Post by Jason Camelio, director of international programs.

Ronan Guilfoyle is a force in the world of music. In addition to being a world-class bassist, composer and educator, he is the founder and artistic director of the Newpark Music Centre just outside of Dublin.  His deep passion for music and music education, intense studiousness and brilliant wit have taken Newpark from its start in 1979 to its current status as a top institution for contemporary music education. 

Newpark has been affiliated with Berklee since 1996 when then vice president for international programs Larry Monroe made his first official visit.  Over these past 16 years Newpark has evolved its programs to include full and part-time courses, a Bachelors of Jazz Performance course and the Berklee Track — which allows students to transfer their credits to Berklee upon completion of their studies there.  Newpark is a Berklee International Network partner institution with a credit transfer agreement.  In recently years, they have even hosted our Berklee on the Road events.

These details are an important preface to the very special visit we made to Newpark in February.  In addition to the clinics, auditions and a faculty concert, we had the opportunity to have Larry Monroe join us.  Our visit coincided with a music showcase for emerging young talent in Europe called the 12-Points Festival.  Ronan took this opportunity to schedule a live interview and discussion with Larry at the National Concert Hall in Dublin.  The discussion focused on Berklee College of Music and Origins of Jazz Education.  Along with a detailed discussion that covered the expanse of contemporary music education at Berklee and the college’s work abroad, we were also treated to a solo performance by recent Berklee alumnus and Presidential Scholar Nikolas Anadolis from Greece.  Niko was one of the artists being featured at the 12-Points Festival.

Lello Molinari works out with Newpark Music Centre students on odd-meter playing.

The Berklee team making the visit to Newpark was comprised of professor of ensembles, bassist/composer Lello Molinari, associate director of scholarships Oisin McAuley and I in addition to Larry.  For the week my colleagues and I were treated to some amazing discussions about the history and future of music education.  The banter between Larry and Ronan was priceless.  Lello presented an excellent performance master class on odd-meter playing and metric modulations featuring a Newpark student ensemble.  Larry’s session covered the range of techniques and approaches student should consider in their practice routines as performers and improvisors.  Both sessions were standing room only at Newpark’s new facility in Dun Laoghiare.  I was afforded the opportunity to sit in with the faculty group that included guitarist Tommy Halferty and drummer Kevin Brady.  We closed the week out with some excellent audition and interviews from very talented musicians from Newpark and the region.

Berklee and Newpark at Tribes in Dun Laoghaire (L-R) John Walsh, Tommy Halferty, Patrice Brun, Ronan Guilfoyle, Jason Camelio, Lello Molinari and Larry Monroe.

In the one week we were at Newpark, we accomplished a great deal.  We had the chance to see and engage in excellent presentations and discussions, high level playing and support a top-notch EU festival.  This is a small glimpse at the vibrant music scene in Dublin and the important educational institutional Newpark has become.  I strongly encourage readers to keep an eye on Ronan’s and Newpark’s work.  They always have something special brewing in Dublin.