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:

Contents of this Issue


Page 7 of 44

George Russell Jr. has been chosen as the new chair of the Harmony De- partment. According to Professional Writing and Music Technology Divi- sion dean Kari Juusela, "Mr. Russell is an amazing musician who under- stands the needs of Berklee students through his teaching of all levels of Berklee harmony, advanced harmony electives, ensembles, and private pi- ano lessons. He is also known as a top-level educator who knows how to build enthusiasm for learning regard- less of a student's background and prior knowledge." Known to students and fellow faculty members Russell's philosophy is "inspired to do" as op- posed to "required to do." Russell holds a master of music de- gree from New England Conservatory and a bachelor of education degree from Duquesne University. Prior to his work at Berklee as a professor in the Harmony Department, Russell was the chair of the jazz department at a Pennsylvania Governor's School, chair of the jazz department of New England Conservatory of Music's pre- paratory division, and a piano in- structor at Tufts University. Russell has been recognized for his teaching and leadership with several award including Berklee's Distinguished Faculty Award in 2011, the Professional Writing Division Curriculum Award in 2010, the Ted Pease Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009, and the Gospel Music Award from New England Conservatory, 2001. Russell replaces previous depart- ment chair Joe Mulholland, who will return to classroom teaching as a pro- fessor in the Harmony Department. In early August, with his single "See You Again" from the Furious 7 movie soundtrack still perched near the top of the Hot 100 (where it spent 12 weeks at number one), singer/song- writer Charlie Puth '13 returned to campus to talk to students enrolled the summer program. "I'm literally like you in [the] Five- Week [program], just fooling around, making music, and goofng off and I just happened to hit something," Puth told the students gathered in the Berklee Performance Center. "So it's very reachable." Puth spoke about his success in Los Angeles and the fortu- itous connections he's made there— such as running into Meghan Trainor at a party and asking her to listen to his song "Marvin Gaye," which turned into a Hot 100 hit featuring Trainor. Professor Livingston Taylor, who in- terviewed Puth on stage at the Berklee Performance Center, wasn't about to let the singer downplay all the hard work he'd put in over the years. "I don't want to get away from the notion of where this started," Taylor said. "It [didn't] start in a Warner Bros. studio in Los Angeles with enough visibility and revenue stream to get you on The Ellen Degeneres Show." Taylor stressed the fact that Puth's career started years earlier, when he released one of his frst YouTube videos as a student enrolled in Berklee's Five- Week Summer Performance Program. The video, which featured him dancing down Commonwealth Avenue and Hit Maker Charlie Puth Addresses Summer Students by Kimberly Ashton George Russell Jr. Named Harmony Chair George Russell Jr. Fall 2015 5 Livingston Taylor interviews Charlie Puth (left) during his August visit to Berklee. Kelly Davidson Casey Driessen '00 has been named as the director of the master's de- gree program in contemporary performance with production con- centration at the Valencia campus. Driessen has gained renown play- ing fve-string fddle on tours by Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, Tim O'Brien, and Darrell Scott. He's also worked with T Bone Burnett, Bootsy Collins, Jerry Douglas, Steve Earle, John Mayer, and Tony Trischka, to name a few. Driessen graduated from Berklee with a degree in music production and engineering and launched his career in Nashville. He has released three solo albums to date. On his latest, The Singularity, Driessen cre- ated all the sounds on the album with his voice and by producing loops with his fddle. Sounds and textures made through looping have become a big part of Driessen's music signature. Previous to his appointment in Valencia, Driessen taught for more than 15 years and learned that there is no single approach that will work for all students. Regarding the per- formance program he currently helms, he says, "It's designed to be fexible to the individual needs of musicians originating from a wide range of instrumental and genre backgrounds while encouraging and developing their individual artistry. It caters to those who respect where they come from yet desire to push their traditions forward into un- charted and exciting new territory." Casey Driessen Driessen Takes Valencia Post Dave Green singing what he now calls a "ridicu- lous song" entitled "Sexy Sunglasses or something like that" earned 10,000 subscribers by his third week that summer. Years after "Sexy Sunglasses," Puth enrolled at Berklee and majored in music production and engineering while continuing to release videos— about one per week—on YouTube. Puth would record covers of well- known songs, such as "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz, and use a hashtag to con- nect cover songs to videos of his own songs. By the time he graduated, he had racked up 30 million hits on YouTube and was generating a rev- enue stream and an audience. "You must develop a following," Taylor told the students. "And the best way to do that these days is through the path that Charlie took, which is the YouTube path." Puth encouraged the students to not let the naysayers discourage them, and to keep plugging away when suc- cess seems far off. "I was always so down on myself and thinking that I didn't have what it takes," he said. "You just have to have faith in yourself." Puth fnished his visit by playing "See You Again" for the crowd be- fore hurrying off to Boston's Blue Hills Bank Pavilion where he and Trainor ap- peared in concert that evening. Kimberly Ashton is an editor/writer in Berklee's Digital Strategy and Communications Department.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Berklee today - OCT 2015