Scratch Ambassadors Mix Turntables with Acoustic Music April 21

By 
Liz Burg
April 2, 2011
Professor Stephen Webber at the turntables
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

Stephen Webber, a music production and engineering professor, is bringing turntables into the spotlight with the college's first Scratch Ambassadors! concert on United States soil. Following success abroad, the Scratch Ambassadors! program will be held at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, on April 21 at 8:15 p.m. The program—a series of performances by small ensembles—will highlight Berklee's turntable students as they perform with acoustic musicians. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.

The groups will present a range of styles, from hip-hop, jazz, and reggae to bluegrass, folk, and pop. Close to 20 students, faculty, and administrators—including rising folk and jazz guitarist student Emily Elbert, and Berklee's president Roger Brown—will share the stage to perform pieces with never-before-heard instrumental combinations. Vocalists and musicians playing banjo, mandolin, saxophone, fiddle, guitar, electric bass, cello, brass instruments, drums, and fiddles will mash acoustic music with DJ/turntablists on stage. Learn more about the event.

Webber, a.k.a. Professor Scratch, a veteran record producer, engineer, music director, studio designer, recording artist, and session player turned turntable expert founded the college's first turntable ensemble in 2005. Like other Berklee ensembles, the turntable ensemble focuses on playing and performing in a small, audition-only group. The Scratch Ambassadors! concept—pairing the turntable ensemble with acoustic musicians—was borne out of the ensemble's first trip overseas to Helsinki, Finland. After attending the group's inaugural performance there, the United States cultural attaché to Finland invited the group to return to share this uniquely American concept with the Scandinavian country, this time for a five-stop tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Following successful turntable expeditions to Finland, Athens, Australia, and Ecuador, Webber sought to bring the Scratch Ambassadors! concept back home to Berklee's own stage. "Berklee is this totally unique place where musical styles and cultures mix freely and frequently," said Webber. "This concert will set out to capture the joy of not settling any stylistic boundaries."

Can't make it to the concert? Berklee has teamed up with Concert Window to broadcast live streams of this and other Berklee shows. Visit concertwindow.com/berklee for more information.