By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs
Mozart would have been impressed by the rendition of Eine kleine Nachtmusik blazing through the row of Fender amplifiers lined across the stage at the Lawrence and Alma Berk Recital Hall this afternoon. Eight exceptional Brazilian guitarist picking, hammering-on, pulling-off, swelling with their volume knobs whilst the conductor who could have passed for a rhythm guitarist for Crimson Glory waived in arms to keep time and cue the various passages screaming forth.
The eight musicians are students from our Berklee International Network (BIN) partner Conservatorio Souza Lima in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The gentlemen getting the workout at the podium is Berklee alum and Souza Lima faculty member Ciro Visconti. The group is the Souza Lima Guitar Orchestra and they have been visiting Berklee this week as part of a student exchange program managed by the Office of International Programs. The Orchestra joins a group from Music Academy International (MAI), another BIN partner from Nancy, France. Six students from MAI are also visiting the colleague as part of an exchange. They are led by Berklee alum and head sound engineer at Euro Disney Marc Sublet.
As part of the visit this year, we worked with Tim-Paul Weiner in the Concert Office to set up a performance opportunity for the Guitar Orchestra. The Orchestra uses the string orchestra model as a basis for rendering orchestral repertoire with electric guitars…through stomp boxes, through tube amplifiers. Loudly, but with finesse. This afternoon, we were treated to a concert dedicated to a reigning champ in the world of the string orchestra — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The orchestra presented the Divertimento’s in D Major, Bb Major and F Major and closed out the set with Serenade No. 13 in G Major — A Little Night Music. The crush-endos of eight guitars through amps is definitely something you should and will feel if you have the opportunity to hear a group like this perform. The exceptionally challenging music was performed mostly from memory by excellent guitarist that have had to adapt their technique and even their instruments they use to perform the pieces.
Huge thanks to Ciro and the students for their fine performance and to Mario and Cris Cunha at Souza Lima for sponsoring their groups trip to Boston for a memorable event.
After a wonderful concert at Jordan Hall two weeks ago, the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra is continuing to rehearse but in a very different manner. At the end of every semester, the orchestra rehearses two extra weeks to give Film Scoring and Composition students the opportunity to come in and conduct their original pieces live. Last week we had the privilege of having six very talented Film-scoring majors who were chosen individually by the Film Scoring faculty, come in to conduct their pieces. One of the biggest complaints that composers have is that they are unable to have their pieces played by live players very often. There’s only so much satisfaction and learning a person can do hearing their music played with MIDI instruments. It’s extremely beneficial to hear exactly what the notes on the page sound like with real, live players. So this was exciting for both the players and the composers! The orchestra loves playing new music by their peers; it is really inspiring to hear what your friends are writing while the composers had such a good time working with the orchestra and hearing their music come to life!
The Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra is no ordinary college orchestra. The orchestra is composed of students from Spain, South Africa, England, Nicaragua, the Philippines, just to name a few. Some students are straight out of high school, some have already completed a degree in music and are coming to Berklee to study in a unique major such as film scoring, and some have transferred here from all over the world from other colleges. Not only are we diverse in our cultural backgrounds but in our musical backgrounds as well. Many students are accomplished classical musicians but are equally as talented in Jazz, Latin, Celtic and many other genres. Along with the performance majors, many students in the orchestra are pursuing degrees such as Music Business, Music Production and Engineering, Music Therapy and Composition. We come together to create a diverse group of musicians who just love to make music together!
The orchestra environment is filled with passion, excitement and fun. The orchestra is simply full of people who love to make music together, completely devoid of braggarts. We have an incredible conductor, Franscico Noya, who is a world-renowned conductor and is also the current conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic. His congenial and hilarious personality combined with his incredible expertise in music helps to make the orchestra produce incredible music.
Our spring 2012 concert is right around the corner. It will be held on Tuesday April 3rd at 8pm at Jordan Hall. We have an exciting and diverse program. First, we will be performing the world premier of “Fantasy on a River Theme” which was composed by the great bass player John Patitucci. It will also feature John Patitucci himself as the bass soloist on his piece. We are very excited that he is coming to play with us and that he will premiere this piece with Berklee! We will also be celebrating John Williams’s 80th birthday by playing movements from two of his most famous film scores; Star Wars and Schindlers List. Another exciting piece of repertoire that we will be playing, is the original piece written by the very talented Berklee faculty member Jonathan Holland entitled “Halcyon Sun”. We will also be premiering the piece “8 de Febrero”. This piece is composed by the winner of Berklee’s Composition Contest, Vicente Ortiz Gimeno, an extremely talented clarinet player and composer. Here at Berklee we do play some of the standard classical repertoire, believe it or not! We are playing Schubert’s beautiful Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”. Last but not least, we are playing the first ever live performance of Aubrey Hodges’ Madden NFL theme from the video game!
We have a diverse and wonderful program for next Tuesday! Please try to come out to see my amazing peers play their hearts out at Jordan Hall on April 3rd at 8pm!