Berklee Today

Lead Sheet: A Firm Foundation

As we approach the close of the millennium, Berklee can look back upon a proud record of achievement in giving expression to the truly great vision of college-level contemporary music education. Elsewhere in this issue, you can observe that we are working at carrying the vision and achievements into the twenty first century. First, though, a well-deserved salute to some of those whose leadership and contributions brought us to this hard-won plateau.

Foremost is founder Lawrence Berk, who in 1945 foresaw the need for a school with a curriculum focused on contemporary music. Together with his wife Alma (who made major contributions to the growth and visibility of the college) and a gifted and dedicated group of faculty members, he started Berklee on the path to becoming the best resource for musicians seeking professional training.

Provost Robert Share and Dean Richard Bobbitt were both closely associated with Lawrence Berk from the first years to the early 1980s. They saw Berklee through its acquisition of degree-granting authority and first accreditation in the 1960s and its emergence as an established college.

Joseph Viola came to Berklee in 1946 and served for 49 years as a woodwind instructor and department chair before retiring in 1996. The roster of his students reads like a who's who of the saxophone world. Similarly, the accomplishments of founding Brass Department Chair Fred Berman and his successor, retired veteran Ray Kotwica, mirror those of Viola.

The recently retired John LaPorta shared his talents for 37 years with Berklee students and is credited with helping so many discover their own musical voices. During his years at Berklee, Herb Pomeroy led ensembles, taught classes on Duke Ellington, and developed the Line Writing course that greatly influenced his students. Many composers and arrangers who studied with Pomeroy are prominent figures in today's film, TV, and recording industries.

Another towering figure in Berklee's growth was William G. Leavitt, former Guitar Depart ment chair. There was only a handful of guitarists when he started at Berklee in 1965, but he pioneered the development of college-level guitar education that was unavailable elsewhere and had an enduring impact on Berklee's educational identity.

Other retired faculty members who contri buted significantly to our legacy include Steve Plummer, Emmanuel Zambelli, Dave Matayabas, Fred Schmidt, John Bavicchi, Andy McGhee, Larry Senibaldi, Bill Bresnahan, Jeronimas Kascinskas, and Dean Earl as well as deceased faculty members John Neves, Don Sterling, Alan Dawson, Alex Ulanowsky, and Robin Coxe-Skolfield, to name a few.

As we turn the page on the twentieth century, we should mark a place in history for these people who established the sure foundation that Berklee will stand upon in the new millennium.