President Erica Muhl Delivers Keynote Address at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi

Berklee community members participated in both the three-day summit and an event at the Berklee Abu Dhabi Center.

December 5, 2022

Berklee President Erica Muhl delivered an address as a keynote speaker at the 2022 Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, a three-day gathering of world leaders, creative thinkers, artists, and CEOs from a wide swath of industries and global communities that influence culture and the arts. Hosted by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, the fifth-annual summit, which took place at Manarat Al Saadiyat October 23–25, combined discussion-based activities with performances and participatory workshops centered around the theme "A Living Culture."

President Muhl addressed participants on the third day of the program, which focused on the arts and culture through the lens of diversity, and empowering communities by engendering a more inclusive society that reflects and amplifies the strength of different cultural perspectives.

“Imagine what the world could be, what we could accomplish, if the creativity at the center of each and every one of us was nurtured from a very early age, carefully developed and allowed to grow, and then harnessed in a collective mission toward societal transformation,” shared President Muhl in her address, Educating Change Makers Through Arts and Culture. “[Berklee’s] vision is to create an interconnected network of campuses, centers, and partnerships that foster and inspire new artistic expressions…. We also seek to learn from our partner communities, and to distinguish these programs and offerings in ways that are enhanced by the work of local artists and arts organizations, local industries, and most importantly, by local traditions and practices.”

Mayssa Karaa

Mayssa Karaa, artistic director of Berklee Abu Dhabi Center, performs with Danilo Perez’s Global Jazz Project at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi.

Image courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism

In addition to President Muhl, several additional members of the Berklee community contributed to the summit. Mayssa Karaa, artistic director of Berklee Abu Dhabi, moderated the panel discussion Integrating Cultural Diversity Through Music. Among the panelists joining Karaa were Danilo Pérez, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI); BGJI alumnus George Lernis; Berklee faculty member Patricia Zárate Pérez; and Manuel Abud, CEO of the Latin Recording Academy, who shared their respective personal experiences and insights on building a borderless global community through music and the arts.

The BGJI offered audiences a taste of their eclectic sound with a closing performance that featured Pérez, Lernis, Zárate Pérez, vocalist and Berklee instructor Nadia Washington, bassist Ciara Moser, and violinist Ángela Varo, with special guest Charbel Rouhana, an acclaimed oud performer and composer. In a separate performance, Berklee Abu Dhabi instructors Yarub Smarait (violin) and Samvel Gasparyan (piano) treated attendees to a harmonious blend of Arabic-influenced world music.

Immediately following the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, the Berklee Abu Dhabi Center hosted the Berklee Abu Dhabi Music Summit October 26–27, which focused on the theme of "Emerging Technologies in the Music Industry." The two-day event convened industry professionals and artists to learn, network, and reimagine the world of creative arts in the Middle East through immersive discussion panels, interactive workshops, and high-energy performances.

Danilo Pérez

Danilo Perez, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, participates in a panel discussion at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi.

Image courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism

“We are extremely honored to be able to have President Muhl, Danilo Pérez, the Global Jazz Institute, and so many other members of Berklee Abu Dhabi be a part of this critical cultural event,” said Gael Hedding, director of Berklee Abu Dhabi and a speaker in the summit’s Mentoring for Impact panel, which discussed the impact mentoring in the arts can have on younger generations. “One of the many strengths of Berklee is our ability to connect across cultures and create safe spaces for creative minds to share ideas. Culture Summit Abu Dhabi and the Berklee Abu Dhabi Music Summit harness that connective energy, and we are proud that Berklee has played such an important role in pushing toward those ideals.”

During her visit, President Muhl joined the Berklee Abu Dhabi leadership team for a tour of the state-of-the-art center, where she was able to connect and engage with the program's talented students and faculty. The Berklee Abu Dhabi Center represents a significant commitment by Berklee to the advancement of arts education experiences and public performances, not only in Abu Dhabi but across regions in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Programs offered at the center serve local and regional students of all ages with instruction in voice, piano, DJing and turntablism, production, songwriting, film scoring, music business, dance, and more.

About Berklee Abu Dhabi 

The Berklee Abu Dhabi Center is a hub that ignites and inspires creative industry professionals poised to impact the growing and thriving cultural, educational, and performing arts industries in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. Through sustainable and innovative educational experiences, the center builds bridges between the Middle East and Berklee's global ecosystem.

In addition to hosting major performances each year, the center offers the PEARL (Performance Artistry and Leadership) certificate program, a competitive, project-based, experiential artist accelerator that equips selected participants with powerful tools and strategies in songwriting, production, marketing and entrepreneurship. It also presents the annual Berklee Abu Dhabi Music Summit, which brings together global music professionals, artists, and enthusiasts to learn from each other and reimagine the world of creative arts in the Middle East. 

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