Comings and Goings


Bonnie HayesBefore the fall semester began, the college hired 26 new faculty members, including two new department chairs and two assistant chairs. These new teachers will bring their expertise to students in film scoring, liberal arts, songwriting, music business, harmony, MP&E, ear training, music business, and performance. The additions bring the number of Berklee faculty members to 604.

Bonnie Hayes has been named the chair of the college’s Songwriting Department. A veteran songwriter, Hayes has created songs for Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, and Bette Midler and produced more than 40 records. She succeeds Jack Perricone, who chaired the Songwriting Department for 26 years.

Hayes brings to Berklee more than 35 years of experience as an educator, songwriter, producer, performer, and recording artist. During her career, she has been signed to five record deals and five writing deals. She toured as a side musician with Billy Idol and Cris Williamson. She designed and implemented the youth program for the Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco and has taught piano, guitar, music theory, songwriting, and composition to thousands of students at institutions throughout the United  States. Hayes is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and has also spent time living in Los Angeles and New York.

Hayes says that she hopes to streamline, modernize, and energize the curriculum with the goal of giving students the tools and support for viable careers in the current and future music industry, as well as activating the great teachers at Berklee by helping them create engaging and innovative programs.

“I am very pleased to welcome Bonnie Hayes as the new chair of the Songwriting Department,” Perricone says. “Before meeting her, I had admired her work as a songwriter—especially her songs ‘Love Letter’ and ‘Have a Heart’ from Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time album. Bonnie [Hayes] brings a lifetime of experience as a songwriter, performer, and teacher.”

Simone PilonSimone Pilon has been named the new chair of the Liberal Arts Department.

She holds a Ph.D. in Quebecois literature from Université Laval, a master’s degree in French literature from McGill University, and earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in French Literature (and a sociology minor) at the University of British Columbia. 

Before coming to Berklee, Pilon served as the director of international studies and chaired the department of modern languages at Franklin College in Indiana. While at Franklin, Pilon also served as a faculty member and assistant group leader at Alderson-Broaddus College in Salzburg, Austria.  She has led study-abroad programs to Africa, Asia, Canada, and Europe. Additionally, she participated in the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad programs in Morocco and Tunisia. She received a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to develop the intercultural honors experience at Franklin College. Pilon is also a singer and has studied piano and violin. 

“We welcome Dr. Simone Pilon as the new chair of the Liberal Arts Department,” says Darla Hanley, the dean of the Professional Education Division. She is an accomplished administrator, teacher, and scholar. She is an effective leader who has already distinguished herself as a visionary on campus.”

The two new assistant chairs are Sandro Scoccia ’94 and Kimberly Perlak. Scoccia has taken the reins from John Repucci in the Bass Department. Scoccia, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, formerly served as Berklee’s senior director of performance support. An active professional bassist, Scoccia has extensive experience playing music in the jazz, Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, funk, West African, and Brazilian styles. He has also appeared on recordings by Stone Boy, Teresa Ines, Marimbira, Brazilian Jungle Band, and others.

Kimberly Perlak is the new assistant chair of the Guitar Department. She replaces Rick Peckham, who has now joined the faculty as a professor in the Guitar Department. A classical guitarist, Perlak earned her doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Texas,Austin; a master’s degree from Yale University; and her bachelor’s degree from Stetson University in Florida. In 2012, she released the CD Common Ground: New American Music, featuring 15 titles from contemporary American composers. Perlak has performed at various concert halls and for broadcasts on National Public Radio and CBS Sunday Morning. She also serves as the editor in chief of Soundboard, the journal of the Guitar Foundation of America.


Into Retirement

Phil WilsonAfter decades of teaching at Berklee, Jack Perricone and Phil Wilson are entering retirement. But both will maintain light teaching schedules.

After serving at the post for 26 years, Jack Perricone retired as the chair of Berklee’s Songwriting Department. “I consider myself very fortunate to have headed the first college songwriting department to offer a bachelor of music degree in songwriting,” Perricone says. “My challenge—when I was given this honor—was to make what seemed like an academically light-weight subject into something that would be respected within academia.” He succeeded.  Today Berklee has 250 songwriting majors and 13 faculty members.

Perricone authored the book Melody in Songwriting and is completing another title for Oxford University Press. He earned his bachelor of music degree from the Hartt School and his master’s from Indiana University.

Perricone’s songwriting and producing credits include work for Lou Rawls, Michael Jackson, Angela Bofill, Jerry Butler, and more. He also penned the 1975 hit “Run, Joey, Run.” In 2010, it was featured in the TV show Glee. His future plans include writing new songs and studying the masterworks of Bartok, Stravinsky, and Copland.

In 1965, after nearly 10 years on the road with the Dorsey, Woody Herman, and other big bands, Professor Phil Wilson joined the faculty at Berklee. Under his direction, the Dues Band (later dubbed the Rainbow Band) served as a training ground for many greats, including Alan Broadbent ’69, both Abraham Laboriel Sr. ’72 and Abe Jr. ’93, John Scofield ’73, Makoto Ozone ’83, Antonio Hart ’91, Anat Cohen ’98, and more. In 1967, Wilson’s arrangement of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” was recorded by the Buddy Rich Big Band and became the last big-band instrumental to earn a slot on top-40 radio. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award. As for his to-do list during retirement, Wilson has begun organizing all of the music he’s written. “It’s an amazing amount of music, I wasn’t prepared for that,” he says with a laugh. Looking back over his long and distinguished career Wilson states, “I just feel really blessed that my job has been to do what I really love.”