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Third-year BM Viola




as my pear of hope and hopelessness flies fragrant and soft into the inky black

I drink star blood and it dribbles in gleaming silver rivulets down my chin

I wipe it off the pimples with the back of my hand

already marked with the dirt that I buried my wing in

[the wing I stole from the grocery store

with the blond Tiresias at the fifth register

I left too fast

missed the laminated plastic card

my uncle told me later

in his (not his) deep rich baritone

whistling through his teeth

howling down his throat

that the sign was for a sale


so now I’m stuck on this perfect circle dust patch

(so much so red so round)

so red it stains my shoes my feet my pants

so I hold my single wing in my eyes

I stroke its scaly black feathers

I inhale the reek of iron and salt and cinnamon and peroxide and stale glue

I close my eyes like the lids are moving through miasmas of molasses


and the dream nails me in the chest like a tidal wave


I fall backwards onto the powdery earth

shards of sobs crash out of my throat

I hear my life seeping into the baking stones

my hand is suspended on a barbed wire in front of my nose

my lungs ache and croak

like a frog breathing fiberglass as it tries to sing

until the notes are sanded into rock and the phrases melt into rust



I am become a Frankenstein of blood and dirt and broken slicing nightmares

the star blood in my gullet boils through skin and bone until my arms liquefy and reform in knives

supernovas of blackest fire ring my eyes and crinkle the folds of my face into a grotesquery

my stomping feet send shockwaves through the pillars of space and time

I clap my lungs together and roar my sorrow

and the dream collapses in front of me

I turn the limp ragdoll shell onto its back

my face stares back at me

with two dead black hollows yawning inward

and I scream

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byFrankie FRANKIE YU
Second-year MM Trombone



Here are two recipes that are simple and fun, and not too challenging for someone who doesn’t make things very often (you know who you are). I’ll admit they are both desserts, but I have no shame!

Lemon Squares

As Fall comes around my taste buds crave the sweeter things. Here’s something sweet for the Halloween month.

for the crust

-½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

-½ cup granulated sugar

-1 cup all purpose flour

-pinch of salt

for the topping

-2 large eggs

-¾ cup granulated sugar

-1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

-3 tablespoons all purpose flour

-¼ cup fresh lemon juice   


-8×8 baking pan

-parchment paper

-medium bowl


Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease the baking pan with a little butter, and then place some parchment paper into the pan so that a little extra hangs over the sides. Grease the parchment paper as well.

To make the crust:

-whisk the ½ cup butter and ½ cup sugar together until fluffy

-add 1 cup flour and the pinch of salt

-knead all ingredients into a smooth dough, and then spread the dough into your prepared pan– pressing it into all the corners so it covers the base of the tray

-place the tray containing the dough into your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until the edges start to brown (make sure it doesn’t turn black– you’ll burn it!)

To make the filling:

-in a medium bowl whisk together the ¾ cup sugar and 2 eggs until well combined (you’ll know it’s ready when it starts to thicken)

-add the flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice and whisk all together until you get a nice smooth consistency

-once the crust is brown and ready, pour the filling right onto the crust and return it to the oven for another 18-20 minutes or until the filling looks “set”

After you take it out let it cool completely in the pan, then run a knife around the edges and cut it into square pieces. Now, it’s ready to eat! For an extra treat, give the bars a light dusting of powdered sugar!

Banana Bread

Good at any time of year, banana bread seems especially appropriate for colder weather, perhaps accompanied by a nice cup of coffee and a blanket.

for the bread

-1 and ½ cups all purpose flour

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-1 teaspoon baking powder

-¼ teaspoon salt

-½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

-1 cup sugar

-2 large eggs

-2 mashed super super ripe bananas

-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-1 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


-large bowl

-medium bowl

-small bowl

-loaf pan (or a cake pan)


Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease the loaf pan with a little butter.

-in the medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well blended

-in the large bowl, whisk the butter until it starts to become fluffy

-when the butter is fluffy, gradually add the sugar– continuously whisking until well blended

-add eggs to the mixture one at a time, whisking each in

-in a smaller bowl use a fork to mash the bananas until there are no lumps

-add the mashed bananas, lemon juice, and vanilla extract to the beaten butter/sugar/eggs mixture

-beat in the flour mixture in the large bowl until everything is well-combined

-pour your mixture into the prepared baking pan and stick in the oven for about 45 minutes

A trick for testing whether your creation is done is to stick something in the middle of it. If  comes out with batter still on it it’s not quite done yet. If it comes out clean, you’re all sett.If not, continue cooking and re-check every 5 minutes.

John Tyson - Thanks for your contributions but I would very much like to speak with you about considering recipes which are delicious and also cruelty free.
Our society is awakening to the fact that our fellow creatures are individuals just like us and, like us, feel pain, love their families and long to live free.
We do music as an art of communication and compassion. Let’s let that inform all our moral decisions.
May I please suggest you check out this link?

Thank you very much! I’d be happy to speak with you further if you wish.
Yours very sincerely,

admin - Hi John,

Thanks for your comment. We’ve actually already planned to feature some vegan ideas in our next issue, but we always welcome more contributions. If you have anything, you can submit it to!

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Second-year BM Voice


Second-year BM Voice



Syd and Elizabeth give us some competing viewpoints on how best to make a good impression this Halloween season!

SYD: October. Sweaters, scarves, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course: Halloween.

Halloween LadiesFor children, the favored holiday is synonymous with fun costumes, staying out late, and stealing mass quantities of your neighbors’ candy. For adults, it means spending too many paychecks on bags of chocolate that you claim you’ll give to kids, but really cram into your face in shame as your porch light remains dark. For college students, Halloween is an entirely different sort of beast. Around this time of year, your classes are in full gear and you’ve figured out (for the most part) how things work at NEC. The welcome/welcome back parties have long subsided and the homework load has consumed the majority of your “free” time. Don’t you need a break? Couldn’t you use a little pick me up to brighten these increasingly dark days? Yes. Yes you really could.

Consequently, I have compiled this helpful list of costumes to help you spice up your October schedule. And you most certainly don’t need to wait until the 31st in order to whip out one of these babies. Monday Solfege could just as easily become Monday Trollfege. German? Merman. Rep classes can transform into R.I.P classes if you play your cards right. And now, my top 5 picks for the month.

ELIZABETH: Let’s get everything out on the table and state the obvious: Halloween is awesome. Period. I believe that no matter how old you are, when Halloween rolls around we all get excited at the prospect of munching on candy and playing dress up. While it’s always important to choose whatever you want to wear and to have confidence in what you wear every day, we can’t avoid the fact that sometimes people just don’t agree with our clothing choices. But on Halloween, everything changes. You can wear whatever you want and no one will care. Why? Because it’s Halloween, silly!

Here are some of my tips for choosing a Halloween costume this year.


S: For a cool costume remove your skin and cardiovascular system to reveal those glorious, calcium-rich pearly whites! That’s right folks, Skeletor is IN this season, and there’s no better way to make an entrance than by shedding those silly muscles of yours and really rocking the minimal look for autumn. You’ll be the bees’ patella!Syd

E: Think of something you really enjoy or are really passionate about and translate that into your clothing! For example: My fiancé and I are very passionate about the TV show Bob’s Burgers! So, this year we have decided to go out as Bob and Linda Belcher! Watching that show is something we enjoy doing together as a couple, so it only makes sense that we would enjoy dressing up as our favorite characters together! If you are passionate about the color blue, you go out onto the streets of Boston decked out in blue from head to toe and you have yourself a colorful evening, darn it!


S: For a funny costume pull a No-Shave November in October and get confused as the first ever case of a human-yeti (ladies, you too)! This fun costume idea works both as a conversation starter and camouflage in the wild. For bonus points, shave the heads and bodies of your friends for extra material! Simply purchase some cheap super glue and go crazy.

E: Collaborate with your friends and come up with a group costume theme! During my freshman year, some friends and I dressed up as all of the characters from Peter Pan. It lead to some great pictures, and most importantly, some great memories! With so many hit television shows on air, there are endless group costume ideas. Go out as a group from Game of Thrones, True Blood, or American Horror Story. Go for a throw-back and dress up as all of the Disney Princesses, the Power Rangers, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Go ninja, go ninja, go!) There is simply nothing better than having fun on Halloween with some of your best buddies.


S: For a sexy costume, turn a simple household product into something salacious! This Hallows Eve, use that stapler, pillow, ashtray, or even spatula as inspiration for that turnt look! Attach a long, slightly curved, plastic pipe to your back with duct tape and throw on some lingerie to light up the streets as a Sexy Ladle. Alternatively, take a long, rectangular piece of wood and cut a small opening that your head would fit through. Next, slip right into that LBD with pride. Saunter into your next class as a Sexy Bench. Just do it.

E: Don’t be afraid to recycle a costume or costume idea. If you’re like me and you came from across the country, or better yet, across the world to attend NEC, who’s going to know if you’re wearing a costume that you’ve worn before? We’re college students! We don’t always have the budget to buy a brand new, deluxe costume! If you went out as a hippie in high school one year and you plan on going this year, who cares?! Slap on that head band and fringe jacket, hold up that peace sign, and get groovy!


S: For a cute costume cover your human form with sheets and be your pal’s safety blanket! Sashay into exams and plank directly on your buddies to make them feel secure with the task at hand. Do TP tests give you the willies? Me too. But I always feel warmer and more comfortable with my bestie draped around my neck as my own personal safety blanket! Pro tip: make it a couple’s season and have you and your significant other be each other’s safety blanket (CAUTION: This may result in a complete train wreck!)

E: As mentioned before, don’t spend millions on a costume. My fiancé and I’s Bob’s Burgers “costumes” are really just every day clothes. The only thing we’ll need to go out and actually purchase are aprons, and I found those on eBay for less than $4 with free shipping! You never need a huge budget in order to express your awesome costume ideas. Go to a thrift store (we all know you can find a BUNCH of weird stuff in there), or if you’re planning on going as something that seems intricate like the transformer Optimus Prime, fabricate your costume out of card board boxes and color it with paint or markers! That’s a great way to keep your Halloween costs down and to bring your creativity up! How awesome would it be to say that you made your own costume?!


S: For a scary costume literally consume your colleagues. Just rip the limbs off of others seated in your vicinity and chomp down. For a more delicious time, bring a personal George Foreman Grill around with you and BBQ the bejeezus out of your friends.

E: Most importantly, have fun! You should never take yourself too seriously, but this is especially relevant on Halloween.Liz Tigerlily


SYD: As you can see, this October doesn’t need to be one of pure academia. There is more to life than studying. I hope these fun costume concepts have helped you to expand your own ideas, as well as given you some time to reflect on the joys of friendship. Indeed, autumn is a time for fun and friends, and while school is crucial to your development as a musician, there is more to do than locking yourself in a practice room. So get out there and carve up a pumpkin (or your neighbor) for a truly sensational Halloween!


ELIZABETH: Whether you’ll be keeping it simple or going all out, I hope you guys and gals have a fabulous Halloween. Stay safe, and stay spooky!

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Third-year BM Voice



For many people, opera has the reputation of being an art form that is not just sophisticated, but sometimes unaccessible. Other than taking the time out of your day to sit in a darkened theater for anywhere from three to six (!) hours, there are limited opportunities to hear and experience this rich genre of music. Fear not, however, as Opera Brittenica has orchestrated an entirely different, out-of-the-box, and hauntingly clever new approach to drawing in an audience who will not just be watching, but also will be experiencing the action closer than ever before!


Opera Brittenica– run by David Sawicki and NEC alum Joshua Collier– is a musical organization focused entirely on the works of Benjamin Britten. A new project kicks off their second season with a “haunted-house” style adaptation of Britten’s 1954 work The Turn of the Screw: a gothic ghost story based on a novella by Henry James. In their ninety-minute long condensed version, Sawicki and Collier have chosen to break the barrier separating audience and actor by performing their production in a top-secret location in an old house in the Boston area.

The idea sprouted from Collier’s observation that the “standard convention of opera,” overwhelmed with the aesthetic aspects of production, often falls short in the category of emotional impression. This provoked him to engineer a method that would bridge the existing gap between stage and seat.

NEC’s own Rebecca Teeters is helping bridge that gap, as a leading cast member for this ambitious production. Aside from the wonderful work she does as an academic and international student advisor here at school, Rebecca is an accomplished soprano. She will be playing the role of Mrs. Grose in this upcoming production, and explained how the setting will inform the production.

Rebecca will be playing the role of Mrs. Grose in both performances.

Rebecca will be playing the role of Mrs. Grose in both performances.

The audience, limited to a group of thirty, will move through different rooms of the house as the performers reenact the chilling story of orphaned Miles and Flora. The producers hope to evoke authentic and visceral emotions from the audience by thrusting them into an uncomfortable situation, while witnessing an altogether disturbing story. The house will be dimly lit and the singers will be accompanied solely by a piano. This unconventional method will create not just a one-of-a-kind experience, but one perfectly suited for the Halloween weekend!

In addition to being a new experience for the audience, the actors will have their own unique challenges. Despite the clear presence of audience members, the actors will have to move throughout the house naturally, as if there were no one there. Due to the staging, there will be no conductor. Those who are familiar with the musical styles of Britten know this will create a daunting task for all of the artists involved.

Due to space constrictions there are only 90 tickets available for this unique staging, but Opera Brittenica hopes to produce a concert version in the near future. But if you want to see an NEC staff member in action, or enjoy the horrors of Halloween, you will not want to miss this spooky and thrilling combination of music and drama.

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Second-year GD Trombone




Music school, if you’re not careful, can be a sort of solitary confinement at times. You sit alone in a room for many daylight hours repeating the same task over and over, and it may not ever feel like it’s getting better. It’s refreshing, then, to see that there are people out there that sat in the same practice rooms as you, attended the same classes as you, even defaced the same music stands as you (you know who you are!), and made it through to the other side with their lives generally intact and together. With this in mind, The Penguin is embarking on a year-long project to seek out some of the most inspiring recent graduates from NEC to hear their take on life and place in music. The first alumni to receive our call are the members of indie jazz/rock/soul band Lake Street Dive.

Formed in 2004 whilst all members were attending NEC, Lake Street Dive had built a devoted fan base in the decade since its inception. The band, made up of Rachael Price (’07), Mike “McDuck” Olson (’05), Bridget Kearney (’08), and Mike Calabrese (’07), rose to higher prominence recently when a cover video of their take on The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” went viral on social media late last year. People seemed to be drawn to the rich qualities of vocalist Rachael Price’s voice, the sensitive stylings of the backing, and the impromptu nature of the video (filmed on a sidewalk in Brighton). Within weeks the group made their first appearance on the late show circuit, on The Colbert Report, and soon onto Letterman, Ellen, and most recently Conan. Importantly, though, they performed their original works in each of these appearances.

“I think [the success of the YouTube video] was kind of a confirmation. We had been working very hard, and we have a live show that we’re very proud of so it was really nice to all of a sudden have exposure that brought people to those shows and therefore lead them to listen to more of our original music– which is what our focus is.” says Rachael. And so, after a release of their second LP shortly after those initial appearances, one that prompted Rolling Stone magazine to declare LSD “this year’s best new band”, the group looks to be on an steep trajectory towards more recognition.

Photo courtesy of Charmaine Lee.

And rightly so. In an event organized by the NEC Jazz Department, Lake Street Dive recently came back to visit it’s alma mater for a ‘songwriting workshop’. Illuminating musically and emotionally, the workshop featured each of the four members walking the audience through one of their own compositions and detailing the elements that helped shape the final product; some stories deep– like Bridget’s story about the conception of her sultry “Seventeen” (“Have you ever met someone and lamented ‘If I knew you when I was younger we may have gotten along, but I’m a different person now?’”), some not so much– like the revelation that McDuck’s (who received his Scrooge-like nickname whilst living in the NEC dorms) upbeat “You Go Down Smooth” is really an ode to his favourite drink, a gin & tonic.

Whatever the situation, it’s evident is the Lake Street Dive is a band that loves playing together. “That was the genesis of it all.” says McDuck. “It was ‘Let’s play music together, and try to play music that could be played in a bar as opposed to the concert stage.”

“It was a lot more permanent than other things. As a bass player, there were a lot of opportunities for projects and gigs, but you played with a different person each gig.” Bridget mentions.

And NEC, even in a small way, helped to contribute to that flourishing of creative time between band members, says Mike “When people ask me what it was like to go here, I always thought it was like going to the sandbox again. You’re like a child in a sandbox, and you can do anything you want here. It’s open and free.”

So, get out of your practice room and jump into the sandbox, current students!

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