Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Carlos Ballester (Page 1 of 3)

MUSIC MOVES US – reflections on the XIII Latin Grammy Awards by Sophie Maricq

Sophie Maricq is the Communications Manager for Global Initiatives. She´s a Berklee alumna and has been working closely on the Berklee College of Music – Valencia campus project.


On the flight from Boston to Vegas, I started to think about what I would want to write about during my trip. The fact of flying to another city for Berklee reminded me of my previous journey’s that got me here.

Berklee Valencia Latin Grammys 1

I remember flying to Barcelona for my Berklee audition a few years ago. When I got to the Liceo I was excited, nervous, physically exhausted but so energized, ready for the next challenge in my life. When it was my turn and I was asked to enter the room I felt at home. Three gentlemen greeted me, made me feel comfortable and with a smile, Greg Badolato said “you have nothing to worry about, just sing” and so I did! Then I had my interview with Tod Oliviere and remember saying I heard about the Berklee in Valencia project and really wanted to be involved in it, although at that time it was still not a fact. It is such a wonder and a pleasure to be working closely with them now, and also be so involved in the Valencia project. After weeks of expectation and checking all the cables and plugs in the house to make sure internet was working and I didn’t miss any emails, I received the acceptance and scholarship letters, I WAS GOING TO BERKLEE!!!

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Madness in Madrid – Música, Museos y Mariscos by Global Studies student Ryan McGonagill

April 25, 2012

This past weekend, the Global Studies students in Valencia took a 3-day trip to Madrid. It was an AMAZING weekend – so busy and packed with tours and presentations, yet we had plenty of time to go off on our own and explore the Spanish capital. We visited multiple museums, took a guided walking tour of Old Madrid, and were invited to EMI Spain for a presentation (to name a few of the many activities from the trip.)

Ryan McGonagill blog Cardamomo

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Viva Madrid by Global Studies Student Kelvin Killmon


Sorry – I’ve fallen a bit behind on my writing lately because we’ve all been so busy. It’s going to be hard to explain everything that’s been happening, but I’ll give it a try…

Recently we took a trip to Madrid on one of Spain’s high-speed trains, and as soon as we’d unloaded our bags at a hostel in the very heart of the city we were whisked off to three days of nearly non-stop activities: Along with plenty of sightseeing, we got to admire paintings by Dali, Goya and Picasso at two of the nation’s finest art galleries. We also went to some flamenco shows and jammed with local musicians at jazz clubs. One afternoon a few people went to go visit Javier Limon at his studios to lay down a track or two…

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Valencia 2012: Ashes & Rain by Global Studies student Kelvin Killmon

Kelvin Killmon blog - Panorama
I’m sure everyone’s Fallas experience was different; I know mine was absolutely unforgettable. I spent five wonderful days wandering around the city admiring the giant effigies, enjoying the ubiquitous smell of fresh churros and porras and the sound of giant firecrackers. At night I was showered in sparks during fire-themed parades, and danced until the sun came up at block parties sponsored by local Casals.
Kelvin Killmon blog - Fire Parade

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Middle Eastern Festival – A Journey to the Mediterranean Crossroads of Cultures by Ziga Pirnat

Last Monday, the Middle Eastern Festival took place at the BPC, joining artists from the Mediterranean region with students from all over the world performing music from their homelands.Those who attended the concert experienced an audible insight into a world of rich and diverse history, and took part in an incredible meeting of the sound of numerous civilizations that have lived and contributed to the unique cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.

Coming from a country on the Mediterranean, I have always felt a bewitching attraction to the music from the region. Listening to the Berklee Balkan choir and their throat singing pieces made last Monday a special experience, as I heard something that sounded so close to home.

However, I had never paid much attention to the intercultural connections and links between styles and musical traditions from the region that is culturally so colorful. I guess I had always thought that they were just too diverse and with just too many different influences to be compared and combined together. Therefore I was a bit skeptical at first about the Middle Eastern festival exploring connections between Flamenco, Arabic, Mediterranean, and Balkan music, also reflecting the journey Gypsies took from India to the Mediterranean. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

The artistic director of Berklee in Valencia‘s Mediterranean Music Institute, Javier Limón, and the Middle Eastern Festival founder, Christiane Karam, did a great job. The primarily flamenco-themed festival titled “Flamenco Today: A Journey Through Andalusia” successfully incorporated and combined sounds from all across the Mediterranean into a beautiful and sound whole. It was at this point that I realized how interconnected this music was. After a mesmerizing three-hour ride through Siguiriya, Andalusian Wasla, Balkan Suite, Mediterranean Soundscape, Tango Flamenco, Peroche and Buleria, it became obvious to me how much all these musical styles have in common.

To think about it, it is really not that surprising. The Mediterranean has always been a place where many civilizations met, a place of migrations, wars, prosperity, large empires and – rich trade. The Greeks had colonies all around the Mediterranean; Alexander the Great established an enormous empire, as well as Romans. Since the destruction of the First Temple, Jewish people have been present all around the region and have left an indispensable contribution in its culture. Arabs dominated the Iberian Peninsula for centuries and their cultural influence was only reduced after the Reconquista, but never ceased to exist, which was also the case with the legacy of the Sephardim after their expulsion in 1492. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire stretched far north into the Balkans, bringing its own cultural contribution and also serving as an intermediary of Arab culture. Gypsies brought their own sound from India and by migrating, they dispersed it through the entire area. The Mediterranean was indeed a crossroads of cultures, where many civilizations have lived or travelled through and each left unique tracks behind them.

The unmatched cultural diversity and heritage of this place makes another argument, why it is so important for Berklee to be present in the region. The words of Sissy Castrogiovanni, a current student of Global Studies at the Berklee Valencia campus, illustrate that vividly: “a great place. Beautiful music, beautiful people.” Simply said, but true. (public domain image)

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