Berklee Today

NAMM, IAJE, and NARAS Honor Lee Eliot Berk

IAJE President David Baker (left) presents IAJE's Humanitarian Award to President Berk on January 22 in Manhattan at IAJE's 31st annual conference.
Photo by Rob Hayes

By Fred Bouchard

As his term as Berklee's president enters its final months, Lee Eliot Berk has been honored in many quarters for his service to music and to the music industry as a whole.

On January 17, Berk received the Lifetime Achievement Award from NAMM, the International Music Products Industry, from NAMM's Executive Director Joe Lamond. The award recognizes Berk's role in strengthening relationships between NAMM and music education. Under Berk's leadership, Berklee has been a longtime participant in the NAMM Show and the organization. Berk served on the board of the NAMM-affiliated American Music Conference and participated in all of the NAMM-sponsored global economic summits with music-industry leaders to advance music-making opportunities.

On January 22, at the annual International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) 31st Annual Conference in Manhattan, IAJE President David N. Baker conferred on Berk his organization's Humanitarian Award. Cited among Berk's achievements were Berklee's development of jazz as an academic discipline; outreach to women, minorities, and urban teens; establishment of music therapy as an accepted component of modern medicine; integration of music technology; and use of music as a bridge between peoples, cultures, and countries.

Berk's acceptance speech was brief and humble. "For decades," Berk said, "we at Berklee sent delegations of faculty, staff, and students to participate at all levels in IAJE, which shares our values. It's been a wonderful 30-year trip for me as the son of the founder who transformed an embryonic jazz studio into an established, recognized institution for the study of jazz-the first with a formally organized jazz pedagogy. When my father retired, he gave me the unique opportunity to carry on with his life's work. I'm especially fortunate to have had my wife, Susan, by my side through so many memorable Berklee events and experiences all through this remarkable journey. I have enjoyed relationships with wonderful students, faculty, and staff who have shared the passion for advancing jazz and jazz education and with the many wonderful jazz masters and family of friends here at IAJE. I'm so pleased and grateful to receive this very special recognition from this great organization."

In Los Angeles, on February 7, the Recording Academy®, bestowed on Berk the President's Merit Award for outstanding educational achievement. The presentation was made by Dan Carlin, chairman of the Recording Academy®, in one of the ceremonies accompanying the Grammy® Award presentations. The award honors those individuals whose unique contributions have substantially altered the evolution of our music industry. Other recipients include Van Cliburn, Ahmet Ertegun, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Stern, and Berklee founder Lawrence Berk.

On March 20, Berk will be honored at the annual Carnivale of the Boston Institute for Arts Therapy, a respected organization dedicated to using the healing power of the arts to help people cope with a variety of life's challenges. Berk will be cited for his efforts in promoting music therapy at Berklee.

When asked during an alumni gathering following the IAJE presentation in New York why he was retiring, Berk remarked with a smile, "I realized that I was welcoming back the children of some of my students and that if I stayed on, I'd soon be welcoming back their grandchildren. This seemed inappropriate at a college as youthful and dynamic as Berklee."