Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: mkowalski

Five-Week Vocal Night 2012


The finest singers of the 2012 Five Week came together this past Monday evening to present a Vocal Showcase at the Berklee Performance Center. Christiane Karam’s Middle Eastern ensemble kicked off the evening in style, dressed in brightly colored Balkan outfits. The ensemble was comprised of a small group of vocalists with a Western rhythm section, supplemented by traditional Middle Eastern instruments. They performed their repertoire, which is notably complex in rhythm and harmony, with extraordinary confidence and musicality.

The next group to take the stage was the Five Week Chorus, directed by Lucy Holstedt. The lively group performed two original tunes by Ms. Holstedt, as well as Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.” Their rousing performance thoroughly engaged the audience, who clapped along with all of the songs.

Next, the audience was transported to Broadway by the Musical Theater ensemble. Their performance filled up the entire theater, as the actors, not confined to the stage, performed walking through the aisles of the hall. Powerhouse vocals paired with compelling acting skills made this an enthralling performance.

Ken Zambello’s Singers’ Showcase closed out the show. The best contemporary vocalists of the program, chosen by a competitive audition process, rocked the BPC. They were accompanied by an all-star rhythm section and background vocalists, and performed in styles including R&B , pop, and jazz.

This incredible show was a testament to the diverse and high-level talent that the Five Week program attracts. We look forward to watching the careers of these musicians take off!

How To Work While They Play: The Business of Music Summer Program 2012

Ryan Giammo, of Punta Gorda, FL, will begin his second semester at Berklee in the fall. His principal instrument is guitar and he is studying for a degree in music education. Ryan works in the Office of Summer Programs as a student employee.

The students poured into recital hall 1A at the 1140 Boylston Street building to begin their first class in the Business of Music summer program.  Jackie Indrisano, the booking agent and venue manager of Café 939’s Red Room, started it all off with her presentation “Taking It To The Streets.” She expressed a very realistic and straightforward perspective on the music industry to the students. She made a resounding statement, “Music creates the whole vibe of the venue. It’s not really a person but a personality.” This rings true; venue managers have to take their venue’s personality into consideration when looking for bands to book. Musicians provide the entertainment, while the business people [the managers, booking agents, PR reps, etc.] use their skills to expose musicians to the mainstream. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, and she went in depth regarding how each can work with the other to boost each other higher up on the industry ladder. 

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In My Own Words: Bass Lines 2012

Billy Smolen, of Glen Ridge, NJ, shares about his experience at Berklee’s Bass Lines program. Bass Lines is a summer program that brings together bassists of all styles for three days of learning, networking, and jamming. This year’s Bass Lines program took place from June 8-10.

How long have you been playing the bass?

It’s been around three years since I first picked it up, but only two since I began seriously practicing.

What is your favorite style of music to play?

Picking a favorite style is a tough choice, but I guess I’d have to say funk. There’s something so fun and rhythmic about it, and I definitely got to play a lot of it at Berklee!

How did you hear about Bass Lines? What made you want to attend?

I was looking online for a summer program to enroll in, and a close friend of mine is a student at Berklee. He gave it his highest recommendation, and I’ve always known the schools reputation for being one of the best music schools in the country, so I couldn’t say no.

What was the most interesting thing you learned at Berklee?

In the four days I was at the school, I learned so much. The people were amazing, talented, and supportive, from [the students] attending the program to the staff. I think the most interesting thing I learned was simply how much there is to be learned, and how many people have the same musical mindset that I have. From theory classes with new exercises and practice routines, to learning how to listen and collaborate with other musicians in an ensemble setting, I was constantly reminded of my own drive to grow as a musician. It amazed me to see that everyone else felt the same way. This was one of the most musically supportive things I’ve ever experienced, whether purely as a bass player, a musician, or a person. I’ll never forget it.

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