On February 21, Voice Department Professor Mili Bermejo ’84 passed away after a long battle with cancer. She was 65. Bermejo was born in Argentina but spent most of her youth in Mexico City. She moved to Boston in 1979 and attended Berklee. After graduating in 1984, she immediately became a full-time Berklee faculty member. During her 32 years at the college, she taught a variety of voice and jazz courses.
She married bassist Dan Greenspan in 1989, and they maintained an active performance schedule. They recorded albums as a duo and in quartet and sextet settings that showcased Bermejo’s pan-American style of jazz. Before her passing, Bermejo completed the book Jazz Vocal Improvisation, which Berklee Press published.
Kim Plainfield, a professor in the Percussion Department, passed away unexpectedly on April 9 after returning from a clinic tour in China. He was 63. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and based in New York, Plainfield enjoyed a successful career as a performer, author, and educator. Starting at the age of 19, he worked with Mingo Lewis, the Pointer Sisters, John Patitucci, Kenny Rankin, and Tania Maria among others. His style of fusion drumming that blended Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian, and other influences, was heard on various albums.
Plainfield joined the Berklee faculty in 2002 and taught drum repertoire courses, studio instruction, and ensembles. Additionally, he taught at the Drummers Collective in New York City and authored two critically hailed books on drumming.
Vuk Kulenovic, a professor in the Composition Department, passed away on April 10. He was 70. Born in Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia, he studied piano and composition at Ljubljana Music Academy in Slovenia and later at Belgrade Music Academy. Kulenovic’s musical influences went beyond contemporary classical styles to include jazz, Indian ragas, Balkan folk music, rock, and more.
Kulenovic, his wife, and two sons left their homeland in 1993 for America during the Bosnian War with the help of a Fulbright grant. He began teaching at Berklee in the fall of 1996. Kulenovic composed more than 100 works for orchestra, solo instruments, chamber groups, chorus, and music for film. Top orchestras in America, Europe, Asia, and Australia have performed his music.
On May 3, retired professor Barrie Nettles passed away after suffering a massive stroke. He was 74.
Nettles graduated from Berklee in 1969 and began teaching at the college in 1972, and retired in 2006. During his 34-year tenure, he was a foundational member of the Harmony Department, and served as the chair from 1984–1993. And until he retired, he served as a professor. Nettles taught most of the harmony and arranging courses and authored many of the core harmony texts and workbooks. He also created the “Scoring for Woodwinds” course.
Prior to attending Berklee, Nettles attended the Naval School of Music. He also served as a staff arranger for the U.S. Army Band of the Pacific in Hawaii and worked as a music therapist at Pennsylvania State School and Hospital. He was known as a superb writer and arranger and an excellent woodwind player—especially on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet. He was also a master carpenter who created fine furniture.