Alumni Profiles

Alumni
Jazz Saxophonist; Flutist; Composer; Arranger

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.

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
Game Audio Production Studio
The Hexany Audio team in 2018

Formed in 2012 by a team of Berklee graduates, Hexany Audio specializes in music production, sound design, and voice-over for video games.

Alumni
Bassist; Violinist; Saxophonist
Class of 1970 (Bass)

George Mraz came to Berklee in 1968 by way of the Czech Republic. Since coming to the United States,  he has been an in-demand bassist, playing with a host of jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, and Charles Mingus and garnering credits on almost 1,000 recordings.

Alumni
Rock Band

The Shills, featuring MP&E grads Dave Sicilian '06 and James Zaner '06, have been a leading force in the Boston rock scene for a decade, and were recently listed as No. 1 in Vents Magazine's top-ten list of Boston bands.

Alumni
Pianist; Vocalist; Composer
Class of 2014

Tal Even-Tzur, an Israeli pianist, vocalist, and composer with delicate yet modern harmonizations in her playing and her compositions, is an outstanding musician with a promising career ahead.

Alumni
Composer/Saxophonist
Class of 1981 (Composition, Jazz Composition, , Woodwinds)
Daniel Schnyder with his saxophone
The Backstory

Daniel Schnyder '81 grew up in Switzerland in the ‘60s and ‘70s. His mother was a professor of French and history, and his father was an archaeologist, art history professor, and a musician in his spare time who would frequently bring home bizarre and foreign instruments from all over the world, particularly the Middle East.

Alumni
Drummer
Class of 1976 (Percussion)
Steve Smith’s career proves how varied a life in drumming can be. Famous as the drummer for the legendary band Journey, he has combined the rock arena life with leading a group dedicated to preserving the great jazz traditions, teaching drum clinics all over the world, recording many albums, and delving into South India’s rhythmic vocal art form called konnakol. 
 
Alumni
Cellist
Class of 2014

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.

Alumni
Musical technology specialist; composer
Class of 2005

Kevin Doucette '05 enjoys a thriving career in Los Angeles and India, working with A. R. Rahman and other notable Indian musicians. 

Alumni
Guitarist
Class of 2014 (Guitar)

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.

Alumni
Gil Smith II plays a keyboard

Gil Smith II '99 has the reputation of being the go-to music director for the live shows of multiple artists including Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga as well as many K-pop groups including BIGBANG and 2NE1. We managed to catch him on the phone between two gigs, and he shared some insight on how he wound up in such an illustrious career.

Alumni
Manager, CEO, and Cofounder, New Torch Entertainment
Class of 2012 (Music Business/Management)

Ethan Schiff gets to make dreams come true. As manager, CEO, and cofounder of New Torch Entertainment (which he created with another Berklee alumnus, Nick Susi '12), he works to help artists reach their musical and career goals. Schiff has always loved music, as well as assisting people in making their music and getting it heard, so artist management seemed to be a natural career fit.

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.

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, In the Heights, and Dear Evan Hansen.

Alumni
Jazz Violinist; Composer
Class of 2003 (Strings)

Mads Tolling’s path was set at age 14 when his father gave him a Miles Davis cassette. The native of Copenhagen, Denmark, so identified with the freedom and spirit of  ‘60s jazz that he set on a path to bend his instrument, the violin, to that music. At age 20 he came to the United States to Berklee College of Music to pursue jazz studies, graduating summa cum laude in 2003.

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter
Class of 2006 (Voice)

Matt Nakoa came to Berklee on a scholarship, and studied with songwriting greats Pat Pattison and Livingston Taylor before graduating in 2006 and continuing his career as a folk singer-songwriter.

Alumni
QA/Curation Coordinator at Spotify
Class of 2013 (Music Business/Management)

Music has been a constant element in Athena Koumis’s life since she began playing the violin when she was 4 years old. She has since performed and recorded with several orchestras and bands, and in college began DJing and producing music. “I felt that I needed to be more informed of what was going on in the industry and wanted to learn from experts in the field while widening my professional network.

Alumni
Singer-songwriter
Class of 2012

Vasuda Sharma was a pop star in India when she decided to come to Berklee and learn how to forge a new path.

Alumni
Singer-Songwriter; Producer

In an earlier era, musicians came to prominence in smoky clubs in the big cities. Now online vehicles provide other channels. For Charlie Puth, it was YouTube. Already a dedicated singer-songwriter, at age 18 he started his own YouTube channel, Charlie Vlogs. Ellen DeGeneres and others noticed, and soon Puth’s songs such as “Someone Like You” became mainstream.

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