Alum Notes: Fall 2021

The most recent news from your fellow alumni. 

October 7, 2021


Harry Drabkin B.M. of Denver, CO, taught at Berklee from 1970 to 1972. He later became a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, and then the chief of hematology-oncology at the Medical University of South Carolina, retiring in 2017. He’s now a part-time physician and jazz musician.


Greg Abate

Greg Abate

Greg Abate of Coventry, RI, makes a full-time living as a jazz artist. He is featured in DownBeat magazine’s Critics Poll, in the alto sax category. 


David Vose B.M. of Cape Neddick, ME, was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

Kevin Driscoll

Kevin Driscoll

Kevin Driscoll B.M. of Framingham, MA, was awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant in 2021 for his weekly Facebook Live event, Drumming with Dummies.

Jon Damian, Berklee alumnus and professor emeritus, released his fourth book, Welcome to Harmonyville 01625. Harmonyville is a town whose residents are chord symbols infused with life through Damian’s illustrations and narration. The book is available at


Cathy Segal-Garcia of Granada Hills, CA, released four singles in the summer of 2020: “Make Me Wanna Holler,” “Sermonette,” “Get Together,” and “And So It Goes.”


James Ricci B.M. of Chapel Hill, NC, a Berklee faculty member from 2012 to 2013, released an album of his piano music, TROY1875 (Albany Records), performed by Grammy nominee David Holzman. Ricci’s albums Rune and Night Music were recorded by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and will be released in 2022.

John Russo B.M. of Shrewsbury, MA, is the coleader of the Russo Bros Jazz Quintet after retiring from being a music educator and music director for 35 years at Assabet Valley High School in Massachusetts.


James M. Giunta of Phoenix, AZ, is a professional musician and hypnotist who uses music to facilitate hypnotic trance. He is the original creator of Hyp+Note=Therapy, a new genre, and presented his findings at TEDx Navesink, in New Jersey, in 2014.

Tony Corman B.M. of Berkeley, CA, has an original string quartet, Pifanos, which was recorded by members of the Cosa Nostra Strings. A piece they recorded, based on the folkloric scale typically used by the fife-and-drum street bands of northern Brazil, was released as a video. 


Clair Marlo

Clair Marlo

Clair Marlo B.M. of Encino, CA, is a multiplatinum songwriter, composer, and sound designer who owns Score Dogs Music. Her catalog includes 4,500 compositions for film, TV, and radio for Universal, Sony, EMI, and major networks. She is working on her fourth album and a production music library.

David Young

David Young

David Young B.M. of Decatur, GA, created an interactive guidance school counseling program, Wha Cha Wanna Do, which allows kids to work their way through three moral dilemmas, choosing various ways to react and seeing the consequences of each decision. This is Young's ninth school counseling product.

Tonia King of Northfield, MA, hosts a two-hour internationally syndicated radio program, Jazz Variations, which was renewed for the 15th year. It airs a mix of jazz, R&B, funk, blues, and more, featuring interviews and special music features. It welcomes submissions for airplay from Berklee alumni, faculty, and students.


Albert Estiamba Jr. of Redondo Beach, CA, has self-released a new CD with the Brian Buckley Band, Love Costs, with Buckley (vocals, acoustic guitar), Mike McGraw (electric guitars, background vocals), Krishnan Swaminathan (bass guitar, background vocals), and Estiamba (drums, percussion, background vocals). 

Benjamin Smeall B.M. of Green Bay, WI, released his latest music video, an original song based on Andean themes, with Duo Los Golondrinos. The piece is by Benjamín Dos Agilas (vocals, fretless electric bass, violin, charango, and production) and is performed by the duo, a father-son collaboration. 


Gina Biver

Gina Biver

Gina Biver B.M. of Richmond, VA, released a new album, NIMBUS (Neuma Records), with her group Fuse Ensemble. To create NIMBUS for electroacoustic chamber ensemble, voice, and spoken word, Biver collaborated with poet Colette Inez. This is her fifth album of modern works, and the fourth with Fuse Ensemble. 


Bernard Gallone of Presles, France, released an album of acoustic vocal jazz, Almost Blue (Acel). The band, KLGO, is Lexie Kendrik (vocals), Seb Lovato (keyboards), Ichiro Onoe '83 (drums), and Gallone (double bass). See its cover of Kate Bush's "Babooshka."


Dana Friedman

Dana Friedman

Dana Friedman B.M. of New York, NY, produced, cowrote, and performed a long-form comedy and music video, FunOrthodox, for Eshel, an organization providing support for LGBTQ+ orthodox Jews. The show was hosted by Mayim Bialik.


John McTigue B.M. of Nashville, TN, released his solo debut album, It's About Time, in July. He is a member of Carlene Carter's band, the Lucky Ones, plays with the Cowpokes, and continues to perform on Nashville's Lower Broadway when not on the road. 


Ole Mathisen B.M. of New York, NY, was appointed director of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program in July. Mathisen is an educator and a jazz and saxophone enthusiast devoted to exploring rhythm and pitch. In 2020, he wrote a book of saxophone studies, Book of Mirrors (Norsk Musikforlag).


Anthony Ryon B.M. of Hopedale, MA, is a composer, engineer, producer, drummer, bassist, guitarist, and singer. He writes and records his material in his home studio. His albums are Mission Orange, Seven of Six Are Four, Modern Technology, and Blue. His material has appeared on WBUR's Morning Edition


Peter Vantine B.M. of Worcester, MA, completed virtual audio and a video recording of seven-movement cantata, Vita Aeterna, for choir and orchestra with nearly 100 vocalists and instrumentalists from around the world. It premiered in August.


Adonis Aletras B.M. of Aglantzia, Cyprus, cowrote the music for the Investigation Discovery TV series Murder in the Heartland.


Christopher J. Vibberts of Petaluma, CA, released his third album as Chrystal Für, Elusion, featuring Belgium's Echo Collective, in May. It’s an elegy to the cycle of loss and acceptance, and the promise of restored life. Piano interweaves with waves of sound and intermittent shards of static, representing nostalgia and hope.

Reg Bloor

Reg Bloor

Reg Bloor of New York, NY, livestreams every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. ET on Twitch.  


Leopoldo Jesus Vasquez of Bogotá, Colombia, works at a financial institution, although he still plays for fun every day.

Paulo Tozzi of São Paulo, Brazil, was a finalist in the 2020 USA Songwriting Competition.

Shinya Miyamoto

Shinya Miyamoto

Shinya Miyamoto of Flushing, NY, is mixing for Japanese rock band Godiego using its original 24- and 16-track tapes. "The Galaxy Express 999" was a big hit in 1979, and the new mix, released this summer, climbed to no. 12 on Other mixes are set to release this fall. 

Takuya Hirano B.M. of Los Angeles, CA, was featured on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers as the first percussionist to sit in with the 8G Band for their guest drummer series. He also released his debut album, Taku Hirano—Blu York: Live in NYC (Ropeadope Records).


Stefynie Rosenfeld of Hawthorne, NY, was the post-production audio engineer and music placement editor for Hope Road, a Little Wolf Productions documentary about the sex trafficking of minors in the United States. It will be aired this summer on PBS stations. Contact for a Vimeo link to the film.

Zacarías M. de la Riva B.M. of Madrid, Spain, composed the soundtrack for Below Zero, which premiered on Netflix and stayed the first week at no. 1 in 44 countries. He also had a suite from that soundtrack premiere in the Festival Internacional de Música de Cine de Sevilla. 

Julián Graciano of Buenos Aires, Argentina, published through the prestigious publishing house Melos/Ricordi Americana the second volume of The Real Book of Tango, a collection of tango works from all periods and styles. It’s available in print and digital format on Amazon.


William McAuley/Bleu

William McAuley B.M., a.k.a. Bleu, of Sherman Oaks, CA, has a new album, SiX TAPE, available on streaming platforms. He's written for Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, and others, and had his music on TV shows The Good Place and Insecure.


Gardenia Benros B.M. of Clearwater, FL, launched a video for Valentine's Day, “Universal Love Story,” which was sung in six languages and includes a poem she wrote with the lines “Love has no color, no gender, religion, or age. Let love be your story page after page." 

Damon Hope B.M. of San Francisco, CA, has been busy performing, traveling, and recording with his band, the NomaD Band. Hope also owns NomaD Drum Studios, a drum rental and teaching studio.


Susan Cattaneo

Susan Cattaneo

Susan Cattaneo B.M. of Medford, MA, was an associate professor in the Songwriting Department for 20 years, and recently made the momentous but exciting decision to pursue music full-time. She is releasing a duo project called Honest Mechanik and will release an acoustic album, All Is Quiet, in January.


Lalo Crane B.M. of Valley Village, CA, and singer-songwriter Kyler England ’00 have been recording children’s music together as the multiple-award-winning duo Freckleland since 2014. Their newest duo album, Goodnight Tunes, is produced and cowritten with powerhouse songwriter and producer AG (Adrianne Gonzalez ’99).

Massimo Biolcati of New York, NY, released his successful album Incontre in 2019. He released his newest record, Momenta (Sounderscore Records), featuring three stellar groups of New York–based musicians, in July.


CJ Deangelus B.M. of Sacramento, CA, has been the visual and performing arts coordinator for the Sacramento City Unified School District since January 2020. As coordinator, he is responsible for all arts programs for the 44,000 students in the 13th-largest school district in California. 


Danny Gordon B.M. of Reseda, CA, played with Scott Weiland from 2001 to 2003. Since then he has continued to stay active, playing and touring locally and nationally. His current project, Aurora Sect, released a new single, "To Sea," and will be releasing three more songs over the following months. 



Joshua Taylor/JTronius

Joshua Taylor, a.k.a. JTronius, of Denison, TX, is signed to the legendary London label BBE Music. His group, Sons of the Sun, released its debut via vinyl and digital distribution. Numerous Berklee alumni were involved with the recording. 

Santi Greco

Santi Greco

Santi Greco of Madrid, Spain, released the album De Aquí de Allá, with violinist Marta Roca and bassist and composer Santi Greco, on streaming platforms. It combines jazz, world music, and Argentine folklore, and features guests Shayan Fathi (percussion), Pepe Rivero (piano), and Daniel Drexler and Susana Moncayo (vocals). 

John De Lucia B.M. of Brooklyn, NY, is releasing two new books this spring in his Bach Shapes series, which apply Bach's musical vocabulary to jazz for saxophone and all instruments. The books have been used by faculty at Berklee, New England Conservatory, and beyond. 

Vreny Van Elslande

Vreny Van Elslande

Vreny Van Elslande B.M. of Santa Clarita, CA, is a top guitar and music teacher in L.A. His clients include Nicolas Cage, Weezer, and Vanessa Williams. He recently published Guitar Essentials, which Carl Verheyen (Supertramp) calls "a much needed resource for guitarists at any skill level." 

Ricardo Pinheiro B.M. of Sintra, Portugal, released the albums Turn Out the Stars: The Music of Bill Evans and Dança do Pólen this year, and was the director of the Sintra Jazz Festival in September. Pinheiro also heads the master's program in performance at Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa.


Judah Kim

Judah Kim

Judah Kim B.M. of Philadelphia, PA, a vocalist, songwriter, and producer, released “Radiate,” a single that celebrates women, with a focus on content of character. Since Berklee, Kim has booked national and international tours, had FM radio play, and licensed songs to national and international television shows. 

Kate D. Schutt

Kate D. Schutt

Kate D. Schutt of New York, NY, is an award-winning songwriter, singer, and more. She has a TEDx talk, “A Grief Casserole: How to Help Your Friends and Family Through Loss,” and a book, The Ultimate Guide to Songwriting. Her new album, Bright Nowhere, came out in April.


Marcelo Mello Mendes of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where he has been playing and developing musical projects with local musicians.

Fernando Curiel B.M. of Madrid, Spain, recorded guitar for Sergio Vallín’s Microsinfonías, which features the Prague Symphony Orchestra, Carlos Santana, Alejandro Sanz, and Steve Vai, among others. Curiel also performed with, and produced music for, Velazquez Tech; performed at the Auditorio Nacional de Música; and did a residency with Sharon Corr.


Corey Schreppel B.M. of Saint Paul, MN, began working at the New York Times, which produces the leading podcast The Daily, as senior audio systems engineer. Before this, he worked at Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media as technical director, and mixed in-studio sessions and concerts.

Jamie Garamella of Bethel, CT, noticed that his guitar students wanted to be able to sing, so he started the Voice Studio at New York City Guitar School. The studio now has four more teachers and has made a successful transition to online learning. Garamella has written three books for group voice classes.


Hector Aponte of Los Angeles, CA, recorded bass on the acoustic version of “Used to Be,” by Steve Aoki, Kiiara, and Rob Thomas.

Maria Troendle of Überlingen, Germany, released her debut album, ARDEN (Neue Meister/Edel Records). All sounds are created with the harp and her voice. Genre-wise, it is somewhere between chamber pop, neoclassical music, and ambient soundscapes. She works with live sampling, looping and modular synths, and modified harp.


Angelo Caputo of Los Angeles, CA, joined Universal Music Group in 2019 to manage a new studio facility in Los Angeles. He was promoted this year to director of Capitol Studios, the recording studios located in the Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood, California.


Alexandria Tava of Weehawken, NJ, hosts a free two-hour Zoom event from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET to offer a safe space to discuss sound and the impact of sound besides music. It has a sound healing meditation, featured artists, and guest speakers.

Brant Buckley B.M. of Warrenville, IL, released a new blues-rock record, Times Strange, in May. It was inspired by a career-ending tennis injury. The main track is “Nerve Damage Blues.” He went to Chicago to learn blues and that's exactly what he got. He is also a tennis pro. 

Javier Rosario B.M. of Boston, MA, released his second album this year. His debut was Javier Rosario Trio, Vol: I: A Celebration of Life. He’s faculty at Community Music Center of Boston, Morse School, and Amigos School, and a clinician at the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 

Nicholas James Connell

Nicholas James Connell

Nicholas James Connell B.M. of Los Angeles, CA, cocreated TITANIQUE, a musical that turns one of the greatest love stories into a hysterical and joyful slay-fest. It was performed live at Les Poisson Rouge in New York City in May. Connell is also its music supervisor, arranger, and orchestrator.


Angel Velez B.M. of Los Angeles, CA, was one of the participating composers of the annual Los Angeles Film Conducting Intensive workshop, and participated in the first mixed ensemble scoring session in Los Angeles since almost a year prior. 


David Colicchio

David Colicchio

David B. Colicchio B.M. of Pound Ridge, NY, recently wrote, produced, performed, and animated "ABC Song" for the Blue's Clues YouTube channel, which went viral on Twitter and TikTok. Colicchio has written, produced, and performed music for the channel in addition to editing videos, performing voice-over, and animating characters. 

Jake Cassman B.M. of Los Angeles, CA, released his new EP, It's Only Temporary (Drunken Logic), which was recorded mostly remotely and explores new electronic and pop influences. He also performs with the Second City and is in the community music master's program at the University of Southern California.

Raphael Pannier

Raphael Pannier

Raphael Pannier B.M. of Paris, France, had his first album, of which he is the lead, Faune, listed among the best debuts in the 2020 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. The album was also among Slate’s Best Jazz Albums of 2020, and received many other glowing reviews.


Zane Kuchera M.M. of Waltham, MA, released a new album in June, Involved 2020, featuring 20 original instrumental pop and jazz songs. Something odd happened in the wake of the 2020 pandemic: he got involved with artists living around the world and wrote more collaborative music than ever before.

Arielle Vakni

Arielle Vakni

Arielle Vakni B.M. of Denver, CO, has a band, ANIMA!, composed of Berklee alumni, that has been steadily growing online with millions of streams since its conception. It played the main stage of Lightning in a Bottle 2018 and has been working on its next release through quarantine. 


Hong Shen M.M. of Hong Kong, China, released his first album, Sole Divinity, on all streaming platforms.


David Murillo B.M. scored the Netflix film Dad Wanted, the Sony Pictures and MACRO film Blast Beat, the film When in Venice, and seasons one and two of the Netflix TV show Who Killed Sara?, which has become the platform's most-watched foreign-language original series.

Elena Goddard B.M. of Telkwa, Canada, released the single "Build a Ship," which reached no.13 on Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC), Canada’s main radio station.

Jordan Felisbret B.M. of Portsmouth, VA, is in the Netflix docuseries Voices of Fire, and performed with the group of the same name at the 22nd Annual Super Bowl Celebration on BET. He also released his debut single, "So Glad," and will release an EP later this year.


Dominic Delore

Dominic Delore

Dominic Delore B.M. of Agawam, MA, released his second album, Beating Hearts and Shooting Stars, a collection of cinematic ambient pieces. Since leaving Berklee, he has worked at iZotope. Over the last year, he helped the company develop and build out Social Care, a new branch of customer care.

Andrew Choe B.M. of Atlanta, GA, recreated the Firebird musical score as part of Abilities Dance Boston's Firebird ballet, which premiered in May.

John Varkados

John Varkados

John Varkados B.M. of Decatur, GA, served as first assistant director and post-production supervisor for the film The Drone That Saved Christmas, a sequel to a Christmas movie already on Netflix. The film will be released this December. 


Sebastian Selame B.M. of Miami Beach, FL, helped build the recording studio he works in, and started assisting Latin Grammy winners such as Bacilos and Alvaro Alencar. Selame is now an engineer and he’s had the pleasure to engineer for various artists in the Latin and pop music industries.

Kyle Ward

Kyle Ward

Kyle Ward B.M. of Rumson, NJ, won Best Score from a Home Grown Feature Film Thriller at the 19th Annual Garden State Film Festival for the song "Barbara's Theme,” one of four originals he composed for the movie Rushed. Ward will also write music for the next project by the filmmaker who made Rushed


Avery Gerhardt B.M. of Cambridge, MA, presented her original solo work, "Massa," at the Kraków Dance Festival in Poland. Performed by India Hobbs, another Boston Conservatory alumna, the work went up at the Nowa Huta Cultural Center and was chosen to be in the festival’s final performance.

Alex Yewon

Alex Yewon

Alex Yewon B.M. of Los Angeles, CA, orchestrated music for the award-winning virtual reality game Rhythm of the Universe: Ionia, and released her first single album as a singer-songwriter under her stage name, Nowey. She now works for composer Jeff Russo and teaches guitar at Allegra Music Academy.

Fryderyk Hoang Dong of Warsaw, Poland, recorded his debut album, which features many friends he met at Berklee. It was recorded during the pandemic and faced many obstacles due to the circumstances. 

Jillian Foley

Jillian Foley

Jillian Foley B.M. of Flushing, NY, released her debut EP, soul + sorrow, last December in collaboration with Patrick Rimterakul B.M. ’20. 

Safiya Leslie B.M. of Staten Island, NY, created a successful subscription box startup that brings a travel and live-musician experience to subscribers as a fun way to give back to her peers by creating income that’s not $0.006 per play from streaming online. 


John Abbott

John Abbott

Micah Macari

Micah Macari

John Abbott B.M. of Hopewell, NJ, released his first single, a homage to Antonio Carlos Jobim, "Strollin' Through Hopewell (Passeando por Hopewell)," on streaming platforms. 

Micah Macari B.M. of Cumberland, RI, can confidently say he’s ready to begin his professional career in music now that he has been educated by Berklee. 

Solomon Alber

Solomon Alber

Solomon Alber B.M. of Pleasanton, CA, contributed to the recording and production of the music for a collaborative EP with the musician Zero and is releasing a song. This fall, Alber will be pursuing a master's degree in music at Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Oveante Magsby B.M., of Memphis, TN, played piano on a new jazz ballad, "Strange Fruit, Revisited," released in October and sung by Broadway star Tonya Pinkins. The goal of the project is to raise money and awareness for the George Floyd Memorial Foundation.

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