Berklee Today

Lead Sheet:
Alpert and Benson Gifts Will Bring Industry Bright Lights to Berklee

Herb Alpert
Photo by Gerry Welsh
Scott Benson
Photo by Bob Kramer

To study with a performing musician is the cornerstone of a Berklee education. To work and play alongside successful music industry professionals is what we believe makes a real difference. Two gentlemen understand our commitment to providing this kind of education. Herb Alpert and Scott Benson have each made breathtaking gifts to Berklee totaling $1.5 million. Through their gifts, Alpert and Benson have provided us with a new tool to reach out and bring star talent to Berklee. These generous contributions signify an important growth in the academic community at Berklee.

Scott Benson wanted to honor a friend and achieve the goal of establishing the first endowed chair at Berklee. His foresight and generosity led him to create the Gary Burton Endowed Chair in Jazz Performance. The income from the endowment will broaden our illustrious faculty with the addition of a high-level jazz performer. The recipient of this honor will be an outstanding and well-recognized jazz artist. This new professor will work with students during the fall and spring semesters.

Herb Alpert's gift also directly enriches the curriculum and, in many respects, mirrors his arching talents. The Herb Alpert Visiting Professorship will provide intense short periods of instruction from a leading performer, composer, or music industry leader. Berklee will be able to bring up to three visiting professors each year for two weeks. This gift is a reflection of Alpert's dedication to music education, and in particular, the kind of experience the young musicians of today going into popular music and jazz will need to succeed.

Scott Benson is a champion of the Berklee experience. He is a guitarist and songwriter and heads his own record company. Benson has been a trustee of Berklee since June of 1999 and takes very seriously his role of enriching the educational experience. Not only has he created this endowed chair, he has made it possible for students to attend Berklee by providing scholarships and sponsoring events that aid urban teens and music students with disabilities.

He is also the reason Berklee is now offering lifetime e-mail addresses to alumni. Through his connections with, Benson was able to secure $500,000 worth of software in order to make the offer to alumni. (For more information, see Berklee Offers All Alumni Free E-mail for Life and Class Connections in this issue of Berklee Today.)

For over 20 years, Benson has created and led software companies. Some of the companies he has been working with in the software world include Valent Software,, Microsystems Software, Newsphere, and Accordance Corporation, which merged with in 1997. These days, Benson's primary focus is XOFF Records, bringing him fully into the music community.

Musician, abstract painter, sculptor, and entrepreneur are titles that describe Herb Alpert, a multifaceted leader in the music and the art world. His musical accomplishments and have netted him seven Grammy Awards,15 gold and 14 platinum records. Seventy-two million Alpert discs have flown out of the record store bins.

As cofounder of the legendary A&M Records label, he nurtured the careers of such artists as Sting, the Carpenters, Carole King, Janet Jackson, Joe Cocker, Quincy Jones, Jeffrey Osborne, and Amy Grant, to name a few. The Herb Alpert Visiting Professorship will be a permanent reminder of his significant contributions to the development of American music and to the importance he places on supporting young musicians.

Berklee is grateful to these men for their generosity and inspiration. At the time of this writing, the honorees of these two contributions have yet to be named. Keep your eye on our website <> or the next issue of Berklee Today.

—David McKay, vice president for institutional advancement