Ensemble Connect is a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.
Major funding has been provided by The Diller–von Furstenberg Family Foundation, Susan and Edward C. Forst and Goldman Sachs Gives, the Max H. Gluck Foundation, the Irving Harris Foundation, The Kovner Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Lester S. Morse Jr., Phyllis and Charles Rosenthal, The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund, and Ernst & Young LLP.
Additional support has been provided by Nicola and Beatrice Bulgari, Barbara G. Fleischman, Leslie and Tom Maheras, Susan and Elihu Rose Foundation, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon, and Trust for Mutual Understanding.
Public support is provided by the New York City Department of Education, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Ensemble Connect is also supported, in part, by an endowment grant from The Kovner Foundation.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary during the 2016–2017 season, Ensemble Connect—formerly known as Ensemble ACJW—was created in 2007 by Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson and The Juilliard School’s President Joseph W. Polisi. Ensemble Connect is a two-year fellowship program for the finest young professional classical musicians in the United States that prepares them for careers combining musical excellence with teaching, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership. It offers them top-quality performance opportunities, intensive professional development, and partnerships throughout the fellowship with New York City public schools.
Ensemble Connect fellows—chosen for their musicianship, but also for their leadership qualities and commitment to music education—come from some of the best music schools in the country, including the Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Peabody Institute, Stony Brook University, University of Southern California, and Yale School of Music.
Ensemble Connect has earned accolades from critics and audiences alike for the quality of its performances as well as its fresh and open-minded approach, performing a wide range of music—from centuries past to works written
days before an event—in a variety of performance venues. The group performs its own series at Carnegie Hall and has regularly appeared at The Juilliard School’s Paul Hall and other venues throughout New York City, including (Le) Poisson Rouge nightclub in Greenwich Village, Galapagos Art Space and National Sawdust in Brooklyn, and SubCulture in NoHo. As part of a partnership with Skidmore College that began in 2007, Ensemble Connect gives master classes for university students and performs for the Saratoga Springs community in both concert halls and in informal settings around town.
Along with performance opportunities at premier venues in New York City and beyond, Ensemble Connect fellows each partner with a New York City public school to share their artistry with—and become central resources
for—music classrooms in the five boroughs. Ensemble Connect fellows also take part in community work through the Weill Music Institute’s Musical Connections program, in which they perform at multiple non-traditional music venues across New York City, including healthcare settings, correctional facilities, and senior-service organizations.
Throughout the two-year program, Ensemble Connect fellows participate in rigorous, ongoing professional development to ensure that they gain the necessary skills to be successful in all areas of the program and to become leaders in their field. Areas of emphasis include artistic excellence, engagement strategies on and off the stage, advocacy, professional skills, and preparation for their in-school work.
Moving on to the next stage of their careers, Ensemble Connect’s 101 alumni are now making an impact on the national and international musical landscape in a wide variety of artistic and educational arenas. Continuing the strong bonds formed through the program, in 2011 the alumni formed the chamber music collective Decoda, which has been named an affiliate ensemble of Carnegie Hall.
Exemplary performers, dedicated teachers, and advocates for music throughout the community, the forward-looking musicians of Ensemble Connect are redefining what it means to be a musician in the 21st century. Visit ensembleconnect.org to learn more.
Mellissa Hughes enjoys a busy international career in both contemporary and early music. A dedicated interpreter of living composers, she has worked closely with Steve Reich and Neil Rolnick, and premiered works by David T. Little, Ted Hearne, Caleb Burhans, Christopher Cerrone, and Jacob Cooper, among others. Recent and upcoming highlights include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Beyond the Score performances in celebration of Pierre Boulez; Ted Hearne’s Wikileaks oratorio The Source at BAM, LA Opera, and San Francisco Opera; Ginastera’s Cantata America para Magica at the Ojai Music Festival; Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Five Images After Sapho with NOVUS NY; Ginastera’s String Quartet No. 3 with the Grammy-nominated Ensō String Quartet; and a solo recital for American Songbook at Lincoln Center. She has also been part of an acclaimed recording of Jacob Cooper’s Silver Threads from Nonesuch Records; international tours with John Zorn; a Bang on a Can All-Stars performance of David Lang’s Death Speaks in Paris; and performances with The Roots, Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Signal, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and more. Mellissa’s additional discography includes multiple albums from New Amsterdam Records and Shelter, a video opera from Bang on a Can by Michael Gordon and Pulitzer Prize winners David Lang and Julia Wolfe, released by Cantalope Music. She has recorded tracks for the WNYC program Radiolab, and has provided supporting vocals for My Brightest Diamond, The National, and The Breeders. Based in Brooklyn, Mellissa holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Yale University.