Spotlight On: Nouveau Classical Project

Spotlight On: Nouveau Classical Project featured image

Photo Credit: Tuan Bui


The Nouveau Classical Project (NCP) is a musical group that presents classical and new music to emerge a diverse range of different audiences. They consist of 6 members:

NCP is “A hybrid production hub and performing ensemble” and was founded by pianist Sugar Vendil who wanted to bring creativity to classical music and make it appealing to a wide range of music lovers. The New Classical 96.3 FM had the chance to ask each member a few questions. Here they are:

Q: Tell us a bit about how The Nouveau Classical Project was formed:

A: From Sugar Founder, Artistic Director, and Pianist:

The Nouveau Classical Project (NCP) started off as a concert series because the idea of starting an ensemble had not yet crossed my mind. At that point I was more focused on executing the concerts, but as I kept doing more work with NCP, I remembered that I pursued music because I love performing, and I built up the confidence to perform more and more. I also enjoyed playing chamber music and working with a team of musicians, so I thought it would make sense to establish NCP as an ensemble.

Over the past 5 years we’ve primarily self-produced our concerts, hence our identification as a ‘hybrid ensemble and production hub.’

Q: How were members selected to be a part of this group?

A: From Sugar Founder, Artistic Director, and Pianist:

Some members had performed in NCP at the beginning, and the rest I was connected with via recommendations and referrals. As with any group, it’s essential to get the right mix of people, and with a group of six it has been a challenge. It’s not only important to have a team of hardworking and talented musicians, but also artists who are invested in the future of the group. NCP has great chemistry and an energy that makes working together fun, productive, and inspiring.

Q: What was the inspiration behind forming NCP?

A: From Sugar Founder, Artistic Director, and Pianist:

The initial impetus for NCP was my longing to do something creative between graduating and starting my master’s, as well as my lifelong adoration for fashion. I wanted to come up with a way to create a connection between two things I love. It started with the simple goal of ‘doing something’ but I soon realized there was a greater need to fill: to engage new audiences and to create a more inspiring and open environment for classical music in general. I also wanted to reach people who were not already involved in classical music in a way that was innovative but maintained the integrity of music.

Q: When did you first begin playing your instrument of choice and why did you choose it?


“I started playing violin when I was 3 years old. Apparently I saw Itzhak Perlman on Sesame Street when I was 2 and wouldn’t stop bugging my mom about how much I wanted to play violin for months. She finally caved in and enrolled me in the local Suzuki method school. I don’t remember any of this, but that’s how the story goes!” -Marina Kifferstein, violin

“I was a bit wild in the first grade, but the teacher said I was very musical after catching me during math class chasing my friend around the classroom while singing that I was a yeti. So then I had to have music lessons and therapy. I was given my choice of any instrument I wanted, and I picked the tuba. Then I was given my choice of any other instrument I wanted, and I picked the drums, so they handed me a violin. I didn’t like the violin, and my first lesson was all about learning how to respect the violin, but I wasn’t allowed to touch it. And after the teacher saw me pick my nose and wipe it on the violin, she went away and I got a cello.”-Kivie Cahn-Lipman, Cello

“I started singing when I was 7 years old, and I probably chose it because it got me a lot of attention. Now that I am a mature level-headed adult, I know the voice as an instrument in the ensemble. I choose it now, because I am most attracted to language as a form of expression, and I spend my hours orchestrating the most impactful way I can communicate experiences through sounds and words.”- Amanda Gregory, soprano

“My parents put me in piano lessons at three and a half and I had lessons erratically during elementary school. Then I started again at 11 when I saw a kid in my class play an arrangement of Liszt’s ‘Hungarian Rhapsodie No. 2’ and I thought, ‘I wanna do that.’” – Sugar Vendil, piano

“I had taken piano lessons since I was really young and hated it. When I had the chance to pick a wind instrument in 4th grade, I got excited to play something completely different and I loved the sound of the clarinet.” -Isabel Kim, clarinetist

“I first started out playing french horn… it seemed kind of imposing and sexy and i was super excited. until i went to a high school orchestra concert in my neighborhood and heard the flute in context (not “merrily we roll along”). I immediately turned over to my mom and began a non-stop onslaught of intense campaigning against the horn and for the flute (whining/bribery- the usual 10 year old stuff…). She was kind, I was lucky, and a few weeks later I was trying to put my flute together.
now, 14 years later, I have a whole slew of “why the flute?” reasons, but to me the most important one is that the moment i heard it, i knew that i loved it.” – Laura Cocks, flutist

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