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the door opens

Third-year BM Viola



hallway, whitewashed clean;
lightbulbs flicker, hang from wires,
buzz like softest bees

walking heavy, dry
ashy steps in chalky dust
past framed blank portraits

paint peels off doorposts
slivers of brown cut my eyes;
every door is locked

my skin bleeds out red
my clothes bleed out blue, until
everything is white

black square hole looms small
down the infinite straight line:
a way out, or in?

fourteen thousand clouds
of grey-white hall dust later,
the ebon portal.

gilded letters read:
my head touches them

and suddenly, noise:

my head snaps back up
into the white noise hallway…
no longer peaceful

hissing light bulbs over
white portrait maws yawning wide
chalky ash whirlwinds

I look back again
at a golden gleaming knob,
it turns, and I run

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Third-year BM Voice



I know for a fact that when I say the beginning, middle, and end of a second semester at NEC is always crazy busy, I’m not just speaking for myself! I can honestly say that when I have days of back to back classes paired with early morning and late night rehearsals, food becomes a very low priority for me. This semester, I barely have time for breakfast, lunch doesn’t exist so I’m forced to eat small finger foods in class, and dinner needs to be something quick and easy because of how exhausted I am! Because of this crazy food schedule (or lack thereof), I have turned to preparing my meals ahead of time and then freezing them so that when I come home, I can pour my prepared ingredients into a pan, pop them into the oven for a short amount of time, and then dig in! Here are two of my go-to make ahead recipes, both provided by

Herb Roasted Chicken Breast


1 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons dried onion
4 cloves of garlic crushed
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon season salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
8 bone-in chicken breasts or thighs, with or without skin


Crush garlic.
In a medium size bowl, prepare the basting sauce by combining olive oil, broth, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, salt, pepper & parsley.
Be sure to label bags first then divide mixture into the 2 bags. Then add chicken to bags with basting sauce, massage basting sauce around chicken then freeze.
Thaw chicken and cook in shallow baking dish. Cover with tinfoil.
Roast at 425 degrees F, if desired baste occasionally with pan drippings, cook for about 45-60 minutes. (Use a meat thermometer to be safe!)  Once cooked, plate on a warm platter and spoon pan juices over top.
Tip: Roast potatoes at the same time. Toss potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and parsley.Roast uncovered on baking sheet.

Prep time: 5-7 minutes, Cook time: 35-45 minutes, Servings: 8

Easy Tomato Parmesan Chicken


1 24oz jar tomato/spaghetti sauce (such as Ragu)
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella, shredded (optional)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley
3-4 lbs skinless, boneless chicken


Press or mince garlic and chop parsley.
Combine tomato sauce, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, seasoning, parsley and garlic.
OPTIONAL: If making ahead and freezing, remember to label your 2 gallon size freezer bags then divide chicken into 2 bags.
Pour sauce over chicken.
Thaw if frozen.  Pour contents of bag into casserole dish, then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese (optional) and bake, covered, at 425 degrees for approx for 35-45 minutes (time may vary based on size of chicken–be sure to check before eating!) Alternatively, you can cook in crock-pot for 4-6 hours on low or 2-3 hours on high (but we HIGHLY recommend using the oven–it gives it a much better flavor and texture!)

Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook time: 30 minutes in oven or in crock pot for 4-6 hours on low, Servings: 8

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Third-year BM Oboe



At 8:15 on January 18th, 2015, an orchestra of eager students and studs from the freelance scene was growing increasingly impatient as they sat in their seats awaiting the downbeat from conductor James Blachly, whose back was turned to an audience mostly comprised of twenty-somethings stuffed on a dance floor in an auditorium of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, transformed with the glow of neon lighting. At 8:16, James raised his baton, and everyone in the room wondered what would happen next.

Blachly, Zander Fellow of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and founder of the Sheep Island Ensemble, with the vision and direction of Johnny Helyar, had assembled an orchestra to play Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, paid for a cash bar, and invited an audience to enjoy the performance while dancing, moving, grooving, and rocking out to the Rite of Spring. Their nickname for the event? “A Rite of Spring Dance Party,” of course. Presented by the Boston Philharmonic as the inception of their “New Directions” series, BPO partnered up with Groupmuse and Music for Food, so all proceeds benefited The Womens’ Lunch Place.

Nervous classically-trained musicians in the orchestra speculated that there could be a full-on riot (not unprecedented in the slightest), but most assumed we would have a crowded dance floor of people standing still and talking amongst themselves, drinks in hand. As it turned out, the former was closer to the result.

The audience remained mostly motionless through the opening (bravo to Adrian Morejon for plaintively and beautifully presenting the bassoon solo), but when the punching chords of the Augurs of Spring started, excitement brewed and everyone in attendance began to party like it was 1913. Each time Blachly and the orchestra reached a new section, commotion ensued as the crowd found a way to dance to the new music.

Such commotion and palpable energy from the audience was infectious. The orchestra tried to hold together amidst our own excitement and the entropy going on just in front of us. Halfway through the Sacrificial Dance, a collective panic came over the orchestra when we smelled someone smoking marijuana. During a spontaneous encore of the Danse Sacrale, one passionate concertgoer went crowd-surfing (see Instagram for photo evidence). Each member of the orchestra felt like a rockstar when applause exploded from the audience after the final thunderous blow of the timpani.

Le Sacre, now a piece performed more as a concert selection than as a real ballet, as it was intended, gains something from having the extra kinetic element in the room. In many ways, it felt more historically accurate to perform under such conditions. Just as in the premiere, the audience provided endlessly unpredictable sounds and distractions. It was like Rite of Spring adversity training for the orchestral musician. But for the audience, it was a chance to experience amazing music in a way that will be forever more memorable and more engaging.

The reaction to the Dance Party was more successful than anyone could have imagined. But where do we go from here? Shostakovich 5 Revolution? Penderecki Halloween Party? Daphnis and Chloe Orgy (maybe not…)? In any case, look for music in Boston and beyond to become more interactive, more engaging, and more exciting for all in the coming years.

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Second-year GD Trombone



I first encountered Rob Dehlinger on Twitter in August of 2014, when he tweeted at The Penguin’s account about the long lost, but not forgotten hockey games between Juilliard and NEC in the late 80s (incidentally where the nickname Penguins comes from!). An NEC alumnus, Rob seems particularly adept at social media, so of course I followed his moves closely. It’s always great to see a former NEC student out there in the real world doing what they love, so we managed recently to find some time to chat about what he is up to and bring his wisdom to readers of The Penguin.

Rob Trumpet Downtown DisneyA jazz trumpeter, Rob graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from NEC in 1998. After graduating, Rob says he “realized how great a place NEC was and how much I’d been learning, so I re-applied as a grad student.” Since completing his Master’s in 2000, Rob has been residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the years since moving back, Rob has led a varied career. He plays over 200 live gigs a year, primarily as part of the jump-blues band Stompy Jones, and lends his talents to composing, recording, teaching, and singing as well: “My philosophy is always just being open minded and doing different things. I was a jazz major, when I came into NEC as a third year, but I felt a bit behind the ball. Growing up in the west coast I was focused on big band stuff, and NEC had all this bebop improv stuff going on. By the time I left NEC, I had more than a handle on it, but I was open minded enough to not just pursue that music for my career. And recently, I’ve gotten into this crazy song writing, doodling thing now.”

The “doodling thing” Rob refers to is in reference to his latest album, Songs For My Friends Vol. 1. In 2012, Rob decided to put his skills to the challenge and created a project that aimed to write a new song each week for an entire year: “I was interested in the idea of just challenging myself to write a new song or a new idea every other day basically. I can make something as fast as I’m physically able to do it. I’ll get slowed down by the computer crashing, or my kid crying, or the guitar string breaking, but that’s the only thing that slows me down. I thought ‘I need to do something with this.’”

“I remember Stevie Wonder talking about how he just wrote songs all the time, and he just released the good ones. And I remember the Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal, who my friend Felipe Salles introduced me to, had a book where he’d written a song a day for a year. His was just like a little lead sheet. I thought ‘What if I do this but actually record the song too?’ So I went on Facebook and just said “If you guys want a song about yourself, write to me.” I thought, I’ll do one song a week, and putting it out publicly made me accountable.”

Songs For My Friends- Volume One Cover Art 2014Originally released just onto his website, Rob found them too good to not release wider. So, he went back to the drawing board with each of them, sweetened the mixes, and the result is the first of two volumes of Songs For My Friends – volume 2 due for release later this year.

The year-long project has led to other things opening up for him, too: “I am a huge Star Wars fan. I discovered that there’s all kinds of podcasts out there. Any weird thing you type in, there’ll be a podcast of it. And some of them are pretty professionally done. So I found these Star Wars podcasts, and I contacted a few of the ones that I really liked and ended up working for some of them. The Skywalking Through Neverland one is really good because it’s this silly, fun, Disney-like Star Wars music. I’ll use some of the John Williams themes and put words to them in my own way. It was a perfect home for this strange skill that I have. And now, because they are getting a lot of downloads, I’m getting all this extra publicity too. Now people are starting to request me to write music for their podcast. There doesn’t seem to be really anyone else out there doing that at the moment, so I’ve kind of chartered this weird, expressive outlet for myself.”

For a school that seems so encouraging of finding your own voice in music, NEC is lucky to have such a strong embodiment of this philosophy in Rob Dehlinger: “NEC gave me so many tools that I’m still learning from today. I had so many lessons where I’m still looking back at my old notes.” One is enticed by the concept of this year-long project just by the impact it had on its instigator: “It gave me an idea – for better or worse – of what I really am capable of; to see what came out of me when I worked really fast.” Finally, he adds “It’s good to do what comes naturally.”

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