Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: ctypadis

Berklee in Cape Verde: 2013 Kriol Jazz Festival

After our concert @ Kriol Jazz Fest. After watching us play, Mayor Ulisses Correia E. Silva came to greet us and take pictures

At the Mayor’s Office when we had one of our meetings/gathering. The band pictured is the Gangbe Brass Band from Benin, Africa – they also played at the Kriol Jazz Festival



By: Christine Typadis and Alexander Toth

Berklee touched down in Cape Verde in mid April!  This amazing trio including, Chair of the Ensemble Department, Ron Savage, Professor Jetro da Silva and current student Bassist
Alexander Toth performed at the festival, conducted clinics at the University of Cape Verde and exchanged their musical spirits as they learn about the culture and music of this region.  The fifth edition of Kriol Jazz Festival was held on April 10th to the 13th and it is brought by a partnership between the City of Praia and Harmonia, Lda.  Thanks to the support of the Kriol Jazz festival organizers and Harold Tavares, this was great opportunity for musical exchange!

The international reputation of KJF has grown much throughout the years. It is a scene of Creole inspiration, gathering artists from Cape Verde, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and Africa, also interacting with American and European music, a fusion called Creole Jazz. 

Numerous international artists, producers, media and specialized press reps from different countries have already taken part to the festival. In 2012 and 2013, Kriol Jazz Festival is recognized listed in the top 25 best world music festivals by British magazine Songlines, confirming KJF is on the good path in becoming a main reference in the network of world music festivals.

After our workshop @ Casa da Musicada, University of Cape Verde

Discovering Cape Verde

From the road…

Alexander Toth is in his last semester here at Berklee and gives us his perspective of his travels and first impressions of Cape Verde. What a way to wrap up the spring semester before he walks in about a week for graduation.  Congratulations Alexander!

   “I’m sitting here in Boston about one week after a life changing musical and cultural experience I had in beautiful Cape Verde.  The Ron Savage Trio was invited to perform at the 2013 Kriol Jazz festival.  On the map it seemed like such a long way from home but the flight felt pretty short.  After stepping off the plane we were greeted by hot sunshine and warm people with a scenic ride to the city of Praia, Santiago.

Ron Savage Trio playing at festival

Day one, we dove straight in, checking out the traditional Cape Verdean music and exhibits at the Atlantic Music Expo.  Ron Savage and Jetro Da Silva were interviewed by the local Radio Station.  Later on in the week the band had an unforgettable time performing at the Festival.  We played in front of an endless stream of enthusiastic audience members.  Though our set was quite different from what the locals usually hear, the concert was very well received and unique in the sense that some say they had never even seen an upright bass up close before.  It was also a new experience for me to assist the trio in conducting a workshop at the University of Cape Verde.  Traditional Jazz language along with the “12 bar blues” was discussed, as well as my audition experience and the time I spent at Berklee.  It was a great pleasure to know that the workshop had a huge impact.  We met many talented musicians both at the workshop and Jazz Festival.

Aside from performing and meetings, we had the opportunity to get to know so many friendly people who carry a typical Island vibe that is familiar to me coming from Trinidadian roots.  It was gratifying to not only have met the Mayor of Praia Ulisses Correia E. Silva, but also the President of Cape Verde Jorge Carlos Fonseca who both also attended our concert.  We also had the opportunity to meet with the US Ambassador Adrienne O’Neal during our visit.  We had a most memorable day when we visited “Cidade Velha” or the “Old City”, which is the oldest settlement in Cape Verde.  It was such a deep cultural experience, as it was the first place to be colonized by the Portuguese, and the main port of Africa during the slave trade.

Although we had a busy schedule, we were fortunate enough to enjoy the beach and tasty seafood, along with jamming with the local musicians at night.  I even found some time to pick up some Portuguese and Kriol!! It was nice to trade the offices and practice rooms for the outdoor café “Sophia’s”, where we had many gatherings and great conversation.

I am truly honored to have had opportunity of representing Berklee College of Music with the Ron Savage Trio on this trip to Cape Verde.  The memories will last forever!! My deepest gratitude to all of the warm Cape Verdean people I have met, and also a special thanks to Ron Savage and Jetro Da Silva.



For more information about the KJF, follow this link.




X Factor Milan. A Factor of Life. Not Just a Coincidence.

By: Christine Typadis and Cristina Vaira

Cristina Vaira, a fifth semester student majoring in songwriting and originally from Milan Italy received a call from X Factor Milan asking her to participate in the audition of a TV show in Milan, Italy. X Factor is an Italian television music competition to find new singing talent; the winner receives a 300,000 recording contract with Sony Music.

Cristina received an email from a representative of the Magnolia Production, a tv company that produces a TV program called X Factor.  She states, “The team said they found a couple of videos of mine in YouTube where she was singing her original songs. Because he liked my performance, he asked if I was interested in doing the audition for X Factor 2012.” She completed an initial audition and then wanted her to take a second one. They shot several videos of her singing and took some interviews as well. The tv shows production company called to say they were very impressed by her performances and that they wanted her back for the next phase of TV, where she’d be asked to audition in front of four judges and an audience.

Cristina had mixed emotions about the incredible news.  She was excited about this opportunity, but sad in the same moment because she knew that her parents wouldn’t have a way to afford an unscheduled trip back to Italy. Feeling a bit discouraged, a friend told Cristina she should ask Berklee for help. Brilliant! Cristina then contacted the Office of International Programs with her proposal. To her surprise what she thought was a phone call turned into an opportunity, something she couldn’t see materialize in that one phone call. Within days, her flights were booked and she was off to Milan for unexpected but fruitful journey.

Bright and excited about the opportunity, she was thrilled at her chance for the X-factor audition. Then, all factors from the moment leaving Boston to arriving in Milan went wrong. Flights were canceled; sickness; tired from 18 hours of travel; overbooking and lost baggage. Eventually she made it – one day later. Each factor affected the next course of events.

Cristina remarks that they asked her to sing “If It Makes You Happy” by Sheryl Crow.  The song is challenging — starting very low and rising in the chorus.  “After I did the sound-check, I asked to the engineer to raise the volume for the beginning, but he said that the rules of the show doesn’t allow to change to level of the mic! Cristina states. “I couldn’t believe that he said that, but in that moment I didn’t say anything to him and that was a huge mistake for me because he really compromised my performance later,” continues Vaira. “I’ve learnt that a good sound-check can make the difference in a performance and that I shouldn’t be condescending with people just to not bother them if I don’t get the sound that can increase the value of my performance!”

Cristina explains, “For those who are performers, in my opinion, if you’re looking to check out television, the main point I’d like to emphasize is that TV rules can be highly dramatic and exaggerated. You need to know a lot about television, whether that is X Factor, American Idol, shows like this.  If you don’t know this show and how they act and what they are looking for, it’s pretty hard to enter this area.  You can be a victim in this environment if you don’t know the rules.  This is what I learned about this type of competition.” Cristina adds, “I saw Miss Italy be in this audition and she was the first performer of the day. I was the only one who came from another continent and while I was there I could barely stay awake and they call me to perform at 10 pm — after 12 hours I waited in the same room without any possibilities to go out!! After me there was just 2 people and we were 50!”

What Cristina realized that maybe this call wasn’t her debut or hit song, but this opportunity made her grow as a musician and helped her to learn about herself. Even if the competition did not go her way. Cristina states, “Maybe my destiny was not to go in the show, but probably to finish Berklee.  That, so far, is the most concrete thing that is leading me to build a career in the music field.”  Cristina goes on to say” “…when I put together the factors that I experienced, I came up with a few things to pass on to my fellow travelling musicians. Make the call back and go for it. When someone or something finds you, find the courage to believe in that.”

Take the good with the bad. Check

Book a day earlier. Check

Good sound check. Check

Be prepared. Check

Rest. Check

Expect the worst, do your best. Check




Copyright © 2024 Berklee College of Music