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Here Is What $1 Million Looks Like in Puerto Rico

By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs

We have closed out another year at Berklee in Puerto Rico. The final concert, held on Sunday, June 3rd showcased the fine talent and hard work of the students and the faculty members from the week-long program. In just over 4-hours, 16 bands performed dozens of pieces of music running the stylistic gamut. From small group jazz and rock to the hair-raising large jazz orchestra and choirs, the show was a fantastic success. Huge thanks goes out to Carolyn Wilkins, Darcel Wilson, Greg Badolato, Eguie Castrillo, Ken Cervenka, Rick Peckham, Bob, Pilkington and Casey Scheuerell.

As a result of the work of the Berklee faculty members in Puerto Rico for the past 17-years, we have seen a steady rise in the level of skill and musicianship in the young students here. This increase in talent has made it possible for more and more students to continue their studies at Berklee as full-time students. From Miguel Zenon and Ruben Amador to Nannette Velez and Carlos Ayala to Kalani Trinidad and Edmar Colon…the list will go on and on. Special thanks goes to trustee and Berklee alum Luis Alvarez for his support of this event, Larry Monroe and Greg Badolato for their dedication to the program over these years and to Joey Sala for all the work he does to help us pull off a successful program year after year.

And with the close of each Berklee in Puerto Rico program we have an awards ceremony. The awards include Berklee Online courses, awards from the Conservatorio de Artes del Caribe, 5 Week Summer Performance Program Scholarships and awards towards Full-Time Study. For the past few years, we been conducting auditions and interviews (A&I) at the program in order to assist students on their path to Berklee. The first year that we conducted A&I at the program, we were able to jump from awarding $70,000 in partial tuition scholarships based on only nominations from faculty members to approximately $300,000 based on the A&I — which allows for acceptance consideration to the college and higher scholarship award potential. Last year, we cleared the $700,000 mark. This year, we have hit a major watershed. With the level of talent at a steady rise, it was inevitable. This year the director of scholarships Tod Oliviere was excited to announce that the total amount of awards being made to Berklee’s programs in Boston exceed $1 million dollars.

2012 Berklee in Puerto Rico Scholarship Winners

So, here is what $1 million dollars looks like. Congratulations!

Time + Commitment + Fun = Berklee in Puerto Rico

By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs

2012 Berklee in Puerto Rico Check In

Student check into the 2012 Berklee in Puerto Rico Program

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.

2012 Berklee in Puerto Rico Opening Jam

Greg Badolato jams with students at the start of the program.

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.

2012 Berklee in Puerto Rico Opening Concert

Leo Osuna (drummer, not pictured) leads his group in the opening concert.

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!

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