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Shout Out for Larry Monroe

VP for Academic Affairs/Berklee Valencia Larry Monroe

Vice President for External Affairs Tom Riley bids alumnus, professor, dean, and vice president Larry Monroe a fond farewell as he retires from Berklee.

After directing the Berklee program in Italy for the 27th year, Larry Monroe retired from Berklee on August 1—the college he entered as a student in 1962 following his service in the Army—and where he has been a leading faculty member, chair, dean, and vice president. He has been a teacher and mentor to countless young musicians, many who have gone on to highly successful careers.  In addition to his vast accomplishments in curriculum, programs, and international partnerships, he has probably auditioned half the students enrolled at the college at any given time over the last quarter century. He is a leader-by-example and friend to the many of us who have been fortunate to work alongside him during the course of his 50 years at Berklee.

I am personally grateful to know Larry as a friend, and have learned plenty from him over my 25 years here. He can be disarmingly open in sharing his thoughts and opinions, and listening to him helps you understand the value of a contrarian point-of-view as a balance alongside instinct. When it comes to subjects such as national and world politics, or the social and cultural history of music, he can freely extemporize what amount to private tutorials. He provides detailed instruction in the appreciation of fine Spanish cuisine, obscure jazz recordings, and rare single malts. He consistently demonstrates the critical importance of a global perspective in decision-making. For Larry, there are no knots that cannot be untied, or refashioned into graceful shapes.

He recently said that in retrospect, he can view his Berklee administrative years as a hiatus from what he truly loves to do, and is energized to get back to writing and playing music full time. Among other projects, Larry directs a very popular songbook series at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, and on October 18, will lead a concert at the Berklee Performance Center, bringing many of his friends and colleagues to the stage in a career retrospective.

Here’s to Larry and all he has done to make Berklee the best music college in the world, and for personally enriching all of our lives along the way.

Tom Riley


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  1. Larry is one of very few people who knows my real name “Toru”
    He helped me so much when I was applying for the U.S. permanent residency Green card in 1977. Thank you, Larry!

    Also I was so happy to bring him to Koyo school of music in Kobe, Japan in 1996, later Koyo became one of Berklee’s BIN schools. Originally he was scheduled to visit Koyo for the first time in January 1995 and actually he was in Tokyo getting ready to visit Kobe but he saw the terrible news on t.v. about the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit Kobe in the morning of his travel day to Kobe. Unfortunately school was damaged, all the trains and the communication systems were completely shut down, in result we were forced to postpone our plan.

    But his passion kept Koyo’s dreams come alive later. All the fun things we have done together will stay in me forever with a big smile.

    Thank you for what you have done for the great relationships between Berklee and many music schools in the world.

    Toru “Tiger” Okoshi

  2. Bill Pierce

    Larry Monroe has been a friend and mentor to me since my undergraduate days at Berklee. I might not have gotten into teaching had it not been for Larry. Larry exemplifies the best of what Berklee is about. I have a great deal of respect for Larry. His wit and intellect is sharp and precise. I have learned a great deal from Larry. He is one of a kind and I truly mean that.

  3. Kevin McCluskey

    As a young student coming to Berklee in the 1970’s it was people such as you that let me know I “wasn’t in Kansas anymore”. You were, and are, a jazzman and all sorts of strange and wonderful sounds came out of your axe. I learned how to “hang”, “shed”, “blow changes”, and “play the head”.

    My country and bluegrass roots went chromatic. I tossed the capo and learned how to play in Gb, ’cause that was easier than F#!

    Thanks for everything you’ve done Larry – keep playing.


  4. Larry Monroe is an outstanding musician, saxophonist, teacher, composer and arranger and leader. Like so many of us, I’ve been lucky enough to have learned from him, worked for him and with him, and played music with him since I was young. During Larry’s career, he has opened the doors of study, performance, composition and teaching for countless musicians. Many thanks for all of your help, support and for your music, Larry.
    Jim Odgren

  5. I’ve gotten to know Larry Monroe “late in the game” as it were, as I’ve worked for him these last two summers at the Berklee Clinics in Umbria. I’ve learned a lot from his teaching and leadership style. I’m thankful that he (and Scott DeOgburn and the other fine faculty) took a chance on hiring me for the program. He really cares about his fellow faculty and their contributions (he was particularly kind to me when I was down for the count for a couple days in the hospital), and has a special place in his heart (I believe) for the Umbria program, which is evident in the work he puts in, both teaching and mentoring. Larry, with his combination of playing, writing, teaching, and administrative skill, is one of the foundations upon which Berklee was built, and we would do well to refer to his example of excellence as we progress into Berklee’s future.

  6. maggie scott

    Everything I could and would say has already been said,and then some.Honestly,who else would I learn and perform “Sand in My Shoes’ for!!!

    Enjoy and much health and happiness to you and Rita!!!


  7. maggie scott

    Perseverance,devotion and dedication to teaching and performing are all personification of who you are and stand for.

    Thank you,keep swingin’!!


  8. I had a comment up here that appears to be missing, but let me just say I’m grateful that Larry (and Scott DeOgburn and the rest of the Jazz at Umbria faculty) took a chance on me and hired me to teach at that program the last two years. I’ve learned a lot from Larry’s examples as a fine teacher and administrator, and from his astute critiques of music and art. Thanks for your tutelage, Larry, and for your hard work making Berklee everything it is today.

  9. John Ramsay

    Thirty years ago when I first came to Berklee to teach Larry Monroe gave me the first gig II ever had in Boston. It was a very extravagant wedding at a very elegant country club on Cape Cod. Being new to the area I really knew very little about travel time or navigating local routes (we certainly didn’t have GPS back then!) and after being hopelessly lost and driving in circles for what seemed like forever, I arrived at the gig and began setting up in the middle of the band as they were well into the middle of the first set. And there were some heavy hitters on that gig like Andy McGhee!
    I’ll never forget how gracious and kind Larry was in the midst of my embarrassment. He never held it against me and we still continue to play together all these years later. Larry has been most supportive and a critical part of all my success at Berklee over the years and for that I am eternally grateful to him. Thank You Larry!

  10. Larry Monroe is perhaps one of the most important contributors to the Berklee legacy. Hands down one of the corner stones of our institute. Great musician, educator, administrator and mentor. Many of his ideas, fore sights and implementations of logical musical ideas are the reason Berklee has the reputation that it has today! He’ll be greatly missed from the education scene, but will undoubtedly move forward as a great human being.
    Good luck Larry and thanks for everything!!

  11. Ross Bresler

    I am probably one of the only people in this group that does not know Larry through his musical talents, but through his powerful generosity as a listener and compelling story teller.

    The respect and admiration I have for him comes from many evenings out and about talking about life, art, culture, and the history of Berklee.

    I have come to know Larry as a passionate, incessantly curious individual who has devoted his life to exploring the world, being open to new ideas, and seeking out inspiration in a diverse range of cultural experiences.

    I can only hope to carry that kind of openness and multi faceted passion in my own life…


  12. We owe a great debt to Larry for his incredible commitment to the students, the teaching and the music. From my early days at Berklee, I knew Larry to be a special person. Thankfully, I had the chance to learn much from him, as well as being able to contribute to what he established.

    This summer we held the first Berklee International Network Summit at the new campus in Valencia, Spain. It was attend by many of the partner institutions Larry help to establish, along with a number of new institutions — many of whom where students of his. It was brilliant to witness this congress of institutional music leaders and educators following in the path the Larry blazed.

    Thank you Larry!

  13. Damien Bracken

    Larry represents Berklee in the world with dignity, global perspective, diplomacy and grace in a manner that ignited Lee Berk’s vision to build an International Network of Schools that could support Berklee’s efforts to recruit internationally. Most importantly, his obvious dedication to music and musicians all over the world is manifest in his unmistakable Alto sound, commanding respect from the global music community and clearing the way for ongoing collaboration with existing and future international partners. To the extent that Berklee has a remarkably strong brand around the world, Larry Monroe is the personification of that brand, bringing insight, acuity, musical and personal enrichment for those with whom he engages.

  14. Ivan Sever

    During one of Berklee’s trip to my homeland, Larry took me under his wing and showed me there was much more to teaching than just being in a classroom.

    Thanks Larry and good luck!

  15. Jan Shapiro

    There is so much to say about Larry Monroe as an educator , leader and mentor.
    When I first came to teach at Berklee I will always remember Larry’s encouragement and support as a new voice teacher at Berklee.
    I remember attending the Division Education meetings with Larry at the helm . Such vision and insight.
    I was so fortunate to work with Larry on some of my musical projects . I learned much from his example as a musician but also as a leader in solving problems.
    Larry I still love your playing and thank you so much for being my mentor as a teacher and particularly as Chair.
    You are the best and we will miss you!

  16. Scott Free

    I have known Larry Monroe since the first semester I attended Berklee, 40 years ago. He was a mentor to those fortunate people who studied with him as an arranging teacher, saxophonist, arranger/composer, and educator. When I was applying to graduate school, Larry helped me with my preparations, taking extra time to guide me and to oversee my work.
    He has done so much for the faculty and students to make Berklee the vibrant place that it is. There are not adequate words to express my appreciation, but I will say thank you, Larry for all that you have done. I hope you have a great time in a much deserved retirement.

  17. Larry has always been a supporter of trying new things at Berklee. He helped me so often back in the 70’s when I wanted to start a Country Music Ensemble or get a book published. I always felt he was in my corner and that meant a lot to a Rock/Country/Pop player who felt out of place in this Jazz college.
    From our “deep” conversations at the old Newbury Steak House to a wonderful trip to Japan to teach with the Berklee faculty Larry has been a friend and an inspiration.
    Good luck in your retirement and keep writing and playing. Thanks for the memories.

  18. Rob Hayes

    When I came to Berklee in 1992, I’d already travelled internationally
    for business, and spent a fair amount of time navigating the parallel universe of musicians. Berklee was not my first rodeo. That all said,
    seeing Larry in action on the hilltop in Perugia was an eye-opener.
    Hundreds of details, overly excited people, auditions, charts, choosing just the right wine… Larry had the measure of it all. My first three days in Umbria were a crash course in two subjects: functioning effectively in a different and (mostly) very pleasant culture, and wielding the power of the Berklee name in ways that worked and made sense.

    I have learned alot from Larry in the last two decades; I’m certain he has no idea how much, or any inkling of the store I have always put by his opinion, and the way he operates. Very much indebted to you, Godfather.

  19. Bob Tamagni

    With my deepest regret, I will not be able to be part of the tribute concert for Larry due to a previous engagement. Larry not only hired me, but I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to many corners of the world and creating music with him. I’ve learned many things from Larry….from music, to international diplomacy, to how to choose tequila. I feel honored to know him as a teacher, a band mate, a travel companion, and a colleague. But most of all I cherish him as a friend. His contributions are a very large part of why Berklee is! Best in the future. –Bobby T.

  20. Bob Tamagni

    With my deepest regret, I will not be able to be part of the tribute concert for Larry due to a previous engagement. Larry not only hired me, but I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to many corners of the world and creating music with him. I’ve learned many things from Larry….from music, to international diplomacy, to how to choose tequila. I feel honored to know him as a teacher, a band mate, a travel companion, and a colleague. But most of all I cherish him as a friend. His contributions are a large part of why Berklee is. Thank you and all the best, –Bobby T.

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