2011-2012 Presidential Scholars

By
Berklee Media Relations
November 3, 2011
Chaeree Kaang
Paul Francisco Sanchez Pacheco
Erena Terakubo
Kama Bell
Nick Frenay
Hayden Hamilton
Chase Potter
Davis Whitfield
Photo Phil Farnsworth
Photo Phil Farnsworth
Photo Phil Farnsworth
Photo Phil Farnsworth
Photo Phil Farnsworth
Photo Phil Farnsworth
Photo Phil Farnsworth
Photo Phil Farnsworth

Berklee College of Music's Presidential Scholarship is awarded to eight first-semester students every year, each one more impressive than the last. The grant allows them to attend Berklee for four years with no cost to them or their families—all tuition, housing, and fees provided. This program recognizes young talent all over the world, and is one of a kind at a music school.

Chaeree Kaang from Seoul, South Korea, learned to play the piano before she learned to read. Kaang found musical inspiration at church, and played as an accompanist in services from age 10 onward. Her first piano lesson came from a member of the congregation, a professional jazz pianist, who introduced her to a range of styles and told her about Berklee. Kaang completed the diploma program at the Berklee International Network partner, the Seoul Jazz Academy. In 2009, she participated in the annual Jarasum International Jazz Concours. Kaang hopes to become a contemporary pianist and believes that Berklee will help her achieve this.

Trumpeter Paul Sanchez began at the National Music Conservatory in Quito, Ecuador, at age 7. Over the next few years, Sanchez traveled to the United States and Switzerland as a member of the Brass Band of Ecuador, and played in the Seventh Festival of European Youth Bands. At 14, Sanchez entered the Instituto de Musica Contemporanea (IMC) at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. In 2009, he obtained a full scholarship to a jazz summer camp at North Texas University. Since then, Sanchez has recorded and performed with many jazz bands and artists, as well as his own band, Jazz Time, at festivals in Ecuador. In 2010, he won first place as a melodic instrument in the Jazz Envoys Contest, organized by the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador.

Erena Terakubo from Sapporo, Japan, began playing the alto saxophone at age 9. She immediately began playing in the Sapporo Junior Jazz Orchestra, and taking part in clinics with famous jazz musicians, such as Herbie Hancock. At 15 and 16, Terakubo attended the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program where she was awarded a full tuition scholarship and selected to be a member of the Berklee Summer Jazz Workshop. In 2010, she recorded her first album, which reached No. 1 on several Japanese jazz charts. Since then, she has performed at the Tokyo Jazz Festival, Sapporo City Jazz Festival, Jazz Week Osaka 2010, Nagoya Jazz Festival, Kitara Hall, and more. In 2011, she recorded a second album, New York Attitude.

Kama Bell's musical training began early in her childhood, starting with classical piano and eventually transitioning to alto saxophone at age 11. During that time, she had many opportunities to play both piano and saxophone in several large concerts through the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble. In high school, she traveled to Australia with the Western International Band Clinic. Later, Bell discovered her passion for jazz, and joined the American Music Program and began studying the clarinet, flute, and jazz piano. Bell also studied Chinese language and culture at Portland State University. As a Chinese-speaking musician, she now hopes to study internationally and share her music throughout the world.

Winner of the 2009 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Improvisation competition, Nick Frenay already has a long list of accomplishments. Frenay has received many renowned awards such as the youngARTS Silver Winner for Jazz Trumpet, and the Yamaha Young Performing Artist, has recorded four CDs, performed at venues from Oakland, California to Washington, D.C., and mentored hundreds of students at jazz clinics. For Frenay, the highlights of his musical career include recording with Bob Mintzer and appearing as a featured soloist alongside Herbie Hancock at the 2009 Grammy Salute to Jazz. Aside from his primary instrument, Frenay also plays trombone, piano, bass guitar, and drums, and is developing his ability as a vocalist. 

When Hayden Hamilton was 10 years old, he realized there was nothing he would rather do than play drums. His middle school years in Sugar Land, Texas, were spent as a percussionist for the Honors band, playing for churches, and in various rock bands. Attending the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts was the turning point in his musical career, presenting opportunities to perform in Canada, Hawaii, and locations across the U.S. Hamilton has recorded with two bands, even providing vocals for one, and playing in front of MTV's cameras with the other. Because of his devotion to drumming and music, Berklee was the only school he applied to.

West Jefferson, Ohio, native Chase Potter has participated in over 350 musical performances, across all genres. Potter began playing violin at age 4 and alto sax at 11. Chase is a studio and stage sideman for various artists in the Columbus, Ohio, area, and has written more than 40 compositions. Over the years, Potter has performed with many top jazz players from Ohio, including Bobby Floyd, Jim Masters, and Doug Richeson. In 2010, he performed nine concerts in Peru with Wess "Warmdaddy" Anderson and the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra. He also attended Berklee's 2010 Five-Week Summer Jazz Workshop.

As the son of two musicians, Davis Whitfield's early years were filled with music. He began playing the guitar at age 5, and moved to New York at 8 where he began studying the piano. While attending high school, Whitfield was accepted by the Jersey City University Visual and Performing Arts Program and served as the principal pianist in its jazz ensemble for four years. In 2008, Whitfield became the associate director for the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra, writing arrangements and performing weekly at the Jazz Standard in New York City. Whitfield received full scholarships to attend the Berklee Summer Jazz Workshop in 2009 and 2010. He also received a scholarship from the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts.

Diversity and opportunity are the twin pillars of the Presidential Scholarship initiative. "As a private college, we're expensive for a family without a lot of income," says Berklee President Roger H. Brown. "The added challenges in this difficult time might make higher education seem inaccessible to a student. If we want to continue to be the place where the finest contemporary musicians gather regardless of socioeconomic status, we have to work to make sure it's possible for them to get here, and then stay here."

Presidential Scholarships were first awarded for students attending in the fall of 2005, and more are added annually. There are currently 27 Presidential Scholars studying at Berklee. The college's board of trustees believes so deeply in the initiative that it has approved the use of $1.5 million from the college's endowment to fund the program.

To be considered for a Presidential Scholarship, students must first apply to Berklee and complete the audition and interview process. Candidates who qualify for a full-tuition scholarship based on their audition and interview will be notified that they have been nominated for a Presidential Scholarship and will be asked to complete an application for need-based financial aid.  More information can be found online at berklee.edu or by calling the Scholarship Office at 617 747-8681 or email scholarships@berklee.edu.