Suzanne Oleson of bluegrass group Chasing Blue

Although I really enjoyed seeing The Bad Plus, and hearing Bobby McFerrin speak left me speechless, attending Berklee’s first ever String Showcase was the event of my semester

Berklee's harp principles performing Gravity by Sara Bareilles

Berklee World Strings opened the evening with tango, folk, and jazz infused repertoire that set the stage for the rest of the evening’s contemporary and genre-bending program. But the 150-student string department is not just comprised of the conventional orchestral stringed instruments – mandolin, banjo, and harp players are included too. And the variety in instruments, genres, and musicians was phenomenal.

My favorite acts included the bluegrass ensemble Chasing Blue, the dueling jazz violinists Eli Bishop and Ben Powell [see the video at the end of this post], and the magnetic Eric Robertson and the Boston Boys, especially the aforementioned leader who drew whoops and hollers from the audience. And, of course, whether performing or speaking passionately about his vision for the String Showcase, Jakub Trasak owned the night.

Jakub Trasak introducing the Berklee String Showcase

Like any new endeavor, though, the showcase had its hiccups, from poor transitions, technical difficulties with video playback, and other rough edges that characterize the String Showcase as the younger cousin of the more polished Singers Showcase (at least, so I’m told, since I’ve yet to attend a Singers Showcase). But overall, the mistakes were few and I’m sure they’ll smooth them out for next year’s String Showcase, which I’m greatly looking forward to attending.

– Elisa

Alex Hargreaves

Berklee World Strings featuring Rika Ikeda & Julgi Kang

Sierra Hull

Maggie MacKay of Chasing Blue

Chasing Blue

Eric Robertson and the Boston Boys

Maureen Choi