Rock Showcase Showdown

By
Elisabeth Nicula
July 25, 2009

Four Massachusetts teenagers won scholarships to attend Berklee College of Music Summer Programs at the Center for Arts in Natick's Rock Off Main Street Rock Showdown.

Of the 40 bands that entered the contest, 12 were chosen to compete at the final round in April. Alex Kwumuntis of Peabody, Terence Healy of Wilmington, Motoki Otsuka of Newton, and Justin Ringler of Bolton were awarded scholarships, cofunded by Berklee and TCAN, for their outstanding musicianship. At the Five-Week Summer Performance Program, the Berklee Percussion Festival, and Guitar Sessions, they're with students from all over the world who sharpen their playing or singing skills in private lessons, ensembles, and concert performances, and attend lectures and master classes.

Alex Kwumuntis and Terence Healy play together in the generalization-averse but alternative rock-esque band One Step Away. Kwumuntis, a drummer, used his scholarship to attend the Berklee Percussion Festival in June. Describing the experience, Kwumuntis says, "I learned so many things about my principal instrument and music. . . I have to say that it was the best opportunity and experience of my life so far." Guitarist Healy's Berklee experience will follow in August, when he is set to attend Guitar Sessions. Kwumuntis, Healy, and the rest of One Step Away currently attend St. John's Prep in Danvers.

Drummer Motoki Otsuka of the experimental electronic indie rock group Vitamin Seed is currently attending the Five-Week Summer Performance Program. His bandmates and fellow Newton South High School students Pat Walsh (synth, samples, and percussion) and Zach Levine-Caleb (bass and vocals), will also spend time at Berklee this summer: Both won Berklee Summer Program scholarships at the 15th Annual WBCN/Berklee College of Music Battle of the High School Bands in April. Otsuka plans to delay college for a year to tour and record an album with Vitamin Seed.

Drummer Justin Ringler, of the post-hardcore band Blindfolds Aside, will also attend the Five-Week Program.

A fifth student, Jessica Prouty of Marblehead, had already won a scholarship along with the rest of the Jessica Prouty Band at the WCBN/Berklee College of Music Battle of the High School Bands, and was also recognized at the Rock Showdown.