Alum Notes

L.A. Newsbriefs

Very best wishes to one and all for the happy and successful year 2000. As we begin this new year, it is worth taking a moment to recap several alumni events in the last quarter of 1999.

In October, an event on how to build your own website was held at the Electronic Café in Santa Monica. There were two speakers, Chris Palmer, an expert in RealAudio and MP3, and Steve Shmerler '77 <>, a web designer who has done design work for many of the major studios in L.A. They laid out the actual construction of a web page in a very logical fashion, and Steve also prepared a summary of the evening's information, located on his own website <> for the audience and others to visit later. In November, Berklee cosponsored an all-day expo event entitled Indie Nation, produced by L.A. Women in Music. Featured during this event was a Berklee-produced panel discussion entitled Making Major Music with Minor Money. The panelists were songwriter Reed Vertelney '80; producer Peter Bunetta; Nancy Matter, head of mastering at Disney Records; and producer/engineer Joe Chiccarelli. While suggesting a variety of ways independent artists can save money during the recording process, they stressed the concept that the focus should always be on making the best music, and not on the latest recording technology.

In December, the annual holiday social was once again held at Rive Gauche Café in Sherman Oaks. Having an atmosphere that reminds many of winters "back East," it was a wonderful setting for this event and, as usual, the mood was festive and the attendance was excellent.

The alumni brunch, scheduled in conjunction with the NAMM Show, was held in early February. This year Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to renowned songwriter Tom Snow '69 and prominent film scorer Richard Gibbs '77. Having written such memorable tunes as "Don't Know Much" (Linda Ronstadt/Aaron Neville), "Let's Hear It for the Boy" (Deniece Williams), "After All" (Cher and Peter Cetera), and "He's So Shy" (Pointer Sisters), Snow's career places him in the upper echelons among songwriters. His music has been featured in movies such as Steel Magnolias, Chances Are, A Goofy Movie, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Footloose. Artists who have recorded his tunes include Diana Ross, Michael Bolton, Bette Midler, Gladys Knight, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Selena, and Kenny Loggins.

After graduating from Berklee, Richard Gibbs played keyboards with both Chaka Khan's band and Oingo Boingo. In the early 1980s, he began a film scoring career that has led to him composing scores for such movies as Dr. Dolittle (starring Eddie Murphy), Natural Born Killers (Woody Harrelson), Fatal Instinct (Armand Assante), Amos and Andrew (Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Cage) and Dirty Work (Norm MacDonald, Chevy Chase). He also served as musical director for the Tracey Ullman Show and recently performed with the band Korn at the Apollo Theater in New York, an event for which he also served as musical director.

In addition to the two alumni awards, the third Golden Clef Award was presented at the alumni brunch. This award, presented to a prominent figure in the music product industry in recognition of outstanding support for music education, went to Michael Kovins, President of Korg USA.

As for other alumni in the news, composer Roger Bellon '75 co-composed, arranged, and produced the recent CD titled Highlander–A Celtic Opera. Drummer/percussionist Steve Pemberton '79 was featured in concert with the Peter Nero Trio at Carnegie Hall in New York at an event that also featured Robert Merrill, Margaret Whiting, and Peter Yarrow.

In the world of film and TV music, Kevin Kliesch '92 served as an orchestrator, copyist, and conductor for the hit movie Pokemon and scored the upcoming feature Two Coyotes. He also played keyboards at the Apollo Theater with the band Korn. Curt Sobel '78 served as supervising music editor for The Insider (starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe), temp music editor for End of Days (Arnold Schwarzenegger), scored A Cool Dry Place (Vince Vaughn) and Kings, a Showtime film by Robert Zemekis that aired in February. Michael Levine '76 served as composer, arranger, and orchestrator for the Oliver Stone movie Any Given Sunday (Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, James Woods), a film that also featured scoring work by Bill Brown '91 and Camara Kambon '93.

That's it for now. Stay in touch.

Peter Gordon '78
Berklee Center in Los Angeles