Nick began his exploration of classical music in studying the piano at the age of 8. He switched to cello after discovering the expressive range, versatility, and resonance of this sonorous string instrument. Determined to find more training at a higher caliber in his hometown, he attended an elite conservatory prep program (Santa Barbara Music and Arts Conservatory, or MAC) in high school where he studied chamber music and conducting. Nicolas went on to complete his Bachelor of Arts degree at Wheaton College in Norton, MA in 2016, where he was a scholarship recipient. He studied with cellist Zarina Irkaeva (M.M., St. Petersburg Conservatory, St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra) and won Wheaton’s Edna D. Parks Prize in music theory as well as the Concerto-Aria Competition. During his time at Wheaton, Sterner played with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, through which he taught music to inner city youth in an El Sistema modeled organization affiliated with the Boston Philharmonic Crescendo! Program.
After receiving his degree in music with a minor in international politics, Nicolas set off on a path of musical self-discovery, beyond the traditional confines of the conservatory system. The freedom to explore new ways to share his musical passion and talent led to the founding of his own ensemble – Chromos Collaborative Orchestra – where he serves as the organization’s collaborative director and conductor. He also pursued real-world, practical experience in music administration and management by working for the Eda K. Loeb Music Library at Harvard University, Emmanuel Music, GroupMuse, and presently as concert manager for the GLISSANDO Concert Series with Sergey Schepkin, founder and artistic director.
Sterner has traveled extensively throughout Europe to engage in self-study of aesthetic philosophy, art history, and music criticism. He recently visited Austria and Germany, where he attended and reviewed orchestral performances in Berlin and Salzburg. You can read Nicolas’ published works through the Boston Musical Intelligencer, a highly-respected music journalism venue.
Sterner has been very fortunate to have performed in concert halls nationally and around the world, including Het Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), De Doelen (Rotterdam), and St. Bavo Cathedral (Haarlem), Carnegie Hall (New York City), Symphony Hall (Boston), Sanders Theatre (Cambridge), Paine Hall (Harvard), Lotte Lehmann Hall (University of California at Santa Barbara), and Hahn Hall (Music Academy of the West).
A lover of learning, Nicolas takes inspiration from the works of musical philosopher Theodor Adorno, music critic for the New Yorker, Alex Ross, as well as Soviet cellist Daniil Shafran, French-Israeli violinist Ivry Gitlis, and German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. His teachers and mentors have included Andrew Altenbach, Brandon Keith Brown, Emmanuel Feldman, Irene Sharp, Zarina Irkaeva, Ervin Klinkon, Nina Bodnar, and John Sant’Ambrogio, among many others.
In the summer and fall of 2020, Nicolas reconfigured the Chromos Collaborative Orchestra to accommodate a chamber music division which produced socially distant outdoor concerts as part of the newly launched Courtyard Concert series. Other recent musical engagements include performances and masterclasses with Colin Carr at the Maine Chamber Music Seminar, conducting the Ip Piano School concerto concert, performances with MIT chamber music ensembles, and a conducting seminar in Berlin, Germany with Brandon Keith Brown.
When he’s not teaching, practicing his cello and conducting techniques, or writing music reviews, Nicolas enjoys exploring nature, exercise, cycling, reading, cooking, dreaming of his next trip to Europe, and maintaining his knowledge of French and German.