Barr Foundation Partners with Berklee


Berklee is pleased to announce that the Barr Foundation has selected the college as a partner to explore innovations and new research possibilities at the intersection of music, medicine, and health. The foundation’s $300,000 planning grant will establish a new institute at Berklee to collaborate with Boston’s foremost medical, educational, and technology institutions. The effort will develop cross-disciplinary networks among health and medical research institutions, technology companies, academia, and music industry leaders. 

“Berklee College of Music has expertise in music and health, entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to craft cross-sectoral partnerships,” says E. San San Wong, the director of arts and creativity for the Barr Foundation. “Berklee is well positioned to be a leader advancing practice and research in music and health. Their team members are passionate champions for the power of music to positively impact physical, emotional, and social well-being.”

This groundbreaking institute will build on exciting work already underway at Berklee, including a joint course offered with MIT for developing technologies linking music and health. In addition, it will leverage existing healthcare and community connections from more than two decades of leadership in the music therapy field. 

Programs planned for the pilot phase include a hackathon to develop a software solution to a music and health-related challenge, a video series of conversations with high-profile individuals, three academic convenings, and a large-scale international conference. 

An active advisory board will support fundraising, idea generation, and community connections to help guide the development and sustainability of the Institute. 

“In year one, we will begin building resources and identifying key partners and topics that will shape future community programs, events and other offerings,” says Darla Hanley, the dean of Berklee’s Professional Education Division. “With these foundational steps, we will dream our best dream to further establish our work as thought leaders in the performing arts.”

“The Boston-Cambridge area is uniquely endowed, says Steve Holtzman, a member of Berklee’s Board of Trustees, “with the interdisciplinary resources necessary for the study of biology, human development, and cognition as [they] relate to music; the practical application of music to affect health and wellness outcomes; and the use of music to enable enhanced learning in the young and the maintenance of cognition in the elderly, among other things. These resources are spread across multiple institutions. I have little doubt that with the right vision we can establish in this area the world’s leading Institute for the integrated study and practical application of music, the mind, the brain and health and wellness.”

With assets of $1.7 billion, the Barr Foundation is among the largest private foundations in New England. Its mission is to nurture and enhance vital community assets, and cultivate breakthrough ideas that will shape the future. Barr selectively and thoughtfully engages with leading nonprofit organizations to elevate the arts and creative expression, advance solutions for climate change, and connect students to success in high school and beyond.