Berklee's Helping Hands
New Songwriting Competition Launched
Berklee has launched the new songwriting contest “Songs for Social Change,” which is open to all Berklee students regardless of major. The project was made possible by a generous donation by Rhonda and John Luongo, parents of current Berklee student Kelsey Luongo ’11.
Rhonda is enthusiastic about the effort. “We believe music has the capacity to influence behavior, to bring people together, and to change our society,” she says. “Songs like ‘Give Peace a Chance’ galvanized people to speak out against, and ultimately stop, the Vietnam War. ‘We Shall Overcome’ and ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ helped people gain the courage to band together to fight injustice and give birth to the civil-rights movement.”
The Songs for Social Change Songwriting Contest encourages Berklee’s talented students to write about their issues of concern and provides a forum for positive ideas for change. “To launch this project, we’re providing funds to establish an endowed fund that will enable the competition to continue annually in perpetuity,” Rhonda says. “It’s important for songwriters to learn to write from different perspectives and to try to deal with large social issues as well as personal experiences,” Songwriting Department Chair Jack Perricone says. “This contest, which attracted 125 entries, offers our songwriters such an opportunity.”
The competition will award a first prize of $1,000, plus $1,000 for recording expenses. The second prize is $500, and the third is $300. Based on the response from the Berklee student body, the initiative has drawn strong interest. Donations to the fund can be sent to Marjorie O’Malley at 1140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02215, or made online at www.berklee.edu/giving/specialāgifts.html.
This past September, student parents John and Dorothy McDonald hosted a reception at their beautiful home in Alamo, CA. For the Bay Area parents of Berklee students who attended, it was an opportunity to meet one another and hear the members of the Berklee Latin Jazz All-Stars, who were on their way to play at the Monterey Jazz Festival. The group’s performance at the McDonald home impressed the attendees. The McDonalds offered their home that evening in support of Giant Steps, Berklee’s first capital campaign.
“Berklee, a flagship institution for music education and excellence, believes that music matters,” Dorothy McDonald says. “We hope our gift can help sustain that message and provide scholarship opportunities for exceptional students.” Berklee is deeply grateful to the McDonalds for their support.
Two New Initiatives
Berklee students draw on loans, grants, and family savings to attend the college. Sadly, some have to leave before they complete their studies given a lack of financial resources. Despite the expansion of the college’s scholarship fund this year and next, more private philanthropic support is clearly needed. Members of the Berklee community have stepped up to enlarge the resources available to our students. The Association of Faculty & Staff of African Descent (AFSAD) has established an endowed scholarship fund to provide additional support to currently enrolled Berklee students who work to benefit communities of African descent on and off campus. All students are eligible to receive a scholarship through the fund.
AFSAD received two leadership gifts to launch the effort. Berklee College of Music Trustee Ronald Crutcher, an accomplished cellist and the president of Wheaton College, built momentum with a gift, and Berklee Professor of Ensemble Walter Beasley, a highly regarded saxophonist, also contributed generously to the fund. “I was a child who dreamed big on the East Side of El Centro, California,” Beasley says in explaining his motivation. “Had it not been for the sacrifices of an extraordinary family and community, I would never have achieved what I have as a performer and educator. I’m part of a family who believes that each generation is charged with making tomorrow better by providing opportunities today.”
Another effort launched by Berklee faculty and friends is the establishment of the Walter W. Harp Liberal Arts Music and Society Award. It was conceived as a tribute to Walter Harp, a beloved faculty member of the Liberal Arts Department who passed away in 2005. The Walter W. Harp award honors the memory of this remarkable teacher who spent 29 years inspiring his students to wonder and question, seek connections between music and other disciplines, engage in social issues, combat injustice and complacency, and face the world with passion and compassion. When fully endowed, the fund will provide scholarships to graduating students who demonstrate outstanding achievement in areas relating to music and society.
Gifts to the fund can be made online at www.berklee.edu/giving or sent to Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement Debbie Bieri at Berklee College of Music, 1140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02215.