s international career has allowed him to develop close relationships with the world’s major orchestras and conductors, such as the Berliner Philharmoniker/Rattle, Royal Concertgebouw/Jansons, LSO/Gergiev and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Chailly. In the US, he performs regularly with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra and LA Philharmonic.

Kavakos has always retained strong links with his native country. For 15 years he curated a chamber music cycle at the Megaron Concert Hall which featured his musical friends, including Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Emanuel Ax, Nikolai Lugansky, Yuja Wang and Gautier Capuçon.

In conjunction with his career as a soloist, Kavakos has expanded and diversified his musical horizons by developing a conducting career. He has conducted orchestras including the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, DSO Berlin, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Stockholm Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the US, he has conducted the Boston, Atlanta and St Louis symphony orchestras.

For further information, visit the NEC Website at or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122.

A cultural icon approaching its 150th anniversary in 2017, New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized worldwide as a leader among music schools. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, on the Avenue of the Arts in the Fenway Cultural District, NEC offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC-trained musicians and faculty. NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the United States. Founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee, an American music educator, choral conductor and organist, its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. 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. Additional programs, such as the Sistema Fellows, a professional training program for top postgraduate musicians and music educators that creates careers connected to music, youth, and social change, and Entrepreneurial Musicianship, a cutting-edge program integrating professional and personal skills development into the musical training of students to better develop the skills and knowledge needed to create one’s own musical opportunities, also enhance the NEC experience.

Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, the Conservatory provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, and adults. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Currently more than 750 young artists from 46 states and 39 foreign countries attend NEC on the college level; 1,400 young students attend on the Preparatory level; and 325 adults participate in the Continuing Education program.

The only conservatory in the United States designated a National Historic Landmark, NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year. Many of these take place in Jordan Hall (which shares National Historic Landmark status with the school), world-renowned for its superb acoustics and beautifully restored interior. In addition to Jordan Hall, more than a dozen performance spaces of various sizes and configurations are utilized to meet the requirements of the unique range of music performed at NEC, from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to big band jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Center in Boston, and a semi-staged performance in Jordan Hall. This past 2012-2013 season, the operas produced were Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and Rossini’s La Gazzetta.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.