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First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Amanda Gouldthorpe (Page 1 of 2)

Amanda Gouldthorpe

Solidarity and Mutual Understanding Through Music: Esther Rojas Leads “Berklee Rhythm Collective” to Colombia

Berklee student Esther Rojas, a Barranquilla native, was selected by the Office of International Programs to put together a group of students to visit Medellín, Pereira and Manizales, Colombia, as part of a two-week teaching and performing series sponsored by the Colombo-Americano bi-national centers. In her own words below, Esther shares her perspective on the musical and cultural significance of this experience.

The Office of International Programs wishes to thank Esther, Caili, Magnus and Patrick for their incredible professionalism and enthusiasm throughout the event planning and the trip itself. We also are grateful to director of learning support services Pablo Vargas and assistant director of admissions Billy Herron for traveling with the group and supporting Berklee’s outreach efforts in Colombia. A huge thanks also to the dedicated staff at the Colombo-Americano in Medellín and Pereira for making this event a reality.

This is the first entry in a series of the Berklee Rhythm Collective’s student perspectives on this event. Over the next few weeks we’ll hear from the rest of the band, and get a complete picture of this unique and powerful cultural exchange experience.

Student Perspective: Esther Rojas Rodriguez

I had the honor of being selected to coordinate the group that would travel to Colombia this past June, for a two-week program teaching workshops for young musicians and performing in concerts in Medellín, Pereira, and Manizales. I asked Patrick Simard (drums) and Magnus Bakken (sax) if they would be interested in collaborating in this project. Fortunately, they gladly agreed. Later on, at the suggestion of Jason Camelio, Caili O´Doherty – a recent Berklee graduate and a wonderful pianist – joined our group, forming the Berklee Rhythm Collective.

This trip proved to be one of the most valuable and gratifying experiences I have ever had, as for the first time I was given the opportunity to share with my countrymen something that Berklee has taught me.

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Wambura Mitaru Synergy in St. Petersburg and Helsinki

Post authored by Amanda Gouldthorpe, assistant director for Office of International Programs

As I type this I’m traveling across the Russian/Finnish border by train with the Wambura Mitaru Synergy. We’ve traded winter snowscapes in Boston for those in Helsinki, Finland and St. Petersburg, Russia, to be specific. After our flight out of Boston last Friday was canceled due to the blizzard, we finally arrived in Europe on Tuesday night – to quote Wambura herself, “It’s really happening!”

Sebastian Reunert, Wambura Mitaru and Moez Dawad (l to r) perform at the JFC Jazz Club in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sebastian Reunert on guitar and Moez Dawad on hand percussion round out this truly impressive trio who are here to showcase original music and represent Berklee at the 2013 Close Encounters festival, an event designed to bring international students together to share their original music and create new music together. With Wambura hailing from Kenya, Sebastian from South Africa, and Moez from Egypt and Sudan by way of DC, this group brings their African roots front and center with a serious groove that you can’t help but tap your foot to and lyrics that make you sing along – participation encouraged!


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Samantha Schultz Trio at Close Encounters Helsinki-St. Petersburg

“Hei” from the winter wonderland of Helsinki, Finland! I’m here with three Berklee students who are making the most of their experience as part of the Close Encounters Festival this week. The Samantha Schultz Trio, led by Samantha Schultz (vocals, guitar) with Alexander Toth (bass) and Charles “Trey” Macias (hand percussion) represent Canada and the US for this week-long event promoting international musical exchange. They are joined by bands from our Berklee International Network partner schools the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory (who are hosting and producing the event), Helsinki Metropolia University, and France’s Music Academy International, along with student bands from the Helsinki Conservatory, Sibelius Academy, and the Mussorgsky College of Music in St. Petersburg.

Monday night was the trio’s first gig, during which they performed a five-song set of Samantha’s originals to an enthusiastic audience of over 100 people at the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory’s Arabia Hall. Here they are performing “On the Sidelines”:

Up next for our Berklee crew? A gig tonight at the Caisa cultural center (where the program also includes fellow Berklee student and Pop & Jazz alum Anni Mattila), and then we head to St. Petersburg tomorrow for a gig at the JFC jazz club. More to come! In the meantime, you can check out additional footage of the Samantha Schultz Trio and the rest of the artists at the Close Encounters Youtube page.

Berklee in Dublin 2010: “The Art of Improvisation”

Berklee in Dublin students outside the Newpark Music Centre

The Berklee in Dublin “The Art of Improvisation” program kicked off this Monday at our host institution and Berklee International Network partner Newpark Music Centre, located in Blackrock, Ireland, just outside the Dublin city center.  Classes started off in full force on Tuesday, with over 50 students from 12 different countries immersing themselves in all things improv.

Greg Badolato of International Programs, along with Berklee faculty Jim Kelly, John McGann, and Ken Zambello, and Newpark faculty member Ronan Guilfoyle, make up the stellar team of instructors for the courses in this week’s workshop.

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Semester in Athens: getting acclimated

The start of a new semester abroad is such an exciting time, and I was so fortunate as to be with yet another fantastic group of Berklee students embarking on their study abroad program last week.

Semester in Athens student Zach Baldwin-Way takes in the majesty of the Acropolis by night.

Semester in Athens student Zach Baldwin-Way takes in the majesty of the Acropolis by night.

One evening, after a mouthwatering traditional “taverna” dinner, complete with the tenderest lamb and hearty quantities of tzatziki (a dip of cucumber, yogurt, and garlic) and saganaki (fried cheese, enough said), we made our way up toward the Acropolis.  As awe-inspiring as the Acropolis is during the day, I have to say that it is perhaps at its most beautiful at night.  Rising above the city lights, the monuments and the hill itself are majestically lit, and the result is breathtaking.  We kept pausing on our way up the hill to marvel at the 2500-year-old structures rising above us—it’s pretty astounding how ancient these monuments are.

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