Flamenco Artists Receive Mediterranean Music Award

By
Agustina Covian
June 18, 2014
Matthew Nicholl, Pepe Habichuela, Jose Mercé, and Javier Limón
MMI executive director Matthew Nicholl with flamenco singer José Mercé
Luciernagamagenta
Paco Manzano

Madrid's Casa Patas Foundation, the mecca of flamenco in Spain, hosted the first edition of the Masters of Mediterranean Music Awards June 18. In a full house, with an audience of top flamenco artists and music industry notables, Berklee’s Mediterranean Music Institute (MMI) directors Matthew Nicholl and Javier Limón gave the inaugural award to flamenco singer José Mercé and guitarist Pepe Habichuela.

The MMI brings together performers, artists, teachers, scholars, and students of Mediterranean-based musical styles to research, study, and perform, thereby gaining insight and experiences that will lead to the formulation of pedagogical standards. It stimulates cultural exchange of the folk-based music traditions of the various regions of the Mediterranean, internationally promotes these traditions, and supports young and emerging talent from the area. This year is the first it is granting its Master of Mediterranean Music Award. 

After the award ceremony, Spanish saxophonist Juan Antonio Garcia Illanas accompanied a group of Berklee students along, Greek singer Eleni Aragoplou, and Greek laouto player Vasileios Kostas in a short Greek repertoire representing the links in the Mediterranean musical cultures.

“I am deeply moved to receive this award by such an important university like Berklee and I would like to dedicate it to flamenco,” Pepe Habichuela said. “The most important thing is that a university like Berklee gets filled with flamenco music."  

Upon receiving his award, Mercé said, “I am very happy. It’s a great responsibility to receive this award, a marvelous responsibility, and I hope we carry it out with the same dignity we have put in all our work.”

Artists Antonio Carmona, Montse Cortes, Silvia Perez Cruz, and Luis Cobos were among the audience. The award is a handmade wooden representation of the MMI’s logo, made by the renowned luthier Vicente Carrillo. The making of this very special award was conceived following the shape of the MMI logo, representing the back of an oud. For this craft, Vicente Carrillo, an internationally renowned flamenco guitar maker was the perfect choice.

The event received extensive press coverage in national newspapers, and on television and radio.