Berklee Percussion Festival

June 16-20, 2014

What's the program like?

Whether you play drum set, hand percussion, orchestral percussion, vibraphone, marimba, or steelpan, participating in the Berklee Percussion Festival will take your technical, conceptual, and performance skill levels to new heights. The festival will expose you to practical methods in rhythmic awareness, improvisation, repertoire development, and ensemble techniques. 

The program’s curriculum include principal instrument and ensemble classes in the following areas of specialty: jazz drum set, rock drum set, fusion drum set, funk drum set, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian drum set, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian hand percussion, West African hand percussion, orchestral percussion, vibraphone, marimba, and steelpan.

Aside from the hands-on instruction from our world-class faculty, the Berklee Percussion Festival also offers a diverse array of educational and performance-based activities, including concerts, clinics, and master classes presented by such renowned guest artists as Harvey Mason, Victor Lewis, and Calixto Oviedo Mulens. Additionally, students in the program will have the opportunity to participate in nightly jam sessions in a wide range of musical styles.

If you are also interested in enrolling at Berklee full time, there are several benefits to attending the Percussion Festival:

  • find out what it takes to succeed in music and at Berklee;
  • study with Berklee faculty;
  • learn about admission, audition, and scholarship requirements;
  • get a head start on your full-time studies; and
  • get to know Boston, New England's hub of culture and academia.

Who are the instructors?

All classes and ensembles will be taught by members of Berklee's internationally renowned percussion faculty, as well as by visiting artists.

Visiting Artists

Past guest artists have included Will Calhoun, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Trichy Sankaran, Steve Smith, Dafnis Prieto, Pete Locket, Francisco Mela, and Pedro Martinez. This year's visiting artists are:


Harvey Mason

As one of popular music’s most renowned drummers, Harvey Mason has amassed an incredible resume that befits a legendary performer. He possesses the rare ability to play with a wide range of musicians in a variety of styles, from high-grade, straight-up pop to stimulating, straight-ahead jazz to smooth, R&B-flavored jazz. This behind-the-scenes star continues to deliver stylistic innovation as a master of the drum set. Learn more.


Calixto Oviedo Mulens

Calixto Oviedo’s career spans 38 years. He was the drummer with NG La Banda during the period that produced many of the band’s greatest recordings, including Santa Palabra, Échale Limón, and El Trágico. In the mid-‘90s, he relocated to Sweden, during which time he made an excellent Timba recording, La Recompensa, with his son Yulién and other key members of Charanga Habanera. Learn more.



Gustavo Beaujardin

At the age of nine, Gustavo Beaujardin embarked upon his musical journey as a student of piano and then percussion. Within a short time, he was introduced to audiences as a percussionist in a local symphonic band focusing on timpani, orchestral percussion, and drum set. In his early teen years, Gustavo began to play professionally throughout south Florida. Learn more.





Tomas Cruz

Tomas Cruz is a Havana-born virtuoso with a 20-year career in music. At an early age, he studied at the Vocational School of Arts in Pinar del Río, Cuba, where he graduated after studying percussion and piano. He continued his percussion training with José Luis Quintana, also known as “Changuito,” studying trombone, music history, and vocals at the National School of Arts in Cuba. Learn more.



Victor Lewis

Internationally acclaimed drummer and composer Victor Lewis was born to two classically trained musicians and grew up hearing jazz along with popular and European classical music at home, and would go to the local theater with his father to hear the big bands when they passed through his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. The first people he remembers seeing were Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Woody Herman. Learn more.


Marcus SantosMarcus Santos

Bahia, Brazil native Marcus Santos is a contemporary percussionist and educator. He commits his life to the study, teaching, and performance of his hometown’s Afro-Brazilian music and heritage. Santos has performed for the president of Brazil, at TEDx, and on a Telemundo program produced by MTV. He has also played for Sony Pictures’ Oscar-nominated film Rachel Getting Married with Anne Hathaway. Learn more.






Berklee Faculty

Percussion Department chair: John Ramsay
Assistant chair: Yoron Israel

Gustavo Agatiello

Sergio Bellotti

Eguie Castrillo

Henrique deAlmeida

Ernesto Diaz

Larry Finn

Richard Flanagan

Skip Hadden

Yoron Israel

Bob Kaufman

Jerry Leake

Bertram Lehmann

Ricardo Monzon

Alberto Netto

Kim Plainfield

Mike Ringquist

Ed Saindon

Dave Samuels

Jackie Santos

Casey Scheuerell

Neal Smith

Bob Tamagni

Mark Walker

Dave Weigert

Nancy Zeltsman

Featured Artists

Yoron Israel

Yoron Israel’s varied credentials and illustrious career includes five recordings as a leader and hundreds of recordings as an accompanist. His recordings as a solo artist include the newly released Visions – The Music of Stevie Wonder, which is among Jazz Week’s top 100 recordings of 2012. Previous releases on his label Ronja Music are A Gift for You and Basic Traneing. The latter reached number three on the National Jazz Charts in 2004. When not leading his own ensembles (Organic, Connection, and High Standards), Yoron performs regularly with bassist Avery Sharpe and vibraphonist Jay Hoggard as well as with numerous leading Boston-based artists such as Laszlo Gardony, Gabrielle Goodman, and the Makanda Project.


Dave Samuels

Dave Samuels has established himself as the top mallet player of his generation. He is recognized for his fresh sound and creative approach to both the vibraphone and marimba. Samuels has demonstrated his versatility and gained world wide recognition by performing and recording with a broad scope of artists ranging from Gerry Mulligan, Oscar Peterson, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Carla Bley, and Pat Metheny to Yellowjackets, Bruce Hornsby, Frank Zappa, the Fantasy Band, and Spyro Gyra.

For more than a decade, Samuels has been performing and recording with his group the Caribbean Jazz Project, whose most recent album, Afro Bop Alliance, received a Grammy nomination and a Latin Grammy award. Its recording, The Gathering, won the Grammy in 2003 for Best Latin Jazz Album. Samuels is also a member of Double Image, a vibe-marimba duo consisting of Dave Samuels and David Friedman, who have performed for 30 years. Samuels’ longtime association with Spyro Gyra lasted from 1977 to 1994 and includes 20 recordings. During that time, the Grammy-nominated group was named No. 1 Contemporary Jazz Artist and Contemporary Jazz Group of the 1980s by Billboard magazine.

What's the schedule?

The festival begins Monday, June 16, with registration and auditions in the morning, master classes and faculty concerts throughout the day, and a special evening faculty concert. Tuesday through Thursday will feature the following:

  • two hours of class on your principal instrument;
  • a one-hour styles class on instruments related to your principal instrument (including a rhythm section in each class);
  • nightly jam sessions and repertoire classes in all styles; and
  • a final student jam session on Friday.

Other highlights include rhythm classes on drum set through the 1960s and since the 1960s, a steelpan concert, a hip-hop ensemble workshop, an Afro-Cuban music clinic, a concert percussion clinic, faculty concerts, and visiting artist clinics and performances. There will be ongoing percussion industry exhibits each day at which you can see the latest instruments, equipment, and educational materials.

The final day of the festival will include student concerts, a faculty clinic performance, a closing ceremony, a featured R&B clinic performance and the Faculty Blowout Concert. Family and friends are welcome to attend the last day's activities by requesting free tickets from the Percussion Department.

Do I need to bring an instrument?

All percussion instruments, except steelpan, will be available for use in classrooms, ensembles, and jam sessions. There are also limited practice facilities available for Percussion Festival participants. However, drummers and mallet players need to bring their own sticks, brushes, and mallets. Some students may be more comfortable bringing their own bass drum pedals. We discourage drummers from bringing their own cymbals due to the fact that all Berklee cymbals and cymbal stands are locked. Also, we suggest bringing music manuscript paper and notebooks for keeping notes.

Where will I eat and sleep?

Applicants will be sent information and an application for residence hall housing once accepted into the program. Most program participants elect to stay in the Berklee residence halls; however, space is limited. To optimize your chances for on-campus housing, you must return the housing application immediately upon receiving it.

To be eligible to live in the residence hall, you must be 15 years of age by the start of the program. If you apply to the program after mid-May, please call the Housing Office at 617 747-2292 to find out if residence hall space is still available.