NEC to Celebrate Ran Blake’s 85th Birthday from March 22-24

Mike Lawson • News • March 19, 2021

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Ran Blake

New England Conservatory’s Department of Contemporary Improvisation will celebrate Chair Emeritus Ran Blake with Portrait of Ran Blake: Celebrating 85 Years from Monday, March 22 to Wednesday, March 24, 2021. The streaming events will include interviews on March 22 and 23 and a concert March 24.

More details from NEC (

An internationally acclaimed performer, recording artist and MacArthur Fellow, Blake has been a pioneering teacher at NEC for more than 50 years. His teaching style emphasizes “the primacy of the ear,” an approach that values listening and promotes innovation and individuality. The Newest Sound Around, his 1962 RCA recording with vocalist Jeanne Lee, is an enduring classic, and he’s continued his groundbreaking work with vocalists including NEC alums Sara Serpa, Christine Correa and faculty member Dominique Eade. Blake also conceived the popular annual Film Noir concert series at NEC.

Streaming events include:

Monday, March 22, 7:30 p.m. EST – Interview: “Looking Back at Eighty-Five”

Renowned music historian Robin D.G. Kelley interviews Ran Blake about his life and musical legacy. Aaron Hartley, producer/videographer. For more information and to stream the event go to

Tuesday, March 23, 7:30 p.m. EST – Interview: “Adding Spice”

Hankus Netsky and Ran Blake reflect on Ran’s innovative approach to listening, teaching and performing. Aaron Hartley, producer/videographer. For more information and to stream the event go to

Wednesday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. EST – Concert featuring Blake, NEC Faculty and Students

The performance, pre-recorded at Jordan Hall, features Blake in performance with faculty members and students. For program information and to stream the event go to

Produced by CI Department Co-Chair Eden MacAdam-Somer, the March 24 concert features reinterpretations of Ran’s music along with original student compositions/improvisations created as the soundtrack to scenes from The Pawnbroker and Portrait of Jennie. Performers include current students Delfina Cheb-Terrab, Emily Mitchell, Joseph Van-Leeuwen, Shalun Li, Rihards Kolamis, Caleb Schmale, Lyra Montoya, Griffin Woodard, Matthew Shifrin, Grace Ward, and Lucy Little, along with the CI Chamber Ensemble, CI faculty members Eden MacAdam-Somer and Anthony Coleman, and a special solo set by Ran Blake.

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