Dan Carlin, Berklee’s chair of film scoring, reports.
Feb. 10–11: Over the past two days, we’ve held Berklee auditions at the Performers Collective here in Gurgaon, India. The demand was so great that, instead of working in shifts, our two audition teams were forced to double-book. In addition, this necessitated our corralling David McKay (Berklee’s vice president of institutional advancement) into performing interviews to handle the overflow.
On Wednesday, I teamed with Gregorio “The Great” Badolato. We saw a wide range of student musicians, some performing traditional ethnic music, some singing jazz or pop tunes, some spicing up Indian ragas with western harmonics, some playing the blues. Compared to players, many more singers showed up here than has been my experience in the Atlanta and L.A. auditions. To my surprise and pleasure, there was no substantial difference in talent at the higher levels—that is to say, several of the students here measured up to the best we have heard in the States.
One of the reasons Berklee thrives is that 25% of the student population is made up of International students, which does more than enhance our cultural environment. What we see is that when these students introduce the music of their homelands into the Berklee mix, it shows up in the compositions and performances of their fellow students. And that’s why my fellow roadies and I have traveled halfway around the globe to be here.
Okay, admittedly, we’re also here for the cuisine. Last night we treated our hosts to dinner at what is claimed to be the finest restaurant in New Delhi, the Smoke House. While others dined on duck, rabbit, lamb, and more standard fare, I feasted upon Himalayan trout accompanied by linguini in squid ink. I was surprised, in India, to see rib-eye steak on the menu. Our hosts informed us that anytime steak is ordered in Indian restaurants, the diner is certain to be served not beef, but bison.
Meanwhile, back on the job, for today’s auditions, I teamed up with Berklee’s director of international programs (and trombonist/bandleader) Jason Camelio. We saw another group of talented singers and players, many of whom are able to excel even without the benefit of private study. However, as we have told them, they will be unable to participate successfully in Berklee classrooms without a better understanding of music fundamentals and sight-reading ability. Fortunately, they have access to such instruction here at the Performers Collective.
Tomorrow morning, my colleagues and I will be up early for our flight to Mumbai, where more adventure and even warmer temperatures await us. Stay tuned!
Read earlier posts from the India trip: