By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs
As the last finalist walked from the recital hall at the National Theater in Santo Domingo, we on the audition panel turned to one another and shared a few smiles. On one hand, the easy part was done. Over the past day and a half we had auditioned 30+ talented young musicians that had been selected as finalists for the 2012 Michel Camilo Scholarship. The hard part was about to begin. We now had to select the one candidate to receive the presidential scholarship generously donated by Michel.
We had heard fantastic auditions covering various styles. From exceptional performances of classical piano repertoire, to stellar Jazz and Blues to even transcriptions of Michel’s work — the overall quality showcased made it clear that these young musicians are not messing around. Much of what they have accomplished is due to their individual commitment to music study. This is helped along my high level music education at places like the National Conservatory — where Michel studied.
The Conservatory now has a strong contemporary music program focusing on the Jazz tradition. One of the program directors and faculty is a Berklee alum Javier Vargas. Javier was extremely proud to have a number of his students selected as finalists for the competition.
Director of scholarships Tod Oliviere, assistant vice president for international program Greg Badolato, Michel and I began our deliberations. Going back through the detailed notes we had taken from the auditions and interviews, names began to emerge. As with many awarding situations, Tod knew that there were many potential recipients.
In the end, one performance stood out. A student from the Conservatory and an exceptional young guitarist, Roger De La Rosa. In this moment, his life changed thanks to Michel’s gift, dedication and support of young Dominican musicians.
It is important to note that Berklee also awarded a number of partial-tuition scholarships as well as a couple of 5 week Summer Performance Programs Scholarships to the other fine talents in the group of finalists.
Also, we owe a debt of thanks to the National Theater for allowing us use of the space for this event, to Orange (telecommunications provider) for sponsoring this event and providing us with top-notch support. And extra special thanks goes to Herminio León who is not only an artist in the business world, but an award-winning photographer. He and his team made this event truly special for all involved.