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scholarship

Ireland Gets the Presidential Treatment from Berklee

By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs

An exceptionally talented group of young musicians is en route to Ireland to present a series of master classes and concerts in Sligo, Cork and Dublin. The quintet, led by Berklee presidential scholar and native of Ireland Matthew Halpin, will also feature drummer Roberto Gianquinto, bassist Jared Henderson, pianist Christian Li (not in photo) and guitarist Mike Bono (also a Berklee Presidential Scholar).

Tenor saxophonist and composer Halpin has just completed his sixth semester at Berklee. His most recent project is one which includes four musicians who he has been working with and studying with in various scenarios since he began at Berklee in fall of 2009. Matthew states, “In that time this group has grown to be some of my best friends and musical connections. What we’ve been able to develop is something which I have not experienced before.”

MIke Bono Matt Halpin Ireland

Matt Halpin and Mike Bono lead their quintet on clinic and concert tour of Ireland in June.

Halpin describes this quintet as, “a group of musicians (that) are stand out players in their own right, most of them studying on full scholarships at Berklee College of Music. I’m currently composing a set of music specific to this group that I think will show off the highly interactive capabilities and the incredible soloing skills each musician has. What I am trying to make most prominent in the music is the enjoyment and humor that we find in playing together and which has always come naturally to us, while being true to the intensity and emotional depth of the music which we all love.

Halpin’s quintet will be performing at the Hawkswell Theatre and Sligo Jazz Project in Sligo, the International Bar in Dublin, at Berklee International Network partner institution Newpark Music Centre in Dublin and other locales. For mote details about their Ireland tour, please go to Matt and Mike’s web sites.

This is the first time that Berklee has sent a group co-led by Presidential Scholars on an international tour. The quintet will also be on tour in France in October as part of a student exchange program with Berklee International Network partner Music Academy International in Nancy, where they will be feature at the 2012 Nancy Jazz Pulsation.

Generosity – Dominican-Style

By: Jason Camelio, Director of International Programs

As the last finalist walked from the recital hall at the National Theater in Santo Domingo, we on the audition panel turned to one another and shared a few smiles. On one hand, the easy part was done. Over the past day and a half we had auditioned 30+ talented young musicians that had been selected as finalists for the 2012 Michel Camilo Scholarship. The hard part was about to begin. We now had to select the one candidate to receive the presidential scholarship generously donated by Michel.

We had heard fantastic auditions covering various styles. From exceptional performances of classical piano repertoire, to stellar Jazz and Blues to even transcriptions of Michel’s work — the overall quality showcased made it clear that these young musicians are not messing around. Much of what they have accomplished is due to their individual commitment to music study.  This is helped along my high level music education at places like the National Conservatory — where Michel studied.

The Conservatory now has a strong contemporary music program focusing on the Jazz tradition. One of the program directors and faculty is a Berklee alum Javier Vargas. Javier was extremely proud to have a number of his students selected as finalists for the competition.

2012 Michel Camilo Award Finalists

2012 Michel Camilo Award Finalists

Director of scholarships Tod Oliviere, assistant vice president for international program Greg Badolato, Michel and I began our deliberations. Going back through the detailed notes we had taken from the auditions and interviews, names began to emerge. As with many awarding situations, Tod knew that there were many potential recipients.

In the end, one performance stood out. A student from the Conservatory and an exceptional young guitarist, Roger De La Rosa. In this moment, his life changed thanks to Michel’s gift, dedication and support of young Dominican musicians.

It is important to note that Berklee also awarded a number of partial-tuition scholarships as well as a couple of 5 week Summer Performance Programs Scholarships to the other fine talents in the group of finalists.

Also, we owe a debt of thanks to the National Theater for allowing us use of the space for this event, to Orange (telecommunications provider) for sponsoring this event and providing us with top-notch support.  And extra special thanks goes to Herminio León who is not only an artist in the business world, but an award-winning photographer.  He and his team made this event truly special for all involved.

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