Berklee Today

Helping Hands
Michel Camilo Scholarship Established

Latin-jazz star Michel Camilo sits in at Berklee's Encore Gala in October. Photo by Justin Knight

Providing the means for others to reach their musical dreams adds an important dimension to the significant accomplishments of pianist and composer Michel Camilo. Born in 1954 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Camilo, has been fascinated with music since childhood. He composed his first song at the age of five and at 16 became a member of his country's National Symphony Orchestra.

Camilo made his Carnegie Hall debut with his trio in 1985 and, since then, has become a prominent Latin-jazz artist with a vast catalog of recordings and compositions. He performs regularly in the United States, the Caribbean, Japan, and Europe.

Despite his active professional schedule, Camilo has found the time to establish a scholarship at Berklee College of Music that will provide financial support for an instrumentalist of Dominican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Latin-American heritage who demonstrates outstanding talent and financial need. Berklee has long attracted students from Latin- American and Caribbean countries. Many others have expressed a strong interest in Berklee but have been unable to attend because of financial constraints.

"We are absolutely thrilled that a musician of Michel's caliber has taken this opportunity to invest in aspiring young musicians who are seeking to find their musical voice at Berklee," said Marjorie O'Malley, assistant vice president at Berklee. "Michel's work as a performer, composer, and conductor is recognized throughout the world. We are so pleased that Michel has taken this step to ensure that the ever-increasing influence of Latin music will continue to be felt at Berklee. We thank him for his support."

The Richard Soref Excellence in Teaching Award Established

Berklee is deeply grateful for the generous commitment by Richard Soref to establish a fund in his name that will honor a female faculty member at the college who has demonstrated outstanding skill in helping Berklee students to improve their performance abilities. The Richard Soref award will be given annually for the next four years. Soref attended Berklee's October 2002 Encore Gala and was impressed by the talent of female performers he heard. In particular, he was intrigued by the ways in which female faculty members performing with their students inspired them to give their best onstage. He wanted to reward women professors who, in the course of their work at Berklee, are exceeding expectations and creating a dynamic learning environment for Berklee students.

All female professors at Berklee who teach performance classes and have substantially inspired their students to strengthen their performance abilities are eligible for nomination. Award recipients will have illustrated their commitment to innovative teaching methods, shown how they met the unique needs of their students, or demonstrated excellence in teaching performance skills. Written nominations are accepted from students, faculty, and staff.

"Richard Soref is one of those rare individuals," noted O'Malley, "who wanted to make a gift of strategic importance to the college. He is keenly aware of the tremendously positive influence of women musicians at Berklee. He knows of the many female professors quietly making important strides at the college and enriching the creative environment along the way. Creating this award is a way to recognize them for their excellence. We are deeply grateful to Richard for his support."

Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Foundation Invest in Berklee City Music

Berklee is pleased to announce the receipt of $233,000 from the Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Scholarship Foundation. This gift will provide opportunities for disadvantaged urban youth to participate in the Berklee City Music Program and attend the Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program and the City Music Saturday and City Music Mentoring programs. In addition, this gift provides 12 full-tuition scholarships for students who have graduated from Berklee City Music programs.

"The people at the Johnson Foundation understand the importance of investing in these young people early - some of these kids are only in middle school. Working with them for years and exposing them to the rigors of a Berklee education prepares them to succeed. They have the musical talent, discipline, and work ethic, and have been exposed to a wide range of musical styles. When they enroll as full-time students, they surpass our expectations. At a time when other funders are curtailing their philanthropic giving, the Johnson Foundation support is making a huge difference in the lives of aspiring young musicians."