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First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: scholarships (Page 2 of 5)


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!

Following the Path Through Berklee in Puerto Rico

By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs

Carlos plays cuatro. He’s 12-years old. He just got back from Cuba, where he was playing at a conference for cuatro players. Edgardo plays soprano. He’s been playing for a year. He is 15-years old.

It is not uncommon to see such young musicians in Puerto Rico. Music starts early here and runs deep. But, what is intriguing for me is how easily they wish to share their music – without hesitation. These young musicians stopped but to hang with assistant vice president for international programs Greg Badolato and I yesterday afternoon during lunch. They eagerly pulled out their instruments and wanted to play for us.

2012 Berklee in Puerto Rico Young Lions

Carlos and Edgardo play a duet at Berklee in Puerto Rico.

Programs like Berklee in Puerto Rico open the doors, sow the fields, pave the paths…you name it. Students have the opportunity to interact with their peers and also the wealth of knowledge and experience provided by the exceptional faculty members. They do this through a full week or lectures, master classes and ensembles. Carlos and Edgardo are new students to the program and we can already see the potential paths before them.

2012 CAC Concert Ruben Amador

Director of Conservatorio de Artes Del Caribe Ruben Amador kicks of the schools end of term concert.

There is a strong likelihood that they will develop into fine musicians and educators like Berklee alum and student in the first Berklee in Puerto Rico program in 1995 Ruben Amador (`04) . He is the founder, director and inspiration behind the Conservatorio de Artes Del Caribe (CAC). Ruben graciously invited Greg, Eguie Castrillo and I to attend the semester ending concert showing the excellent talent studying at the Conservatory. We were truly impressed by the range of experience and styles presented in the concert. His students rocked out on the tunes like the Chili Peppers “Scar Tissue”, interpreted beautiful jazz ballads like the Ella Fitzgerald version of “Black Coffee” and showcased their total musicianship chops with a short set of Police and Sting tunes to cap off the night.

CAC has a prime location in the heart of the music scene in old San Juan. The students’ commitment to their education and the development of the Conservatory is deep. As Ruben took us on a tour of the facilities he told us that, “the students tell me that if they could live here in the building, they would. They are so into the school that they are even helping with the renovation of the building.” A quick look around and you get the feeling of the old Berklee 1140 Boylston Street building — its character and sound and smell. The vibe is right for the work Ruben, his teacher and students are doing.

The Berklee in Puerto Rico program is also thankful for Ruben’s generosity. Based on the recommendations of Berklee faculty members teaching at the program, three students in our program will be selected to receive scholarships to attend CAC for one-semester starting this fall. Thus keeping them on the path.

Though Carlos and Edgardo are part of a whole new generation of young musicians.  There are many similarities that can be drawn between them and Ruben. Their basic instinct is to work on the music. They are not in it for the glory — just for the satisfaction of going a fine job. Only time will tell where it will lead them. If alums like Ruben are any indication, the music is in good hands.

2012 CAC Concert

Students at Conservatorio de Artes Del Caribe rock out on "Just Forget About It."

Music Where It Counts: Update from Cape Town

Guguletu Clinics 2012 CTIJF

Jim Odgren works with talented young musicians from Guguletu as part of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

When the 6-year old trumpeter walked up on stage with this fellow band mates, we thought is was pretty cool.  When he played the melody along with the band, we smiled with surprise.  When he took chorus after chorus on a traditional South African tune our minds reeled at the potential.

How was it possible that this young boy, growing up in a place that affords so little in opportunity has been able to accomplish all that he has in so short a time?

This was the scene we encountered as we began our clinics for the Training and Development Program component of the 2012 Cape Town International Jazz Festival in the township of Guguletu.  In a packed-to-capacity community center hall, Jim led a two-hour session that feature a number of groups from the township.  We jammed with the students.  They taught us a few of their tunes, and we shared some of what we know.  Walking out of the building, we were left speechless.  My guess is that he was thinking what I was thinking.  You cannot stop the music.  It will always find a way.

Through my work in the Office of International Programs, I am given many opportunities to be out on the road for the college.  We take the very best of the college with us to share what Berklee does and we seek to learn from our experiences — bringing that experience back to Boston.  We visit colleges, universities, technical institutes and festivals.  We hold a variety of events covering a range of musical topics.  We do this to make the personal and musical connection.  At the end of the day, an experience like the one we had in Guguletu is where it is at.  It is where the music counts.

Global Outreach Through Music: Update from Cape Town

Soon after the team arrived in Cape Town, we were brought to the 2012 Cape Town International Jazz Festival’s (CTIJF) opening event at The Fugard Theater.  Festival founder Rashid Lombard, producer Billy Domingo and director of training and develop Craig Parks kicked the week off with an excellent showcase of student bands from Cape Town and Cape Flats.

Being that this is my first time to Cape Town, I did not know what to expect.  We were truly surprised by the quality of musicianship and talent showcased by the 10 student bands that performed.  Chair of music business/management Don Gorder, professor of woodwinds Jim Odgren, assistant director of admissions Gojko Damjanic and I made page upon page of notes identifying a number of exceptional students we heard.

The tough part was next.  With all of this talent, we needed to select two students to received full-tuition awards to the 5 Week Summer Performance Program and two students to receive Berklee Online Awards for an online class of their choice.  With the help of Craig Parks, we were able to select the following winners;

5 Week Full-Tuition Scholarships
• Drum Set – Megan Hilda Saayman
• Guitarist – Gavin David John Kemp

In Megan’s case, we noted her musical taste, groove and the fact that the beat never moved.  She was locked in.  For a young musician that has only been playing for three years, we were truly impressed by her musicianship.

We thought Gavin was the band leader.  He has a presence both personally and musically.  He demonstrated a fine level of skill as a lead player, accompanists and soloist.

Both of these fine, young musician were presented with their awards at the free concert held at Green Market Square on Wednesday evening.  They were greeted with gracious applause.  Megan was even asked to demonstrate her prowess as a drummer (see photo).

The winners of the Berklee Online awards are trumpeter Robin Kock and trombonist Steven Campbell.  These young talented were part of the horn section for a fantastic band from Alexander Sinton High School.

We could have easily selected a number of other musicians for award from this student band festival.  For now, we look forward to seeing Megan and Gavin in Boston this summer, and helping Robin and Steven expand their musical knowledge through their online courses.

Stay tuned for my next post about our clinics in Guguletu.

Award Receipient Megan Saayman at 2012 CTIJF

5 Week award winner Megan Saayman plays for a capcity audience at Green Market Square in Cape Town.

Africa’s Grandest Gathering: 2012 Cape Town International Jazz Festival

We are in between auditions at The Fugard Theater in Cape Town, South Africa.  As I look around the concert hall, I can see that the team at the Festival and ESP Afrika are serious professionals.  The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is a world class event and one that we at Berklee are excited to be supporting.

The event has been sold out for a few weeks.  The 2-day event will play host to 30K guests.  The concert events will all be kicked off on Wednesday evening with a free public concert which will also see about 18K attendees.  A quick glance at the list of acclaimed local and world renown artists helps to bring all of this into focus.

I am here with chair of music business and management/trumpeter Don Gorder, professor of woodwinds Jim Odgren and assistant director of admissions Gojko Damjanic.  This week are supporting the Training and Development program.  This includes checking out an impressive student jazz festival held on Sunday evening at The Fugard Theater, conducting a few days of auditions and interviews for candidates from across the African continent seeking to study at Berklee and giving a few days of lectures and master classes on a range of musical topics.

Throughout the week, I will be making posts on our work and the event.  To start things off, I thought it would be cool to give you a glimpse of the natural beauty of the Cape area and what we saw coming in from the airport as we headed into town.

Heading into Cape Town

Table Mountain

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