Great results sometimes come through serendipitous meetings. The success of contemporary composer Roberto Toscano might be traced to an introduction to late Berklee professor Vuk Kulenovic when Toscano was a Berklee student. After that, the young Brazilian changed his direction from guitar to composing, studying intensely with Kulenovic.
Jazz percussionist and composer Marco Pacassoni has performed with Michel Camilo, Alex Acuna, Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, and Steve Smith, and is an educator and author in his native Italy.
A globally acclaimed Palestinian cellist, Naseem Alatrash is a sonic product of his upbringing in the Middle East. An accomplished classically trained musician and improviser in diverse styles, Alatrash has earned a reputation for fearlessly broadening the horizons of the cello on the world stage.
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. When she returned to Berklee in 2012 to speak about her success as a professional drummer, producer, and arranger, she explained, "Being a musician is not only something that you do, it's something that you are." She added that it takes discipline and dedication to pursue something as complex as music.
Hailey Niswanger’s trajectory as a jazz saxophonist resembles that of a shooting star. The young musician graduated in 2011 after studying jazz performance on a full scholarship. But by that time, she had already released the album, Confeddie, that prompted jazz critic Nat Hentoff to proclaim the 19 year old as part of the future of jazz. She had won a Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award in saxophone and played in a festival in Washington, D.C.
Game of Thrones has been a megahit on television, and in the world of music, Ramin Djawadi's score for the show has earned accolades from critics. When Djawadi, a 1998 summa cum laude Berklee graduate, first came to the college, he concentrated on guitar and wanted to perform. But Berklee broadened his perspective. “The music I was writing lent itself to film,” he said in a Berklee interview. “Film music is a big passion of mine. Berklee showed me I could do both.”
Watch a video interview with Ramin Djawadi:
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.
Film and television composer Jessica Rae Huber B.M. '12 has created additional music for projects such as The Walking Dead, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Outlander, and has worked with composer Bear McCreary as assistant composer and scoring manager for his music production company, Sparks and Shadows. "I love telling stories. It's my way to be involved in the way our culture consumes really good stories, and that's what I'm passionate about," Huber said over the phone in her adopted home of Los Angeles. "I love being a part of that process."
Tali Rubinstein is an extraordinary recorder player, vocalist and composer from Israel. Her contemporary music, unique sound, and outstanding performances make her a promising new talent in the jazz and world music scene.
The daughter of Donny Hathaway, the late soul legend, Lalah Hathaway has forged her own way in music, using a lovely contralto to pursue various styles that mix R&B, jazz, and pop. She's also a pianist who won three Grammys in three years: best R&B performance for “Something” with Snarky Puppy in 2014; best traditional R&B performance for “Jesus Children” with Robert Glasper in 2015; and best traditional R&B performance for “Little Ghetto Boy” in 2016.
Maddie Rice has proven to be a young musician to watch. As a 2014 Berklee College of Music graduate with a burgeoning pop-rock career in electric guitar, she was chosen in 2015 to be part of the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. As a member of Stay Human, Jon Batiste’s band, Rice adds to the group’s unique blend of jazz, funk, and pop.
Trumpet player and arranger Rashawn Ross ’00 is probably best known as a touring member of the Dave Matthews Band, but his range of experiences is not confined to one group. Hailing from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, he knew while he was still in high school that music was his calling. He took to performing with local dance and calypso bands, and after high school, he came to Berklee to study. After graduation, he was working as a session musician when he played on stage with the Dave Matthews Band for the first time in June of 2005.
Michael Gandolfi combines a deep understanding of classical music with an equally rich background in rock, blues, and jazz to create his stunning compositions. His distinctively contemporary music distills all of his experiences to produce works that have been performed and recorded by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, and many more.
Jazz saxophonist, flautist, and composer Greg Abate '71 played lead alto saxophone in the Ray Charles Orchestra in the early '70s after completing his studies at Berklee, and has since recorded more than 16 albums.
Known for his virtuosity and style, Steve Vai has had a long and enviable career as a guitarist, singer, composer, and producer.
For the last 23 years, Hans Schuman B.M. ’90 has been at the helm of his New York City–based nonprofit organization JazzReach, crisscrossing the nation with passion and tenacity to introduce hundreds of thousands of young people to jazz music. He’s just wrapped the organization’s 2016–2017 season of educational programming and is preparing to embark on an ambitious, summer-long capacity-building campaign that aims to take the organization into the next exciting phase of its history and mission.
The Regiment Horns is a group comprising three Berklee alumni: Sean Erick ‘06 (trumpet, flugelhorn), Kevin Lloyd Williams Jr. ’03 (flute, tuba, trombone), and Leon Silva Jr. ‘07 (saxophone). The three men met at Berklee but didn’t form the band until they had all graduated and moved to Los Angeles.
We first encountered Hannah Christianson B.M. '13 at a meditative yoga class, tipped off that she may be a Berklee alumna as her ethereal vocals and soulful ukulele ushered the packed class at the Boston YMCA into a state of zen. Christianson, who also works as a teacher, producer, and performer, talked to us over the phone in June 2017 during an apprenticeship in upstate New York.
Chilean piano player and composer Orión Morales worked with Danilo Pérez and Patricia Pérez, inspired by their work in Chile, Panama, and Boston, before being accepted to the Berklee Global Jazz Institute graduate program. Now he is the vice-chair of Projazz in Chile, the leading music institution of his country and Berklee's international partner.