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Fifth Annual Encore Gala Bash Nets over $385K for BCM Scholarships


Encore Gala partygoers take in the music of the Berklee R&B/Soul Ensemble.
Photos by Bob Kramer
 

The Fifth Annual Encore Gala will go into the record books as Berklee's best party of 1999. The fundraiser brought in over $385,000 for Berklee City Music (BCM), the college's educational outreach program for talented urban youth.

Over 1,200 guests filled the Harvard Club on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston's Back Bay on October 23 to hear performances by more than 100 of Berklee's finest student and faculty musicians. From 7:00 p.m. until midnight, the Harvard Club was transformed into an entertainment complex with eight nightclubs featuring jazz, blues, classical, folk, big band, world music, and r&b for dancing and listening audiences.

Some of the exceptional performances came from blues keyboardist Al Kooper, vocalist Donna McElroy, and the Maggie Scott Trio. The Berklee Jazz-Rock Ensemble, directed by Ken Zambello, got everyone moving during a dance set in the Superstar Ballroom. Seen among the partygoers that evening were Seth Justman and Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz of the J. Geils Band, Dick Albert of WCVB-TV5, and Joyce Kulhawik, anchorwoman for WBZ-TV4.

From the left: Larry Silverstein, senior vice president of Schwab Capital Markets & Trading Group; his wife, Maria; and Berklee trustee Phoebe Zaslove-Milligan.
 
From the right: President Lee Eliot Berk and wife Susan G. Berk; Berklee trustee Mike Dreese and his wife, Laura; and board of trustees Chair Will Davis and his wife Jessica.
 
Joyce Kulhawik, anchorwoman for Boston's WBZ-TV4, and Will Davis.
 

The silent auction, chaired by Berklee trustee Don Rose and his wife, Nina Simonds, was another highlight of the evening and raised over $60,000. Special auction donations included a Yamaha Disklavier GranTouch Piano; a Collector's Edition Les Paul Guitar; a vacation package to the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy; a Swiss yoga and hiking excursion, a special opportunity to attend Melissa Etheridge's Pre-New Year's Eve Show in Las Vegas; silver- level tickets and postparty passes to the 42nd Grammy Awards, and more.

The Gala was made possible by lead sponsorship from Schwab Capital Markets & Trading Group who assumed this role for the second year as part of its commitment to forming educational partnerships that benefit local communities. Charlie Milligan, Schwab's managing director, stated, "Berklee City Music is a perfect example of this commitment, and we are very proud of our affiliation with the Encore Gala."

Berklee trustees Tim Collins and William Van Loan served as cochairs of the Encore Gala and also sponsored nightclub rooms. President Lee Eliot Berk and his wife, Mrs. Susan G. Berk served as honorary cochairs. Former Gala cochair and trustee Mike Dreese served as program book chair this year. Gala Superstar Ballroom sponsors included Cutler Associates, EMusic.com, Newbury Comics, and Shawmut Design and Construction. The Gala nightclub sponsors included Ascent Venture Partners; Will and Jessica Davis; Delaware Investments; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette; Longwood Security Services; MBNA New England; Piano Forte; Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Company LLC; and the Van Otterloo family.

According to cochairs Collins and Van Loan, the event was a great success. "We raised more money to support Berklee City Music than we had expected," Van Loan stated. "The Encore Gala was a fabulous bash for a great cause," said Collins. "I believe that those of us who earn our living in the music business have an obligation to help ensure that new talent has the opportunity to develop, and Berklee City Music helps make that possible."

The BCM program assists middle school and high school students from the Boston area who demonstrate musical talent. It is designed to keep them in school and prepares them for a college music education through comprehensive summer performance and follow-up mentoring programs. This past year, 45 urban students were able to participate in Berklee's Summer Performance Program through scholarship funds raised by the Gala and other efforts. Many will continue receiving private lessons, taking theory classes, and participating in ensemble performances as part of the mentoring component of the program. The proceeds from the Encore Gala will also be used to fund full-time scholarships that will enable four urban youths to attend Berklee this year.