Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Tod Oliviere

Tod Oliviere

Student Post: Friendliness, Generosity and Kindness Abroad

Drum principal and professional performance major, Elena Bonomo ’14, blogs about the recent BIN visit to Kuala Lumpur’s International College of Music. 

Guitarist and electronic production and design major Annie Grunwald (`13) and drummer and professional performance major Elena Bonomo (`14) back stage at KLPAC.

Guitarist and electronic production and design major Annie Grunwald (`13) and drummer and professional performance major Elena Bonomo (`14) back stage at KLPAC.

Having the chance to perform in Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life! At the start of our journey, Annie (Grunwald) and I had no idea what to expect. Neither of us had ever traveled so far from home before! As soon as we were introduced to the students from International College Music (ICOM), we knew that this trip was going to be special.

Our first days were spent rehearsing with the girls for the Tribute to Classic Rock Concert. Annie and I were part of the “Women In Rock” portion of the show (the other two sets were tributes to American Rock and British Rock). The rehearsal process was one of the most intense that I’ve ever experienced. We ran through our set, performed numerous sound checks, learned the stage blocking, got fitted for costumes, ran dress rehearsals, and received notes from the directors and producers of the show. The attention to detail (from the monitor levels, to the video angles and lighting cues, to the stage blocking, to the sound in the house) was at a level that I never experienced before. Everyone who was responsible for producing the show really did an amazing job ensuring that every single aspect of the show was perfect.

I had such a fun time performing in the two concerts! The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC) was such a beautiful venue in which to perform. What really amazed me was the fact that everyone who performed in the show also doubled as a guitar tech, drum tech, etc. And many of them played multiple instruments during the show! It was hard to tell which one was their principle instrument, since they were all equally amazing on everything that they played. Many of the students also ran sound and lighting, which can be such a hard task, given that there were three different sets with multiple instrument changes. It was really an honor to share the stage with such talented musicians! We really appreciate that the students from ICOM let us be part of a show that was so special to them.  They had been working on this show for 3 months before we got there.

Annie Grunwald (guitar - Left) and Elena Bonomo (drum set) performing at the 2013 ICOM Celebration Series - Classic Rock Showcase at KLPAC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Annie Grunwald (guitar – Left) and Elena Bonomo (drum set) performing at the 2013 ICOM Celebration Series – Classic Rock Showcase at KLPAC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Along with performing in the two tribute concerts, we also had some time to explore the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur. We visited the Batu Caves (and became best friends with the monkeys), shopped at Central Market, visited some malls, and ate a tasty banana leaf dinner in Bangsar Village. The girls had been telling us about how we just HAD to try banana leaf since the first day we got there — and wow, it was so worth it! It’s basically a ton of spicy chicken, lamb, fish, rice and vegetables that are served family style, on top of a banana leaf! And you’re supposed to eat it with your hands. It was definitely messy, but so worth it!

Traveling to Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life, and I will remember it forever. In just a week, we made such close friends and it was hard to say goodbye. Even though we were halfway across the world, everyone that we met made us feel right at home. We were so humbled by the friendliness, generosity, and genuine kindness of everyone we met at ICOM. I look forward to working with all of these talented people someday in the future, and also seeing some of them at Berklee next year! I hope that someday we will get a chance to repay them for all that they did for us. Many thanks to ICOM president Miss Irene (Savari), ICOM vice president Dato’ Ravi (Savari), professor of music technology Mr. Nilesh (Thomas), Roger Brown, Tod Oliviere and the Scholarship Office, Jason Camelio, and everyone who made this trip possible! I am truly honored to have been part of such an amazing journey.”

Generosity – Dominican-Style

By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs

As the last finalist walked from the recital hall at the National Theater in Santo Domingo, we on the audition panel turned to one another and shared a few smiles. On one hand, the easy part was done. Over the past day and a half we had auditioned 30+ talented young musicians that had been selected as finalists for the 2012 Michel Camilo Scholarship. The hard part was about to begin. We now had to select the one candidate to receive the presidential scholarship generously donated by Michel.

We had heard fantastic auditions covering various styles. From exceptional performances of classical piano repertoire, to stellar Jazz and Blues to even transcriptions of Michel’s work — the overall quality showcased made it clear that these young musicians are not messing around. Much of what they have accomplished is due to their individual commitment to music study.  This is helped along my high level music education at places like the National Conservatory — where Michel studied.

The Conservatory now has a strong contemporary music program focusing on the Jazz tradition. One of the program directors and faculty is a Berklee alum Javier Vargas. Javier was extremely proud to have a number of his students selected as finalists for the competition.

2012 Michel Camilo Award Finalists

2012 Michel Camilo Award Finalists

Director of scholarships Tod Oliviere, assistant vice president for international program Greg Badolato, Michel and I began our deliberations. Going back through the detailed notes we had taken from the auditions and interviews, names began to emerge. As with many awarding situations, Tod knew that there were many potential recipients.

In the end, one performance stood out. A student from the Conservatory and an exceptional young guitarist, Roger De La Rosa. In this moment, his life changed thanks to Michel’s gift, dedication and support of young Dominican musicians.

It is important to note that Berklee also awarded a number of partial-tuition scholarships as well as a couple of 5 week Summer Performance Programs Scholarships to the other fine talents in the group of finalists.

Also, we owe a debt of thanks to the National Theater for allowing us use of the space for this event, to Orange (telecommunications provider) for sponsoring this event and providing us with top-notch support.  And extra special thanks goes to Herminio León who is not only an artist in the business world, but an award-winning photographer.  He and his team made this event truly special for all involved.

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