Berklee Today

Berklee Beat: Berklee's Helping Hands

Johnson Foundation invests in BCM

Photo by Justin Allardyce Knight

Through a generous gift, the Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Scholarship Foundation is making it possible for the Berklee City Music program (BCM) to expand its reach to additional low-income teens in the Greater Boston area. This group is already providing funding for eight young people graduating from the BCM program to attend Berklee as full-time students on full-tuition scholarships.

The gift of $124,500 will allow 25 underprivileged youth to attend the City Music Saturday and the after school programs that operate throughout the school year. It will also provide funding for 20 students to attend Berklee's renowned Five-Week Summer Performance Program. The Johnson Foundation is also investing in the mentoring program, often the first point of entry to Berklee for urban youth. The gift will enhance the training, support, and supervision that mentors receive, provide support for instructors who teach music theory, and add a visiting artist component to the program.

"Berklee is incredibly grateful to the people within the Johnson Foundation who have a vision about what young urban youth need to succeed," said Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marjorie O'Malley. "At the Johnson Foundation, they understand that young people need encouragement, guidance, and access to resources to gain the skills necessary to become productive members of society. They know that music is a way to reach these youngsters and teach them that through hard work, creati-vity, and dedication, they can shine as people and as musicians. These students have great potential. The Johnson Foundation is tapping into that energy and talent. We are very thankful for their leadership."


Sapers Invests in Brass

Berklee Trustee Rhoda Sapers has a personal connection with Berklee's Brass Department. Her father Fred Berman was the first chair of the department and helped build it to become one of the finest at Berklee. In 1997, Rhoda and her husband Bill made their first gift to establish the endowed fund in her father's memory. They wanted it to provide much-needed scholarship support for entering students who play any brass instrument and demonstrate financial need. To ensure that the fund is making a significant impact, the Sapers have made subsequent donations. As a result, the size of the scholarship awards has increased significantly since the fund's establishment.

"It is an absolute pleasure to see Rhoda Sapers in action," noted O'Malley. "Her long-standing connection with Berklee has allowed her to embrace the changes that have taken place to enhance the education that our students receive. Above all else, her commitment is to our students and to the music that they create and perform. She has a huge heart and thrives on providing opportunities for young people. We are proud to have her as a member of the Berklee family."


Shure Mics for the Voice Department

Shure Incorporated donated microphones to Berklee's Voice Department this fall for use in teaching and performance studies. The addition of Shure SM58 and Beta 87C microphones and a wireless system augmented the department's supply of quality equipment for the students to learn on.

"Shure microphones have been a tradition at Berklee for a long time," said O'Malley. "It is great that our Voice Department now has access to microphones that are an industry standard. We are thrilled to have this support from Shure."


Family Affair

Alan and Isabel Pisano and family are people of action who take their music seriously. Witnessing firsthand how Berklee brings music writing and performing together with the technical aspects of producing a show, the Pisanos wanted to demonstrate their support for the college. In acknowledgement of the positive and growing influence that female performers have had at the college, the Pisano's chose to make a generous donation to provide scholarship support for female vocalists at Berklee.

The Pisano's children, Pauline and Alan, Jr., have each attended Berklee. Pauline enrolled in several of the Berklee special summer programs during her high school years. Alan, Jr., an accomplished guitar player, had graduated from Boston College and landed a job with an accounting firm in Boston before deciding to change directions and become a full-time Berklee student this semester. The two recently collaborated on a CD of original songs that has just been released.

The Pisano family members, well known and highly regarded within the Berklee community, have attended many Berklee events and are longtime supporters of Berklee's annual Encore Gala. Isabel recently said, "I wanted to show my support for Berklee's mission in some meaningful way. Making a gift that will provide scholarships is my way of saying thank you to Berklee."

Photo caption: (From the left) Malcolm Macleod of the Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Scholarship Foundation, Karlos Colon, Lee Eliot Berk, and Curtis Warner after the System Five Blow Out Concerts. Colon was awarded a four-year, full-tuition scholarship after completing the Berklee City Music program.

—Marjorie O'Malley

Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement