Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Jason Camelio (Page 1 of 6)

Jason Camelio

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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Student Post: Friendliness, Generosity and Kindness Abroad

Drum principal and professional performance major, Elena Bonomo ’14, blogs about the recent BIN visit to Kuala Lumpur’s International College of Music. 

Guitarist and electronic production and design major Annie Grunwald (`13) and drummer and professional performance major Elena Bonomo (`14) back stage at KLPAC.

Guitarist and electronic production and design major Annie Grunwald (`13) and drummer and professional performance major Elena Bonomo (`14) back stage at KLPAC.

Having the chance to perform in Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life! At the start of our journey, Annie (Grunwald) and I had no idea what to expect. Neither of us had ever traveled so far from home before! As soon as we were introduced to the students from International College Music (ICOM), we knew that this trip was going to be special.

Our first days were spent rehearsing with the girls for the Tribute to Classic Rock Concert. Annie and I were part of the “Women In Rock” portion of the show (the other two sets were tributes to American Rock and British Rock). The rehearsal process was one of the most intense that I’ve ever experienced. We ran through our set, performed numerous sound checks, learned the stage blocking, got fitted for costumes, ran dress rehearsals, and received notes from the directors and producers of the show. The attention to detail (from the monitor levels, to the video angles and lighting cues, to the stage blocking, to the sound in the house) was at a level that I never experienced before. Everyone who was responsible for producing the show really did an amazing job ensuring that every single aspect of the show was perfect.

I had such a fun time performing in the two concerts! The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC) was such a beautiful venue in which to perform. What really amazed me was the fact that everyone who performed in the show also doubled as a guitar tech, drum tech, etc. And many of them played multiple instruments during the show! It was hard to tell which one was their principle instrument, since they were all equally amazing on everything that they played. Many of the students also ran sound and lighting, which can be such a hard task, given that there were three different sets with multiple instrument changes. It was really an honor to share the stage with such talented musicians! We really appreciate that the students from ICOM let us be part of a show that was so special to them.  They had been working on this show for 3 months before we got there.

Annie Grunwald (guitar - Left) and Elena Bonomo (drum set) performing at the 2013 ICOM Celebration Series - Classic Rock Showcase at KLPAC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Annie Grunwald (guitar – Left) and Elena Bonomo (drum set) performing at the 2013 ICOM Celebration Series – Classic Rock Showcase at KLPAC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Along with performing in the two tribute concerts, we also had some time to explore the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur. We visited the Batu Caves (and became best friends with the monkeys), shopped at Central Market, visited some malls, and ate a tasty banana leaf dinner in Bangsar Village. The girls had been telling us about how we just HAD to try banana leaf since the first day we got there — and wow, it was so worth it! It’s basically a ton of spicy chicken, lamb, fish, rice and vegetables that are served family style, on top of a banana leaf! And you’re supposed to eat it with your hands. It was definitely messy, but so worth it!

Traveling to Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life, and I will remember it forever. In just a week, we made such close friends and it was hard to say goodbye. Even though we were halfway across the world, everyone that we met made us feel right at home. We were so humbled by the friendliness, generosity, and genuine kindness of everyone we met at ICOM. I look forward to working with all of these talented people someday in the future, and also seeing some of them at Berklee next year! I hope that someday we will get a chance to repay them for all that they did for us. Many thanks to ICOM president Miss Irene (Savari), ICOM vice president Dato’ Ravi (Savari), professor of music technology Mr. Nilesh (Thomas), Roger Brown, Tod Oliviere and the Scholarship Office, Jason Camelio, and everyone who made this trip possible! I am truly honored to have been part of such an amazing journey.”

Berklee in South Africa 2013

Berklee’s third annual visit to Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) wraps up in a bundle of opportunities, discovery, new possibilities, new associations, and proof that good collaborations can lead to great success – again and again, and again. Berklee’s involvement with CTIJF is made possible by the collaborative programming and design by Berklee’s Office of International Programs, and EspAfrika – the producers of CTIJF. Leading up to the festival weekend is EspAfrika’s Training and Development program (T&D), the educational component of the jazz festival, spanning 4 weeks of masterclasses and workshops in arts journalism, photography, entertainment and music business, culminating in the final week with Berklee auditions and masterclasses alongside artists from the festival. 

Our program dates for Cape Town this year (2013) were April 1 – 5. As a result of our annual visits and accessibility to our prospective students in this region, we conducted over 80 auditions and interviews for candidates seeking enrollment at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Andrea Pejrolo and Rick Peckham conduct Berklee auditions at Groote Schuur HS, Newlands, CT

EspAfrika has been a fantastic partner in helping us connect with, and reach audiences critical to Berklee, during this highly popular event, that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible in such a coordinated and concise, singular, program each year.

As a result of EspAfrika’s outreach in the communities across Western Cape, during this final week of T&D, the team from Berklee also typically attends, as we did this year, a youth music festival from which we identify two outstanding musicians to receive full-tuition scholarships for Berklee Summer programs. These young musicians are from the Arts and Culture Focus Schools group, a network of schools drawing young students from communities including the outlying townships, supported by the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture, and EspAfrika. Additionally, alongside festival headliners, Berklee faculty also conducted masterclasses in select educational and community centers in the region that attract and train these deeply passionate, committed, and driven, young musicians. At these centers, we also offered two scholarships to Berkleeonline courses. The musicianship we encounter in South Africa is often deep, immense, raw, innate talent that have been recognized and nurtured by some of the most dedicated educators and mentors we have seen anywhere. My constant thought throughout our week in Cape Town was – “this is more than music.”

Rick Peckham wrapping up his masterclass @ Intyholo Jazz development Project in Gugulethu, CT

The Berklee team at CTIJF 2013 was made up of Rick Peckham – assistant chair of the Guitar Department, Andrea Pejrolo – assistant chair of Contemporary Writing and Production, Michael Borgida – marketing manager for Off Campus Projects (representing the Office of Admissions at the program), and Sam Skau – assistant director of International Programs.

Deep thanks and kudos to Berklee International Programs director – Jason Camelio, and co directors of Cape Town International Jazz Festival, EspAfrika CEO Rashid Lombard, and EspAfrika COO Billy Domingo, for their vision, heart, and commitment to this very special program.

Partner College in Malaysia: This School Rocks!

Annie Grunwald, an 8th semester guitarist and music technology major and Jason Camelio, director of international programs, write about the BIN program in Malaysia.

Okay, it is a college, not a school.  Regardless, our Berklee International Network (BIN) partner institutions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the International College of Music (ICOM) has very much ROCKED this week. And, the students and faculty along with a number of important sponsors demonstrated their prowess at the ICOM Celebration Series event held at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC) on Friday and Saturday evening. 

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New England Welcome for Seoul Jazz Academy

Jason Camelio, director of international programs, blogs about our Korean partner institution, Seoul Jazz Academy and their president’s recent visit to Boston.

The busy schedule of crisscrossing the globe for Berklee provides us with many opportunities to experience other cultures and histories, and learn about their rich traditions. It is a rare chance that we have to share these experiences with guests visiting the college. During the week of April 8th, we were fortune to be able to host president of our Berklee International Network partner in Korea Seoul Jazz Academy (SJA) Mr. Charles Kim and his daughter in Boston. Their visit was primarily for the Welcome Week event at Berklee, which opened the campus to accepted students for the fall 2013 semester and their parents to learn more about the college as they prepare to start their studies. Having been graciously hosted by Mr. Kim and the team at SJA, we thought it would be fitting to extend our New England hospitality to him as well. 

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