Berklee College of Music, the world's leading institution for the study of contemporary music, will visit Kenya for the second straight year to hold events that include auditions and interviews (A&I) for scholarship opportunities, music education outreach, workshops, and clinics for area musicians and educators. The programs will be conducted by a team comprised of faculty members Dan Moretti and Ron Reid of the Contemporary Writing and Production Department, Michael Shaver from Admissions, Sam Skau from International Programs, and student ambassador Joey Guglielmo.
The auditions part of Berklee’s Africa Scholars Program offering talented musicians from across the continent the chance to be awarded scholarships to attend the college are open to citizens of any African nation and will be conducted on June 29, 30, and July 1 in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information or to apply, visit berklee.edu/scholarships/africa.
In the past, auditions in Africa were scheduled for two days, which proved to be insufficient to meet the overwhelming demand. This year, three full days of auditions are planned to accommodate as many musicians as possible. While the team hopes to hear 90 candidates in all, interest is so high that it won’t be possible to see everyone. Many will be from Kenya, but musicians also plan to travel from countries all over Africa for their chance to audition, not only from nearby Tanzania and Uganda, but also from as far away as Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco, and Egypt several days journey by bus for some.
Berklee’s unique audition and interview process is designed to uncover the applicant’s musical strengths and academic goals while helping the college assess their aptitude and ability to succeed in the college’s dynamic environment. The professors take into consideration that some of the musicians might not have had access to music education. Says Moretti, "I expect to see a mix of talent but it's the potential that we will be looking at. I am looking for adaptability and natural ability in addition to formal training."
The college has held A&I events in Accra, Ghana; Durban, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya, since instituting the Africa Scholars Program in 2008, resulting in $2.3 million in scholarship awards to attend Berklee and Berklee’s summer programs. Two of the Africa Scholar recipients Victor Dogah from Ghana and Elizabeth Mitaru from Kenya were awarded full four-year scholarships covering tuition and room and board. This year, Berklee will award up to $1 million in scholarships towards its full time program.
The Brookhouse International Schools’ Academy of Performing Arts whose artistic director Eric Wainaina is one of many high profile Kenyan Berklee alumni is hosting Berklee again after last year’s successful visit. Several events are planned to give Brookhouse students and faculty, and area educators the opportunity to interact with Berklee’s faculty. Says Skau, "We had a productive meeting last year where we exchanged ideas and discussed departmental and classroom methods and challenges. The educators in attendance represented a variety of institutions including local universities, private and international schools, community development programs, and private educators."
He continues, "This year we plan to work more closely with the institutions and invite educators to a special clinic/presentation. We want to leave behind something tangible that can continue to mutually benefit us and the local entities long after our week in Nairobi." The Berklee team also plans to give clinics to students at some of the participating schools.
On Friday, July 2, students and area musicians are invited to attend harmony and performance clinics, and an ensemble class presented by Moretti and Reid in the afternoon. The day culminates with an early evening performance by Brookhouse students and Berklee faculty and alumni. The July 2 clinics and performance are open to the public.
This year, for the first time, the team includes a Berklee student ambassador: Music Business/Management major Joey Guglielmo, a native of Malibu, CA. Guglielmo’s family, led by Roy and Barbara March, started the March to the Top (M2T) Foundation after a trip climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The foundation works with several schools in Kenya, and aims to expand its reach by co-sponsoring Berklee’s Africa Scholars Program. Guglielmo explains, "M2T raises money for things such as health care, education, and conservation. We do a lot of philanthropic work. Our goal is to help the less privileged and give them a more promising future." The team will visit M2T partner schools, including Starehe Centre for Boys, on Monday, July 5, where Berklee’s faculty can engage with the students through a Q&A session.
Berklee president Roger Brown and his wife Linda Mason founded the Africa Scholars Program to create opportunities for gifted African musicians who lack the financial means to study at Berklee. The program is also intended to enhance Berklee's presence in Africa and increase awareness of Berklee among African musicians. In an effort to make this program open to as many musicians as possible, Berklee brought together an advisory board of world-renowned artists that includes several alumni to help identify candidates for auditions.
Candidates who audition in Kenya will be considered for a host of other scholarships that Berklee awards annually as part of its World Scholarship Tour, where the college visits more than 40 cities. Musicians come to Berklee from more than 70 countries, making the college uniquely international. While over 20 percent of the college's students already come from outside the United States-among the largest percentages of all U.S. colleges and universities- the Africa Scholars Program is part of a larger effort to increase the number of students from underrepresented areas of the world, including Africa, China, India, and Cuba, fostering a significant cultural exchange.