Elvis Costello Receives Honorary Doctorate from NEC!

Elvis Costello Receives Honorary Doctorate from NEC!

Here’s a post from one of our great student workers, Eric Stilwell, after attending the song-writing workshop at NEC during Elvis Costello’s visit to NEC!

“As a performer and composer for almost 40 years, it’s hard to believe there are awards and titles that Elvis Costello has not yet earned. This past friday, The english singer-songwriter was awarded a Doctorate of Music from the New England Conservatory‘s Contemporary improvisation department. Dr. Costello’s visit started with a workshop with students, and ended with a live interview in Jordan Hall. Wether working with The Attractions, The Roots, Paul McCartney, or college students, his love for music and creativity is clear.

In the work shop, Elvis sat in front the bands, next to CI department chair Hankus Netsky and CI ( and SCE) Faculty Eden MacAdam-Somer. The three gave advice to the performers on how to make their songs better. Having not been trained classically or formally, Dr. Costello’s advice was often in a much different style than a conservatory professor would give. While there was a clear respect for the way music is studied here at NEC, he did not stray from his own beliefs. He spoke about how textures in music can change the intensity, or paint a different picture. At one point he observed the difference between a group of people each playing their instruments, and a group of people performing together to create an image through sound.

Dr. Costello held a genuine interest in each performance, and made sure that he had an understanding of what message the performers and writers were trying to convey. His first album is titled My Aim is True, and after 40 years, the title still holds its meaning. Listening to him speak to each group, I could tell how invested he was with each one, and how invested he is in music in general. It’s amazing that after all these years he is still so passionate about creating and revolutionizing music.”

Eric Stilwell
NEC School of Continuing Education Work-Study Student
B.M. Jazz Studies ’16


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