Berklee today

JUN 2013

Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.

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Woodwind Professor Wendy Rolfe appeared on the cover of November 2012 issue of Flute Talk magazine. Rolfe has also performed with the Handel and Haydn Society, the Boston Baroque Orchestra, and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. Hal Leonard and Berklee Press released the second edition of Solo Jazz Piano: The Linear Approach by Professor Neil Olmstead. Professor Laszlo Gardony released the CD Clarity on Sunnyside Records. Visit Associate Professor Janice Pendarvis sang on David Bowie's album The Next Day. She appeared in the flm Twenty Feet from Stardom and performed on Late Show with David Letterman with Darlene Love, Jimmy Cliff, and Shawn Klush. Professor Kenwood Dennard cofounded the group Bush Rock with keyboardist Delmar Brown. Associate Professor Freddie Bryant received an honorary degree from Amherst College. Pianist and Assistant Professor Vadim Neselovskyi released Music for September on Sunnyside Records. Marco Pignataro was featured on the Eddie Gomez Quintet's Per Sempre, featuring two of Pignataro's compositions. They performed dates in Italy and France. Professor Tony "Thunder" Smith performed with Lou Reed during a European tour and at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He also presented a clinic at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. In February, Assistant Professor Gail McArthur-Browne gave a jazz master class at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Associate Professor Mikael Ringquist, the leader of Orquesta La Pasión, performed Osvaldo Golijov's La Pasión Según San Marcos in Colombia and Argentina. He also played on the soundtrack for a Francis Ford Coppola flm. Guitar Professor Jon Damian performed with singer Jackie Evancho at the Wang Center in Boston. faculty profle Adam Renn Olenn Woodwind Professor Barbara LaFitte played in pit orchestras for productions of Peter Pan (Wang Center) and The Great Gatsby (NEC's Jordan Hall and Tanglewood). She will perform as the principal oboist in the Boston Ballet's Chroma and Coppélia. Joe Galeota by Adam Renn Olenn African Time Joe Galeota When he's not making custom drums for artists like Vinx and Mickey Hart, Professor of Percussion Joe Galeota teaches classes that introduce students to the culture and advanced ensemble playing of African music. After attending the Hartt School and touring, Galeota came to Berklee as a performance major in percussion. He honed his chops playing with ballet and opera orchestras, and at jazz gigs. Then Galeota left Berklee with a yen for travel. He mentioned to a classmate that he'd like to visit another country and learn more about percussion—unaware that this offhand remark would shape his career. "Oh," said the classmate, "I just got back from the University of Ghana, and they have a really good program. You should check it out." Galeota applied, but didn't receive a response. He went back on the road for a year and a half before a telegram arrived telling him he'd been accepted. "I bought a one-way ticket— which was really foolish—to this place I knew nothing about," Galeota says. "I was just excited to have an adventure." He certainly got one— stolen luggage, stark living conditions, and a coup led by his classmates. Everything was a surprise, including the music. "I was a professional when I got to Ghana," Galeota says. "I had been working with the opera and the ballet and doing all these jazz gigs. I could really play." But he soon found out what the locals meant when they told him, "This music is no joke, man." One evening Galeota joined an ensemble. "They gave me this little bell part to play. It seemed simple, but I couldn't play it!" Fortunately, an old man sat behind Galeota and touched him on the shoulder every time he got lost, wordlessly guiding him back to the beat. "Everything is about community [in Ghana]," Galeota says. "You don't get to go shed in a practice room until you know what you're doing. You learn and make mistakes right there in the group, in front of your peers. You feel very vulnerable." Community-Embedded Music This experience informs Galeota's perennially popular classes and ensembles. "There's no room for ego," he says. "I don't teach with handouts or written music; it's strictly oral tradition. I sing the rhythm and make the students clap the pulse and tell me where 'one' is." Once students fnd the beat, Galeota calls "switch" and has them sing the rhythms with syllables analogous to a rhythmic solfège. "I have them sing everything frst before they pick up an instrument. That way they have internalized the music before they try to present it." Galeota stresses that these approaches enhance rather than replace Western learning techniques. A focus on artistic intangibles gives Galeota's classes a unique vibe. "An African ensemble is only as strong as its weakest player," he says. "And the better players see it as their responsibility to bring novices up to their level. The music is very egalitarian." Students enjoy this collaborative atmosphere. Galeota says this frees them from ego, which is really a by-product of insecurity, and leaves them feeling more secure as musicians. It's no wonder his classes are so popular. Also popular are Galeota's annual trips to Ghana, on which he immerses students in the culture, customs, and the music of Ghana. "I started taking kids over there in 1997," he says. "They come back totally changed. It's hard to say which aspects of the trip have the greatest impact—whether it's the music, the rich cultural traditions, the starkly different socioeconomic conditions, or the Ghanaian emphasis on human connections over material possessions." Scores of Berklee students' parents have written to Galeota to extoll the changes in their children after his trips. "[These trips] defnitely change the way students think about the place of music in their lives," he says. "[In Ghana] music doesn't belong to any one person; it belongs to everyone and is part of life. You'll see guys working on a roof and they're all singing." Once students understand that in Ghana, music is the lineage of family, a means of public satire, and a form of history keeping, Galeota urges students to consider what their own music means to them. Galeota's love of Ghanaian music led him to found JAG Drums in the 1980s. "I was making the frst professional-quality African instruments in America," he says. A fan left one of Galeota's brochures on the stage after a Grateful Dead show, and Galeota received a call from Mickey Hart's manager requesting fve drums. Hart loved them and called for more. "Mickey Hart played a 20-minute drum solo on my drums in every show for 20 years," Galeota says. Galeota made drums for many industry A-listers but formed a special relationship with Vinx. "He asked me to design something for him, and I came up with the 'Vinx drum.' It's basically a djembe with tensioning ropes that go all the way to the leg of the drum. He can squeeze it between his knees and change the pitch of the drum as he plays." Galeota now splits his time between teaching, making drums, and gigging. "It's a balanced diet," he says. "Teaching is emotionally rewarding, but it's kind of sedentary. Making drums is very physical—as is gigging. It's good to get a workout." Galeota recently fnished shooting his frst instructional video for Berklee Press, and he is pondering writing a book that captures the musical and cultural lessons he's learned in three decades of studying the music and people of Ghana. Whatever his next project is, he'll infuse it with his enthusiastic spirit, and it's sure to make an impact. Adam Renn Olenn is a Web producer for Berklee's Offce of Institutional Advancement. Summer2013 9

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