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First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Rick Peckham

Rick Peckham

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.

New Soul in Seoul Jazz Academy

By: Jason Camelio, director of international programs

As we close in on the last leg of the 2012-2013 recruitment season, I see that it is a good idea to take a moment to share news from around the Berklee world.  Here is the first in a series of updates about some great happenings in Berklee’s expansive network.

In late October we made our annual visit to our Berklee International Network (BIN) partner the Seoul Jazz Academy (SJA).  Visiting Seoul and SJA is one of the major highlights of the year because of the rich community of excellent musicians in Korea, the success of our alumni and because Seoul Jazz Academy — already a very hip place — has just gotten hipper.  In 2012 SJA came under new management and has undergone a significant renovation.

Berklee team with the new leadership of Seoul Jazz Academy.

With the number of talented, young Korean musicians interested in Berklee on the rise, we needed to take a larger team to SJA to present clinics, perform a concert with faculty members and students and to conduct the auditions and interviews.  The team was comprised of assistant director of admissions Pearly Lee, associate professor of ensembles Skip Smith, professor of ear training Rick DiMuzio, assistant chair of guitar Rick Peckham, vice president of enrollment Mark Campbell and myself.  Sessions were presented on a range of topics including practice techniques, small group improvisation, ensemble playing, composition and arranging, preparing for an audition and more.  The events were closed out with a faculty showcase and students from SJA joining us on stage for a jam.

For 15-years SJA has been a partner with Berklee and a member of the BIN.  In that time, the institution has done excellent work in training young musicians for careers in music and preparing them for transferring to Berklee.  The results can be seen in the fine alumni, many of whom have returned to Korea to work in the vibrant music industry there.  With new blood flowing in the veins at SJA we are excited for the future.

For more details about the happenings in Korea, I encourage you to read Mark Small’s feature in the Berklee Today alumni magazine.

Improvising Global Connections

By Jason Camelio, director of international programs.

Art of Improvisation Global Connection

Lollapalooza - Brazil award winner Sarah Messias and Ipshita Roy from India hang with Rick Peckham after the Art of Improvisation afternoon master class.

The afternoon session at the end of the first day of the Art of Improvisation: Blues and Jazz program was coming to an end. As the room began to clear an oddly familiar — in the land of Berklee — event took place. Two young women were having a discussion with assistant chair of the guitar department, Rick Peckham. This is fairly common. It gets interesting when you learn about the two talented musicians speaking with Rick.

First, we have a young Brazilian Blues vocalist and harp player Sarah Messias. Sarah is the winner of the 2012 Lollapalooza – Brazil Scholarship. The award affords her the chance to attend the Art of Improvisation program at no cost! Her peer is also a talented young Blues vocalist from India, Ipshita Roy. Both musicians are enjoying some level of musical success in their home countries. Both have traveled a great distance to the new campus in Valencia to make this connection.

For some, this would be the makings a fine Odd Couples sequel. But, for those of us at Berklee it is just another day in the classroom. The exceptions being that these two musicians totally ROCKED it during the afternoon master class. 

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Schooled in Groove

To many musicians, the groove is the basis of all that we do. It’s the feel; the groove moves us. As we wrapped up the last day of the Berklee Groove School program at the new campus in Valencia, the groove was in full effect.

2012 groove school dance

George Russell, Jr. wants you to feel the groove. So, get up and dance!

I do not think the students had any idea what pianist, composer and professor of harmony at Berklee George Russell, Jr. had in mind when he asked the group to get up out of their chairs and start to get their bodies in motion. The result put the icing on the cake of this 4-day program by making the students do what they had been studying over the long weekend. Shake it, baby! 

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Get Your Groove On and Learn the Art of Improvising

2012 Berklee Groove School and Art of Improvisation

Faculty members for the 2012 Berklee Groove School and Art of Improvisation

Vocalists and Instrumentalist of all styles are encouraged to check out two new special programs Berklee will produce at our new campus in Valencia, Spain this summer.  Berklee Groove School and the Art of Improvisation: Blues and Jazz will introduce musicians to the important topics related to live performance. 

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