“A musician is a social innovator:” Kristo Kondakçi ’13, ’15 MM brings The Women's Chorus to NEC

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NEC's Erica J. Washburn and the Chamber Singers welcomed the Eureka Ensemble Women's Chorus, comprised of women experiencing homelessness, for a joint master class in Jordan Hall, co-led by Women's Chorus co-founder Kristo Kondakçi ’13, ’15 MM.

“I love singing. I love music; I love everything about it. I believe in it. I believe that without it, the world would be pretty barren and scary.” —Michelle, Women’s Chorus participant

NEC Chamber Singers and the Eureka Ensemble Women's Chorus shared a master class in Jordan Hall

Singers from the Eureka Ensemble Women’s Chorus recently visited Jordan Hall for a joint choral master class with the NEC Chamber Singers.

The Women’s Chorus (TWC) is comprised of participants who are experiencing homelessness and severe poverty and seeking meaningful musical experiences. The Chorus was cofounded by NEC alumnus Kristo Kondakçi ’13, ’15 MM with David McCue. Since its launch, the chorus has engaged over 80 of Boston’s most vulnerable women from many diverse backgrounds, ages 23 to 82.

“In lieu of a traditional rehearsal, we hold a ‘meetup’ every Wednesday and Friday. This is due to the transitional nature of homeless life," explains Kondakçi. "Thus our participants consist of a combination of first-time, one-time, or regular attendees and volunteers. All are equally welcome and each meetup is designed to be a stand-alone musical experience.

“Then on Thursdays, we have private lessons. Professional singers come in and teach the voice lessons, and we have keyboard lessons as well, and people can work on what they want to work on.”

Building skills in a shared master class

Erica J. Washburn co-taught the master class with Kristo Kondakçi ’13, ’15 MM and David McCue

In the Jordan Hall master class, Kondakçi, McCue, and NEC’s Director of Choral Activities Erica J. Washburn led choristers in building breathing, body awareness, and diction skills. The combined ensembles worked on repertoire including Eric Whitacre’s “Seal Lullaby,” “Amazing Grace,” and a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday” for a TWC chorister celebrating her 82nd.

“Singing here was awkward, enlightening, and majestic, all at the same time. I feel a really neat energy that I’ve never felt before,”

shared Michelle, a Women’s Chorus participant. “The education behind the breathing—I’m excited about learning to get that down. When I hear the other girls perfect it, like an instrument, it makes me want to do it, too.”

Junior Vocal Performance major Allyson Bennett ’20 shares that her time at NEC has “opened up doors to not just perform in gigs outside of NEC, but also to connect with people of other schools and other backgrounds,” particularly through working with the Chamber Singers and the Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Community Performances & Partnerships departments: 

“NEC opens a lot of doors. It doesn’t keep you trapped in the conservatory bubble.”

Kristo KondakciComment