16th Berklee in Puerto Rico Gives $300,000 in Scholarships

By 
Nick Balkin
April 30, 2010
Giovanni Hidalgo
Photo provided by the artist

For the 16th straight year, Berklee faculty will travel to San Juan for Berklee in Puerto Rico, an intensive week of contemporary music instruction held in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest. Over 200 young musicians will participate in this year's program, June 1–6, at Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina.

Throughout the week, students will audition for scholarships totaling $300,000 to attend the college in Boston. Over $3 million in tuition assistance has been awarded in the 15 years of the program. More than 100 of these recipients have gone on to attend Berklee, including saxophonist and MacArthur "genius" grant recipient Miguel Zenón '98, who participated in the first year of the program, and 2006 Presidential Scholar Enrique "Kalani" Trinidad. 

The Berklee in Puerto Rico graduation concert and scholarship presentation will be held on Sunday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Carolina. At 5:00 p.m., a group of the program's top students will perform at the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest, at the Tito Puente Amphitheater in San Juan.

Berklee will present an honorary doctor of music degree to percussionist, composer, and bandleader Giovanni Hidalgo, 7:30 p.m., at the Tito Puente Amphitheater. A native of Puerto Rico, Hidalgo is considered one of the best conga players of his generation, and possibly the fastest. A former member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nation Orchestra, he has performed or recorded with Tito Puente, Paul Simon, and Art Blakey, among others. Hidalgo taught in Berklee's percussion department from 1992 to 1996.

Berklee in Puerto Rico is a crash course in the Berklee method of musical instruction, encompassing theory, ear training, improvisation, ensemble performance, and instrument instruction. This year's faculty include Eguie Castrillo, island native and associate professor of percussion; saxophonist Greg Badolato, assistant vice president for international programs; Oscar Stagnaro, bass professor; Rick Peckham, assistant chair of guitar; drummer Ron Savage, chair of ensembles; pianist Rebecca Cline, assistant professor of ensembles; trombonist Bob Pilkington, professor of jazz composition; vocalist Darcel Wilson, ear training instructor; and trumpeter Christine Fawson, brass instructor.

Berklee in Puerto Rico is made possible by generous support from Berklee alumnus and trustee Luis Alvarez '83, vice president of Mendez & Company Inc. and executive producer of the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest. In addition to helping coordinate the program, Alvarez and his corporation will donate $20,000 for the Mendez & Company Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest Scholarship to be awarded at the end of the Berklee in Puerto Rico program. In the 15 years that the program has run, Mendez & Company has awarded over $150,000 to deserving students.