Last Tuesday September 10, Chris Connors from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion and Human Resources facilitated a Women in Leadership Panel Discussion at The Loft at Berklee College of Music. The panel brought together three of Berklee’s most prominent leaders, Debbie Cavalier, VP of Online Learning and Continuing Education, Cindy Link, SVP for Institutional Advancement, and Dr. Krystal Banfield, Dean for City Music. The objective of the discussion was to ask the questions “how did you get to where you are in your career?” “how did you overcome obstacles?” and “how can women attain more leadership positions?”
Orientation week was an invigorating frenzy of free mini chocolate bars, fliers and pamphlets recruiting a myriad of 18-year-olds to various majors, and expounding upon them the secrets of success as a student at the Berklee College of Music. To wrap up the week were a few weekend events to give the students a better idea of the experiences that Berklee could offer them in their future and present Berklee careers.
First, on Friday night (January 20th), was a soul-brightening performance by the lovely ladies of Zili Misik. This group was comprised of seven beautiful, energetic and high-spirited women (all but one were proud alumni of Berklee) who danced around the stage, displaying incredible musical prowess as well as great passion for life and art. Their repertoire consisted of a perfect mixture of original creations as well as traditional folksongs from Haiti, Brazil and West Africa – all infused with endearing anecdotes, captivating rhythms, and danceable melodies. They brought an incredible energy to the room, and left everyone bopping their heads and feeling uplifted and full of life. Following their concert was a reception in the loft – free food for all, and a chance to mingle with other new students, as well as the ladies of Zili Misik. Upon meeting them, the warmth that exuded from the stage was clearly presented face-to-face, and their gratitude for their unique experiences at Berklee were readily shared.
The next morning was the Berklee Women’s Welcome Brunch. A spread of deliciously unique food – including mini pancake and raspberry kabobs (genius!) – was the perfect backdrop for a few hours of inspiration, anecdotes and laughter. The tables were laden with various inspirational quotes by and for women, and after much chatting and feasting amongst the tables, these quotes were read out loud to nods of understanding and smiles of illumination. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson
“We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone. Whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.” Sandra Day O’Connor
“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” Ani Difranco
After a few moving speeches by Berklee alumnus Maya Khaldi and Ayeisha Mathis – highlighting their experiences at Berklee, the difficulties of being a woman in the music industry, and the triumphs of rising above those social constructs – Hannah Christianson took the stage. I have been a huge fan of Hannah’s since I first caught wind of her music – with piano and vocal stylings reminiscent of Regina Spektor, her music is laden with catchy melodies and enriching messages. Her performance was fantastic as always, and ended with a jubilant sing-a-long.
After taking a few hours to allow stomachs to digest exorbitant amounts of smoked salmon, pastries and pancakes, it was time to head over to the Museum of Science for the culminating artistic event of the weekend – a collaboration between Boston-bred rock quintet, Ghosts of Jupiter, and the scientific geniuses of the Museum. It was quite the trippy experience, to say the least – lying back, watching entranced as this vast, dome-shaped screen lit up with the most striking of visuals dancing in front of your eyes and taking you on this insane journey through space. I remember there was one point where I closed my eyes for but a moment, and when I opened them again, there was this colossal owl – eyes flashing, feathers radiant and lustrous – soaring into my face. It truly was a visually and aurally stunning show, and one that I would highly recommend to anyone and everyone. I so look forward to the next musical and artistic collaboration that the museum chooses to take on!
All in all, it was a great success of a weekend – wonderful music, conversation, food, art, guidance – and a perfect beginning to what is sure to be a fabulous semester at the Berklee College of Music!
To check out the ladies of Zili Misik, go to www.zilimisik.com.
To check out some of Hannah’s music, go to www.musicofhannah.com.