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.

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Fall 2015 3 Before the August 30 convocation to welcome this semester's enter- ing students got underway at the Berklee Performance Center, the new students and many of their parents ran the gauntlet past three-dozen peer advisers in the lobby—all wear- ing "I Am Berklee" T-shirts, waving pompons, and cheering the college's newest members. The energy level only increased after they took their seats in the flled venue and the peer advisers streamed down the aisles led by Berklee mascot Mingus the Jazz Cat and a raucous gaggle of marching percussionists. Betsy Newman, vice president for student affairs/dean of students, was the frst to address the crowd. She impressed upon them the idea that Berklee is a community of "unique, special, even quirky people" and that this new class was about to embark on a journey of self-discovery. She urged them to take note of the col- lege's Latin motto, Esse quam videri, "To be, not seem to be." Jay Kennedy, vice president for ac- ademic affairs/vice provost, followed and spoke of the universe of possibili- ties offered at Berklee. He tied his re- marks together by reciting his own comically paraphrased version of the song "Putting It Together" from Stephen Sondheim's musical Sunday in the Park with George. Ryfer Cohen was the event's stu- dent speaker, and offered the new- comers three practical tips: (1) Be open-minded, daring, and say yes (try out new things); (2) be mindful, sen- sible, and say no (take care of your- self and get more than three hours of sleep); (3) be humble and say thank- you (musicians hire other musi- cians—especially those they like). Berklee President Roger H. Brown took the mic and told the students that they were chosen by Berklee be- cause "We're looking for creativity, devotion, compassion, and a musical ability that makes you unique." He also offered three points of advice: (1) Go to class; (2) help make this a safe and healthy campus; and (3) help one another achieve success. The convocation's keynote speaker was James Morales '06, music producer and cofounder of the successful New York music pro- duction team the Elev3n, which has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Jason Derulo, Dr. Dre, Betty Who, and many more. Morales explained that de- veloping musical relationships with other students and learning from them was a major component of his Berklee experience. With the words done, the con- vocation morphed into a Yo Team- produced program of music, featuring two 20-minute sets that let the people in the seats know what Berklee is all about. First up was Arnetta Johnson and S.U.N.N.Y. (Sounds Uplifting Nobility through Notes and Youth), an ensemble playing a set of bop originals and fea- turing Johnson letting loose with a furry of notes on her trumpet, and trading leads or playing unison lines with tenor saxophonist Ryan Linvill. The second group, a funk and r&b outft called Full Circle directed by drummer Macston Maccow, began its set of originals and covers, fea- turing four lead singers, each taking a solo song before joining together in a fnale. The show's highlight, sug- gested by a roar of approval from the audience, was vocalist Christopher Scott, going for and grabbing the high notes on Prince's "The Beautiful Ones." A few days later on September 4, Berklee's staff and faculty members gathered for the opening day cel- ebration that, among other things, marked the college's 70th anniver- sary. The special guest musician was saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. '81. A Louisiana native, he and the musi- cians accompanying him opened by fling into the ballroom of the Copley Place Westin Hotel playing festively, in the style of a New Orleans main line as audience members twirled white napkins in the air. Harrison led the band in a 20-minute set that opened with "Cherokee." Before Harrison closed out the opening day festivities, Larry Simpson, the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Brown spoke to the crowd. Simpson refected on events in the past year and said that Berklee is still working to address issues surrounding race. "Even after 70 years and with a mis- sion statement that says, 'Founded on jazz and the musical traditions of the African-American diaspora,' we still have challenges," Simpson said. He called for staff and faculty to build new courses and programs "with thinking that is fresh, forward- looking, and unfettered with bias." Brown shared a video about Berklee's Vision for 2025, and re- iterated the last line of the state- ment: "Berklee will forge connections among art forms, musical cultures, technologies, and institutions, cre- ating a dynamic global network that fosters innovation, collaboration and community." He then spoke of Berklee's pending merger with the Boston Conservatory [see related story on page 4]. Brown also mentioned other no- table recent developments, specif- cally, the two new master's degree programs beginning on the Boston campus this fall, the establishment of fve online degrees, and the explora- tion of programs in Africa, India, and China. The crowd left energized for the academic year ahead mindful of Berklee's 70-year educational legacy and energized by the unfolding plans for the future. Senior vice president Larry Simpson speaks at Opening Day. The opening of the August 30 entering student convocation was accompanied by a percussion ensemble in the aisles of the Berklee Performance Center. President Roger H. Brown (left) and James Morales '06 addressed the entering students. Photos by Michael D. Spencer Optimism for the Year Ahead Donald Harrison Jr. '81 was a featured musician at Opening Day. By Ed Symkus and Kimberly Ashton

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