Friday, October 12, 2012

NEC Faculty Member Ran Blake To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award!

Longtime NEC Faculty Member Ran Blake To Receive
Lifetime Achievement Award During Tribute on Saturday, October 27
Blake, a MacArthur Fellow, was Founding Chair of NEC's Groundbreaking
Contemporary Improvisation Department, Which Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
Longtime New England Conservatory faculty member, pianist/composer Ran Blake, who was founding chair of NEC's Contemporary Improvisation department 40 years ago, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award during a tribute on Saturday, October 27 at 10 a.m. in NEC's Williams Hall, 30
Gainsborough Street, Boston.

Former WGBH radio announcer Steve Schwartz will lead a conversation with Blake on his life in music. The presentation will also include video from two 1991 films-the French television documentary Ricky Ford Encore! featuring Ricky Ford '83, and Streaming by Christine Sandvik-as well as musical tributes by David "Knife" Fabris '90, Daryl Lowery '81, Vanessa Morris '96 G.D., Hankus Netsky, Eleni Odoni, Scott Sandvik '87, '89 M.M., and Sara Serpa '08 M.M. 

Two days after this presentation, Blake's passion for film noir will be on display in the CI department's annual film-based concert, this year dedicated to the work of film actor Marlon Brando: Brando Noir.

In a career that's spanned nearly six decades, pianist Ran Blake has created a unique niche in improvised music as an artist and educator. With a characteristic mix of spontaneous solos, modern classical tonalities, the great American blues and gospel traditions, and themes from classic Film Noir, Blake's singular sound has earned a dedicated following all over the world. His dual musical legacy includes more than 40 albums on some of the world's finest jazz labels, as well 40 years as a groundbreaking educator at Boston's New England Conservatory.

Blake's teaching approach emphasizes what he calls "the primacy of the ear," as he believes music is traditionally taught by the wrong sense. His innovative ear and style development process elevates the listening process to the same status as the written score. This approach compliments the stylistic synthesis of the original Third Stream concept, while also providing an open, broad based learning environment that promotes the development of innovation and individuality. Musicians of note who studied with Blake at NEC include Don Byron, Matthew Shipp, and John Medeski.

Full bio at

This event is part of the yearlong 40th anniversary celebration for New England Conservatory's groundbreaking Contemporary Improvisation department in Boston and New York City.  Featuring many of NEC's distinguished alumni, faculty and students, and special guests, the Boston festivities include performances by Randy Weston, Carla Kihlstedt, Gunther Schuller, Anthony Coleman, Peter Row, Judy Bressler, Bert Seager, Linda Chase (with renowned poet Jane Hirshfield), The Sail Away Ladies (featuring Sarah Jarosz, Eden MacAdam-Somer and the Friedman Sisters), Dominique Eade, Manga Rosa, The Sol Y Canto Trio, Juanito Pascual, Lissa Schneckenburger, Dave Fiuscynski, CB Calloway Brooks, Ken Schaphorst, current department chair Hankus Netsky, founding department chair Ran Blake, and much more. New York events in March 2013 include a Contemporary Improvisation Showcase featuring renowned faculty and alumni; an all-day Contemporary Improvisation Festival in Brooklyn curated by Anthony Coleman; and a panel discussion and performance highlighting NEC's pivotal role in the revitalization of Jewish music.