By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs
When you walk out of the airport in San Juan in late May, the heat hits you like a head-high wave and can knock you back a few steps. You get a similar feeling from the wave of positive energy coming off of the nearly 200 students streaming into registration for the Berklee in Puerto Rico program.
Thanks to the generous support and commitment of Berklee trustee and alum Luis Alvarez (`83), Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Producer Joey Sala, Banco Popular, Escuela Belles Artes de Carolina and many other sponsors Berklee is conducting its 17th program in Puerto Rico. The week-long program brings together young musicians from across the island to work with an exceptional group of Berklee faculty members, including pianist Carolyn Wilkins, vocalist Darcel Wilson, trumpeter Ken Cervenka, percussionist Eguie Castrillo, guitarist Rick Peckham, trombonist Bob Pilkington, drummer Casey Scheuerell and bassist Oscar Stagnaro. The program is managed by saxophonist and assistant vice president for international programs Greg Badolato and the International Programs team.
The goal of the program is to introduce the these young musicians to the Berklee classroom environment. During the week, students will take courses in harmony, improvisation and instrumental technique in the morning. Then, they take part in ensembles and special lectures in the afternoon. Through the course of the week, students will work towards a final concert performance for family and friends. Students demonstrating exceptional musicianship during the program and in the few days of Berklee auditions and interviews being conducted during the program will be considered for scholarships to attend the 5 Week Summer Performance Program in Boston, Berklee Online courses and Berklee’s full-time undergraduate.
After 17-years of programs in Puerto Rico, we have come to see a steady stream of exceptional musicians enroll at Berklee, including saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenon, guitarist Roy Guzman, flutist Kalani Trinidad and saxophonist Edmar Colon. And that is just scratching the surface. As a special treat for the students this year, some of the senior program participants open the program with a concert. The band, led by drummer and composer Leo Osuna also included bassist Alex Gasser and saxophonist Jonathan Suazo.
The recipe for success of this program and other produced by International Programs is taking significant amount of commitment from alumni, sponsors, students and their families and the Berklee faculty, giving it lots of time to mature and take root in the community. Then, add a healthy dose of the primary ingredient — music; and you get an excellent program.
Over the course of this week, we will share photos and news about the program. Be sure to check back in with us!