Berklee Today

L.A. Newsbriefs
By Peter Gordon, Director
Berklee Center in Los Angeles

Peter Gordon '78
Photo by Lester Cohen

The combination of music and technology offers a constantly changing array of exciting new possibilities. Distance learning is one such possibility and Los Angeles-area alumni recently have begun to experience the value of Berklee's vision in this field. A high-speed broadband connection between the college and Dolby Labs in Burbank has allowed a classroom of students in Boston and a group of Southern California alumni to share events in real time.

This past March, award-winning composer Alf Clausen '66 shared his experiences in songwriting and scoring for The Simpsons. This session at Dolby was entitled Decomposing: the Process and it gave a unique behind-the-scenes view of the dynamics involved in delivering music to the show. Song demos, recording session examples, and actual final video footage all served to provide an overview that was fascinating and enlightening. The value and potential of this bicoastal connection was clear when panelists took questions from audience members at both locations.

In April, we used the format again to present New Outlets for the Songwriter. John Houlihan, Frankie Pine, and Tyler Bacon, three successful Los Angeles-based participants in the field of music supervision, spoke about the new opportunities for songwriters that have emerged as songs become increasingly prominent in movies and television. The guest speakers shared thoughts on how to submit songs for consideration and played examples of the most in-demand styles.

Berklee's distance learning technology continues to expand. Later this year, events are planned to connect alumni in Los Angeles to those in other cities, as well as a three-city simulcast between Los Angeles, Boston, and Athens, Greece.

As for alumni news, on the performing front, drummer Nate Morton '94 has been touring since last February with the Grammy-nominated pianist/singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton. Keyboardist Andrew Dorsett '95 has been playing with singer Javier and singer/actress Jennifer Love Hewitt. Hewitt performed at the Wango Tango concert in Los Angeles in May. Bassist Jesse Stern '92 performed with Coolio at the Winter NAMM Show.

At the Annual Los Angeles Alumni Brunch in Los Angeles, Dr. Gerhardt Lengeling (left) founder of Emagic congratulates drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. '93. Lengeling received Berklee's Golden Clef Award and Laboriel received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The GO: Organic Orchestra, featuring Matt Zebley '93 on woodwinds, recently performed in Los Angeles with sax legend Yusef Lateef. Bassist Eric Holden '99 continues to tour with singer Josh Groban. The Josh Groban Live in Concert CD/DVD, which features Holden as well as guitarist Tariq Akoni '92 and drummer J.R. Robinson '75, has been on the Billboard Top 100 charts since it was released before Christmas. Drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. '93 has just returned from a European tour with Paul McCartney and is now working on McCartney's new album.

Renowned electronic music artist Brian "B.T." Transeau '89 recently was invited by Apple to appear at the kick-off event for the new iPod. BT performed his Laptop Symphony: A Live Remix Set.

Even though he lives in Los Angeles, percussionist Steve Pemberton '79 has become the newest member of the Boston Pops orchestra, replacing long-time drummer Fred Buda. In addition, he performed with Amy Grant and Vince Gill, including the taping of a TV show that will air on the A&E Channel in December.

In the world of film and television, composer Michael Levine '76 has been working with Hans Zimmer on the score to Matchstick Men, a black comedy directed by Ridley Scott. In addition, he worked with composer Harry Gregson- Williams on the animated feature Sinbad: Legends of the Seven Seas. Wes Nagy '81 assisted composer Danny Pelfrey '75 on the shows American Dreams and Strong Medicine.

Jason Tregoe Newman '99, working with composer David Schwartz '74, recently finished a season as music editor on NBC's prime-time series Hidden Hills. He was also the sound designer and mixer for the Lifetime channel's Journals. Additionally, Newman has served as the recording engineer on an album with a Japanese artist and prodigy named Hitoshi Watanabe, who has gold records to his credit.

Frank Macchia '80 recently did orchestrations for composer John Ottman for the Fox film, Xmen 2 as well as orchestrations for the James Cameron Imax film Ghosts of the Abyss for composer Joel McNeely. Macchia also composed some background cue music for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and assisted composer George S. Clinton on music for the films Austin Powers 3, and The Santa Clause 2. Macchia's latest project is an original jazz-fusion album inspired by the Galapagos Islands, featuring soloists Billy Childs and Grant Geissman.

That's it for now. Stay in touch.

—Peter Gordon '78, Director,
Berklee Center in Los Angeles