Alumni Profiles

Alumni
Pianist, Composer, Music Director, Conductor
Class of 2005 (Piano)

Cian McCarthy’s claim to fame may be that he was once the youngest conductor on Broadway, but his future is likely to hold many more accolades. This composer, conductor, music director, and pianist has had a hand in some of the most successful, award-winning Broadway shows of the past decade, including In the Heights, The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, and Hamilton.

Alumni
Drummer
Class of 2005 (Percussion)
Nikki Glaspie '05

Nikki Glaspie, who traveled the world as the drummer in superstar Beyoncé's all-woman backup band, has honed a clear vision of herself and others as musicians. She credits her years at Berklee, from which she graduated in 2005, and performing in Boston in leading her to that vision.

Alumni
Saxophonist
Class of 2009 (Woodwinds)

Melissa Aldana, a rising star in the world of saxophone and the first female instrumentalist to win the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, has said she doesn’t think about shattering glass ceilings in her career. The native of Chile, who attended Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, just felt privileged to compete with “all these great young musicians.”

Alumni
Pan Flutist
Class of 1998 (Professional Music)

Panpipe virtuoso Damian Draghici ’98 swapped a celebrated music career for a seat in the European Parliament to campaign for Roma rights.

Alumni
Guitarist/Composer
Class of 1999 (Guitar)

A member of the class of 1999 and an entrepreneurial visionary in the business of creative music and education, Prasanna was voted among the top 50 creative Indians by Open Magazine.

Alumni
Jazz Clarinetist
Class of 2012 (Woodwinds)

Norwegian-born jazz clarinetist Felix Peikli '12 released his expansive debut album, Royal Flush, in 2015; the album features an all-alumni quintet and appearances from Lee Hogans, Marcus Miller, and Albino Mbie '13.

Alumni
Berklee India Exchange, Managing Director
Class of 1998

A native of Mumbai, India, and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Clint Valladares serves as the managing director of the Berklee India Exchange. Since joining Berklee as a staff member in 2009, Valladares built capacity within the Berklee City Music Network®, a network of community organizations across the United States and Canada committed to delivering high-quality contemporary music instruction to youth from underserved communities, to create a richer consortium of like-minded organizations.

Alumni
Guitarist; Composer
Class of 1973 (Guitar)

A master of his art, John Scofield has been a major figure in the guitar world since the 1970s. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1973, he set out on a stellar career, playing music that ranges from jazz to funk to R&B. For more than four decades, he has been a major jazz influence as a guitarist and composer.

Alumni
Saxophonist
Class of 1988 (Woodwinds)
Donny McCaslin '88 at the Regattabar, January 27, 2016

Donny McCaslin ’88 is perhaps best known as the saxophonist on David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar, released days before the singer’s death in early 2016. But McCaslin’s life as a musician stretches back to playing with his father’s band at age 12 in California as well as to years in the New York jazz world.

Alumni
Orchestrator; Arranger; Pianist
Class of 1995 (Professional Music, Piano)

Alex Lacamoire, who graduated from Berklee in 1995, has earned Tony Awards for his orchestration work on musicals Hamilton and In the Heights.

Alumni
Drummer, Living Colour

After graduating with honors from Berklee, Will Calhoun '86 went on to chart-topping success with rock band Living Colour and has played with jazz icons as well as African village masters in his lifelong exploration of the ancient art of drumming.

Alumni
Saxophonist
Class of 1981 (Woodwinds)

Donald Harrison Jr. ’81 has combined a whirlwind career as a saxophonist with establishing cultural and educational traditions in his native New Orleans, Louisiana. Known for creating nouveau swing, a jazz style that combines R&B, funk, hip-hop, and African dance, Harrison tours all over the world and has many albums and honors to his name.

Alumni
Singer; Film Scorer; Composer
Class of 2008 (Film Scoring)

Banda Magda, founded by Greek-born singer, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou '08 and joined by several Berklee alumni, deftly melds styles from samba to Greek folk to Columbian cumbia and has caught the attention of everyone from Kronos Quartet to Louis C.K.

Alumni
Psychedelic Pop Band

Avers, from Richmond Virginia, offers an ethereal swirl of psychedelic pop, shoegaze and garage rock, featuring alumni Alexandra Spalding '09 (Professional Music) and Adrian Olsen '08 (Music Business & Management / MP&E), who also serves as producer/engineer, recording most of the album material in his studio, Montrose Recording.

Alumni
Jazz Trumpet Player
Class of 1989 (Brass)

Grammy-winning trumpet player Roy Hargrove ’89 studied at Berklee just as his career was taking off. Although best known for his jazz skills, he excels at any genre he touches, working with diverse artists such as Angelique Kidjo, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and John Mayer '98.

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter
Class of 2011 (Voice, Professional Music)

Kiesza, whose full name is Kiesa Rae Ellestad, blazed into fame after her YouTube video “Hideaway” received nearly 60 million views in 2014.

Alumni
Media and Operations Manager, BPMI

New Jersey native and bassist Jeff Apruzzese '08 studied music business/management at Berklee. In his final semester, he cofounded the indie-electronica group Passion Pit, and spent the next eight years playing to festivals and stadiums with the band.

 

Alumni
Drummer
Class of 1968 (Percussion)

Drummer Harvey Mason ’68 has worked with a Who’s Who of musicians, playing with everyone from Bob James to Chick Corea to Lee Ritenour to George Benson. He has toured with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters and been in the Mizell Brothers' productions with Donald Byrd, Johnny Hammond, Bobbi Humphrey, and Gary Bartz. His drum duet with percussionist Ralph MacDonald on Benson’s hit “On Broadway” shows off his style, and his beats have been samples for the Notorious B.I.G. and P. Diddy, among others.

Alumni
Jazz Pianist
Class of 1994 (Jazz Composition)

Lester Menezes '94 studied jazz composition at Berklee. He formed a trio in his name with Dominique Girod and Norbert Pfammatter, to focus on sensitively interpreting his original repertoire and later expand with music from other sources. 

Alumni
Assistant Manager, Berklee India Exchange
Class of 2016

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Rohith Jayaraman is a vocalist, composer, arranger, and percussionist who specializes in Carnatic (South Indian classical) vocal music and vocal percussion. As a student at Berklee College of Music, he was also one of the early members of the college’s renowned Berklee Indian Ensemble, arranging and composing for the group. After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in music therapy in 2016, Jayaraman became the assistant manager of the Berklee India Exchange.

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