Berklee Global Jazz Institute Visits Benin and Togo

By 
Berklee Office of Communications
March 13, 2013
Patrick Simmard shows camera to children in Benin.
Marco Pignataro visits the Salesiane Sisters Abandoned Children mission in Cotonou.
Edmar Colon
Danilo Pérez in Ouidah, Benin
BGJI Students at the Salesiane Sisters Abandoned Children mission in Cotonou
BGJI student Caili O'Doherty teaching piano students at CIAMO School in Ouidah
Edmar Colon, Marco Pignataro, and Danilo Perez after concert in Benin
Jared Henderson at CIAMO
Caili O'Doherty
BGJI Students concert at High School in Togo
BGJI faculty, administrators, and students with Dave Gilmour, director, AF/PDPA
Jorge Perez Albela
Sergio Martinez at CIAMO
Photos by Marco Pignataro

A group of faculty and student musicians from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI) recently visited Benin and Togo for a series of concerts, clinics, and music workshops. Led by Grammy-award winning pianist and Berklee professor Danilo Pérez, the BGJI delighted audiences with a musical virtuosity that was infused with multicultural influences from around the world.

The group’s visit to Benin featured a day-long master class and jam session for 75 Beninese musicians; an outreach trip to a school for abandoned children; a concert at the American Cultural Center for more than 300 people; and clinics and performances at CIAMO, an arts school in the historic town of Ouidah. In Togo, the Berklee musicians played at schools, conducted workshops, and performed for VIPs and alumni in a gala concert at the ambassador’s residence.

Benin and Togo are neighboring countries in West Africa and are primarily French-speaking nations; they've produced such artists as composer Wally Badarou, singer Gnonnas Pedro, singer Angelique Kidjo, and King Mensah.