Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: Jessica Huber (Page 1 of 7)

Musically and beyond…

This blog post was authored by Joanne Dill, Project Manager in the Berklee City Music office.

A long line forms to meet Ms. Patrice Rushen, after her ACI seminar with Berklee’s first-year students. She is generous with her time, giving each student personal advice. When she sits with us to talk about Berklee City Music, she’s shocked that BCM is already celebrating its 20th year.

In Patrice’s words, “BCM is a program that supports the idea that you need to want to be excellent. “ She has exemplified this idea in a big way as a successful musical director, composer, and performer.

Patrice speaks in depth about BCM, its important role in music education, and how contemporary music is key to reaching youth. “We must understand what they like and how it relates to them. When you have their interest, they can make connections to other things.”

The Berklee City Music Network Conference in Memphis, “American Popular Music: The Untold Story “ will focus on precisely those issues, with expert speakers in the field of music education.  Educators and administrators will explore themes on providing access to a quality and diverse music education for students in underserved communities across the country.

As our program grows, Berklee City Music aims to provide more opportunity for young students who will grow musically and beyond.

“If you are doing what you are meant to do, you have the opportunity to matter.”

-Patrice Rushen



Letter from the BCMN Executive Director

 We asked J. Curtis Warner, Jr., Executive Director of Berklee City Music/Associate VP of Education Outreach to recap his thoughts on this year’s Scholarship Concert.  The program was also featured in the Chronicle News which aired 8/17/2012.
2012 Berklee City Music Scholarship Concert

This year’s Scholarship Concert was the official kick-off that ushered City Music into its 20th year. Numerous City Music alumni returned to the fold, to honor and perform with our summer scholars from 19 City Music Network sites across the country, all of whom attended the Five-Week Summer Performance Program on full scholarship. Among our illustrious alums were Los Angeles’ Deanna Dellacioppa, winner of Fox Network’s “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” Ashley Rodriguez, who is currently on tour with Melanie Fiona, and Tuffus Zimbabwe, keyboardist for Saturday Night Live. Many other alumni performed and lent their spirit as part of our audience, such as Amanda Cannata (PhD candidate, Stanford University), Nichelle Mungo (Berklee Faculty), Bryan Abreu (New York-based producer), Abria Smith (actress, author, singer/songwriter) and Danny McClain (vocalist, songwriter, Earth Wind & Fire, Philip Bailey).

The concert featured seven bands ranging from rock to pop, jazz and hip hop. All of the students gave outstanding performances. An additional highlight was a performance by Kris Allen, American Idol Season 8 winner and Berklee City Music ambassador. Last year, a City Music Boston ensemble accompanied Kris on the road for a three City/State tour under the direction of Berklee professor Marty Walsh. At the Scholarship Concert, Kris performed once again under Walsh’s direction, along with the Five-Week Pop/Rock Ensemble. Other performances by City Music Five-Week ensembles included the R&B Ensemble directed by Winston Maccow, Jazz Ensemble directed by Mike Tucker, Hip Hop/R&B Ensemble directed by Alonzo Harris, Big Band Ensemble directed by Bobby Gallegos, City Music Choir directed by Nichelle Mungo and Bandilicious Ensemble directed by George Russell, Jr.

Kris Allen at Berklee City Music Scholarship Concert 2012

Kris Allen at Berklee City Music Scholarship Concert 2012

The true stars, of course, were the Five-Week students themselves. In fact a few students stirred up quite a bit of post-concert inquiries as to where they are from, how old they are and how long they have been at their craft. Among those were vocalists Robert Gould from Little Five Points in Atlanta and Quinton A. Monteiro from Lincoln Park in Midland, PA, pianist Ayinde Williams and trumpeter Drew Anderson from Richmond Youth Jazz Guild in Richmond, Virginia, and bassist Christoff Glaude and vocalist Rebecca Demmellash from Berklee City Music in Boston.

Midway through the concert, what some have referred to as “City Music’s version of the Grammys” took place, with the awarding of 16 full four-year City Music College Scholarships. I’d like to congratulate all of our scholarship earners and the Network member sites who aided them on the road to achieving this great feat. “And the winners are” (appearing in alphabetical order):

  • Khari Alamin, Stax Music Academy, Memphis, TN
  • Jabril Barnes, The Music Settlement, Cleveland, OH
  • Brian Benton, The Music Settlement, Cleveland, OH
  • Wendy Chung, Berklee City Music Boston
  • John Dandan, East Bay Center For the Performing Arts, Richmond, CA
  • Eli Dawson, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Robert Gould, Little 5 Points Music Center, Atlanta, GA
  • Danielle John, Berklee City Music Boston
  • Tamina Johnson-Lawson, A Place Called Home, Los Angeles, CA
  • Charina Kimes, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Langston Maxwell, The Music Settlement, Cleveland, OH
  • Rachel McLean, Berklee City Music Boston
  • Matthew Pitts, Berklee City Music Boston
  • Emily Ronna, Berklee City Music Boston
  • Langston Theard, Tipitina’s Foundation, New Orleans, LA
  • VanDarrel Woods, The Music Settlement, Cleveland, OH


2012 Berklee City Music Scholarship Concert

2012 Berklee City Music Scholarship winners

If you didn’t have a chance to join us at this year’s concert, either in person or via video stream, click here and enjoy.

This is the piece that Chronicle put together all about Berklee City Music:

This summer has been going by quickly as I’m sure many of you would agree.  While I was able to see some of you at this year’s PULSE Training Institute and at our Scholarship Concert, I look forward to seeing many more of you at our upcoming Berklee City Music Network Conference, October 29-31, hosted by our partner Stax Music Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.  Until then, I remain:

Yours truly,

J. Curtis Warner Jr.
Associate Vice President, Education Outreach
Executive Director, Berklee City Music
Berklee College of Music
Direct line: 617 747-2654
Fax: 617 747-2875

BCMN’s First-Ever Bilingual Edition ¡Saludos!

Berklee City Music Network Site Feature & Interview with

Two Students from La Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina

Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina is dedicated to encouraging the children of Carolina, Puerto Rico who possess skill and interest in the arts to develop their talent to its fullest potential. In addition to programs in the fine arts, dance and theater, Bellas Artes offers students musical instruction, a variety of ensembles that explore jazz, classical, and bomba, and performance opportunities at local schools and community venues.

Under the stewardship of Director Luis Rodriguez and with music teacher Angel Vigo’s active and engaged collaboration with Berklee City Music, Bellas Artes continues to foster students’ engagement with the arts as well as their own community.
La Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina se dedica a alentar a los niños de Carolina, Puerto Rico que poseen habilidades e interés en las artes, para desarrollar su talento en su máximo potencial.  Además de los programas de bellas artes, danza y teatro, se ofrece a los estudiantes instrucción musical, así como también se les otorga la oportunidad de formar parte de ensambles que exploran jazz, música clásica y bomba. Se les da oportunidades para que interpreten y/o ejecuten la música de sus ensambles en escuelas locales y en escenarios de la comunidad.

Bajo la administración del Director Luis Rodriguez y con la colaboración comprometida del maestro de música Angel Vigo y de Berklee City Music, la Escuela de Bellas Artes continuá fomentando el compromiso de los estudiantes con las artes, así como su propia comunidad.

-Each year the music program at Bellas Artes welcomes approximately 125 new students ages eight and older into the program, for a total of roughly 420 music students. That’s more than half of Bellas Artes’ total enrollment!
-Cada año, el programa de música de Bellas Artes da la bienvenida a aproximadamente 125 nuevos estudiantes mayores de siete años, albergando un total de aproximadamente 420 estudiantes de música.

-Music programs include band, orchestra, bell choir, jazz ensemble, string ensemble, choir, jazz workshop, and bomba workshop, as well as private lessons in a variety of instruments. Many students also concentrate on the cuatro, the traditional Puerto Rican lute.
-Los programas de música incluyen banda, orquesta, ensamble de jazz, “bell choir,” coro, ensamble de cuerdas, clínicas de jazz y clínicas de bomba, así como instrucción privada en una variedad muy amplia de instrumentos. Muchos estudiantes también se focalizan en el “cuatro,” el “laúd” tradicional de Puerto Rico.

-All students participate in choir and receive music theory instruction from the time they enroll at Bellas Artes.
-Todos los estudiantes forman parte del coro, y reciben educación en teoría musical desde que ingresan al programa de Bellas Artes.

-Classes at Bellas Artes are free, and students are only responsible for the registration fee.
-Las clases en Bellas Artes son gratis; los estudiantes son responsables por la cuota de inscripción solamente.

Willian J. Suarez Pereira (left), was born in Venezuela, but he lives in Puerto Rico and his main focus is the guitar, and plays a little bit of piano and drums. Enrique Serrano Cruz (right), born in Puerto Rico, plays the percussion, the congas, timbales, bongos and a little bit of vibraphone.

Willian J. Suarez Pereira nació en Venezuela pero vive en Puerto Rico y se enfoca principalmente en la guitarra, y toca un poco de piano y batería. Enrique Serrano Cruz nació en Puerto Rico; toca las percusiones, las congas, timbales, bongós y un poco de vibráfono.

How was your experience at Five-Week?
It was more than what we imagined, it was about learning so much in so short a time. The body and the blood are asking us to stay a little bit longer.

Fue mucho más de lo que esperabamos, fue aprender mucho en muy poco tiempo. El cuerpo y la sangre nos piden quedarnos un poco más.

Tell us what you learned?
Willian learned to work with other musicians from around the world, improved his guitar technique, increased his knowledge of theory and also his musicality while Enrique says he he learned a lot about new percussion styles, learned how to play drums, and also the “Moveable Do.”

Willian nos comenta que lo que más aprendió fue el trabajar con otros músicos así como el haber mejorado su técnica, aumentado su conocimiento de teoría, así como su musicalidad. Enrique nos dice que aprendió mucho al conocer otros estilos de percusión, pudo aprender un poco de batería, así como acerca del “Do movible.”

Tell us your thoughts on Boston
Enrique doesn’t want to leave Boston. Emilio says that in this city there is always something happening, you can’t stay in your house all the time. “We love Boston, we would love to live here”

Enrique no quiere irse de Boston. Mientras Emilio afirma que lo que más le gusta de Boston es que siempre hay algo que hacer, siempre hay algo sucediendo, no puedes quedarte en tu casa todo el tiempo. “Nos encanta Boston, nos encantaría vivir aquí” afirman los estudiantes de Puerto Rico.

What do you want to tell your network site and family and friends back home?
Enrique says that if there was another word to say ‘Thank you”, he would say it. “Thank You!” to all my friends and relatives that support me.  I owe everything to GOD, he gave me this talent. Willian suggests to his friends from his network to apply to the 5 week, at least just audition for it.  He says there is a lot of talent at their site. About Berklee City Music both of them confess that City music is a joyful experience.

“City Music is a Blessing.  City Music is full of blessings.”

Enrique nos comenta que si hubiera otra palabra para decir Gracias, la diría. ¡Gracias!  a todos nuestros amigos y familiars que nos dieron el apoyo. Todo se lo debo a Dios, El fue quien nos dió este talento. Willian les recomienda a sus amigos de su red, quienes son muy buenos músicos, que probaran el 5-week, o que por lo menos audicionaran para ir al 5 week. Acerca de Berklee City Music, City Music es una experiencia gratificante.

“City Music es una bendición, City Music son bendiciones.”

Wattstax Revisited: 40 Years in the Making

Wattstax was a historic event of soul music and soul solidarity featuring Stax
Records’ legendary roster of artists. This seven-hour concert, hailed as the “Afro-
American answer to Woodstock,” was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in
1972 in response to the Watts riots in LA. It was a peaceful, astounding, and vivid
celebration of self-expression and self-respect and allowed viewers to glimpse the
musical brilliance of the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Kim Weston, Johnnie Taylor,
the Bar-Kays, Isaac Hayes, and Albert King.

The students of Stax Music Academy, a Berklee City Music Network site, celebrated
the 40th anniversary of Wattstax and the upcoming 20th anniversary of Berklee City
Music in a special live performance at the Berklee Performance Center on July 17th.
Grammy Award-winning artist Kirk Whalum also performed with the students,
bringing a blend of blues, gospel, funk, and soul to New England.

The Stax Music Academy is a unique learning center in Memphis that inspires
young people and enhances their academic, cognitive, performance, and leadership
skills by utilizing music with a strong focus on the rich legacy and tradition of Stax
Records. Founded in 2000 with 125 young people, it has helped changed the lives of
thousands of children since. Former Summer Soul Tour performances have included
Lincoln Center in New York City, Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Kennedy Center
in Washington, D. C, and tours of Italy and Australia.

For more background, a powerful documentary, “Wattstax” (1973) by Mel Stuart
focuses on the 1972 Wattstax music festival and the African American community of
Watts in Los Angeles, California.

BPC Photo Credit: Jandro Cisneros

Anthony Steele, Berklee City Music alumni, performs for the “BET Music Matters Tour”

Last Tuesday, Anthony Steele, Berklee City Music alumni, performed for the “BET Music Matters Tour” in New York City.

Anthony said:

“Upon getting the call I was very much excited to experience something different on a great stage for a great cause. Every time I’m blessed with opportunities it always makes me see the bigger picture of why I started playing music [with my] passion, hunger, and the continual desire to “Do what you love for your career.””

BET’s Music Matters is a campaign that highlights the next BET superstars through music, bios, videos, photos and intimate interviews where the artists explain who they are and what music means to them.

Anthony’s professional education comes from the Community Music Center of Boston, the Boston Arts Academy High School, and Berklee College of Music, from which he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Performance in 2006.  He is a recipient of numerous awards and accolades.  Some of which include being named the “Best of Boston” in 2002, in addition to receiving a Musician Citation for Performance at the International Association for Jazz Educators (IAJE) Festival in 2001.

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