Berklee today

OCT 2015

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

Issue link: https://berkleetoday.epubxp.com/i/575863

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26 Berklee today delay. The music begins immediately and the band breaks into a well-placed and unexpected Led Zeppelin tease. The entire band hits their stride right out of the gate and a bolt of energy shoots through the crowd. Wow. This is going to be good. Both Kyle Thornton and Zak Lewis, the band's trombonist, take turns in the spotlight and both excel. The entire band is locked in with the audience happily in tow. "We put in a lot of hard work," trumpeter Noah Conrad says. "To play the show and see that it pays off just makes us want to work harder. It's a very inspiring weekend." Bassist Henry Young observes, "At Berklee we're used to playing for musicians and our peers, Lollapalooza is a different kind of show and we're going to come back to Berklee with a completely different mindset about performance." "Playing on a stage as big as the one we played on really puts things into perspective," adds Conrad. "You realize that being on one of the bigger stages isn't such a far away thing." Thornton agrees. "It was exhilarating. It was nothing I've ever experienced before. It was an experience I'll never forget. Ever." Far Outside the Classroom These are the experiences at the core of BPMi. As things ramp up Dorenfeld's future plans include having several acts tour- ing simultaneously in a small feet of buses. They'll work their way towards a festival like Lollapalooza while playing gigs and volunteering at City Music network sites. Along the way they'll pick up the kind of experience that is so hard to repli- cate in a classroom setting. As we make our way back to Boston it's clear that I'm talking to a different group than the one that I met three days ago. They're more confdent, and for good reason. They far exceeded all of our lofty expectations and had a fan- tastic performance on a really big stage. Beyond the con- fdence, though is a renewed sense of vigor. Despite three very long days in the heat, there's surprisingly no talk of rest. Instead they're focused on what lies ahead, on how to get that next taste of a big stage, of a big audience. For Kyle Thornton & The Company, it seems there will be many of both in their future. Pondering their experience at Lollapalooza, Thornton sums it up as we depart. "It's nothing but encouraging for us. This is just the start. We're so excited to go back to Boston and amp things up." —Mike Magee Meanwhile in Canada... That same weekend as Jeff Dorenfeld and Kyle Thornton & The Company traveled to Lollapalooza, Jeff Apruzzese '08— formerly the bassist for Passion Pit, and now media and operations manager for BPMi—was in a van with another group of Berklee students and alumni. Apruzzese and Cordelia and the Buffalo headed to Canada's Osheaga Festival. Parc Jean Drapeau, a small island with vistas of the skyline where Montreal meets the St. Lawrence River, has been home to this three-day music and art festival that boasts close to 60,000 concertgoers each day for the past decade. Apruzzese pulls the van up to the artist-only entrance to let the band members out. From this moment on, they ex- perience life as artists at a major festival—from VIP passes, to trailers and backstage schedules with the band's name printed on each one, to festival schwag, and of course, to their performance slot on Osheaga's fnal day. The band is the brainchild of singer Cordelia Vizcaino Leal '16 and its anthemic sound brings together the worlds of indie rock with a distinct international fair (of the band's fve members, the countries represented include Japan, Mexico, America, Venezuela, and Norway). Leal has a deep connec- tion to her Mexican heritage, particularly native cultures. She shares that Aztec and Mayan tribes used music to "portray their spirit and their life." She seeks a similar symbiotic rela- tionship in her own music, as is evident in the band's song "Free," which combines rock instrumentation with traditional Olmec and Aztec instruments such as the ayoyotl (a percus- sion instrument made from seed pods) and huehuetl (a type of drum). The prospect of sharing the bill with some of their fa- vorite, established bands—Weezer, Kendrick Lamar, and the Black Keys—has the band more than excited, but surprisingly calm when asked about the upcoming performance. "We've been preparing for this for months now," Leal says. "It's like that feeling of being fully and completely prepared for a test. At that moment, you can turn it on and relax and enjoy the moment." For bassist Dan McCallum '15, who majored in per- formance, it's about reaching that "perfect harmony between having a total blast and also being extremely serious about really giving this 100 percent. But you can't have one without the other." Experiential Transformation The road to Osheaga was much longer than the 300 miles between Boston and Montreal. In fact, it began almost a year ago when Dorenfeld chose Leal's band to be featured along- side Kyle Thornton & The Company and others on Dorm Sessions X. As in years past, Dorenfeld chose standout acts from HRR releases, paired them with music business stu- dents, and sent them to major concert festivals. BPMi seeks to formalize and maximize this type of immersive experience by sending pairings to six major festivals each summer. Dorenfeld is well aware that his young charges tend to feel daunted by the prospect of going out onto the festival stage, but every band has become better from the experience. "They step off the stage with more confdence, better playing, and the realization that this is something they can pursue," Dorenfeld says. Certainly this was the case with Cordelia and the Buffalo. Their performance drew hundreds of festivalgoers, some of whom the band had already met in their short time at Osheaga, and many other intrigued passersby who were drawn in for their set. After hours in a van with Apruzzese driving and sharing bits of wisdom he'd gleaned from years of touring with Passion Pit and logging its biggest show to date, you could sense that Cordelia and the Buffalo had al- ready reached a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a band at a major festival. And while a typical fan might see a festival band and think that this is the culmination of a childhood dream, the players themselves have a longer vi- sion. "[Since] I was a teenager, all the things I thought would be involved in being a professional musician have already happened [for me]," says guitarist Rodrigo Gramitto '17. "I'm so grateful that they have, because now I have much bigger goals—far greater than I ever thought I would pursue." —Bryan Parys Mike Magee is the senior director for institutional advancement, Bryan Parys is an editor/writer for digital strategy/communications. EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

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