Berklee Today

Eleventh Encore Gala Raises $800,000 for Scholarships

  From the left: John Schoenbaum (Blue Cross Blue Shield), Roger Brown, Tim O'Brien (Blue Cross), Linda O'Brien, John Thorbahn (Thorbahn Associates), and Jana Thorbahn
  Phil Farnsworth

Berklee musicians joined to create a musical extravaganza at the Boston Park Plaza again this year for more than 900 guests to raise money to benefit Berklee City Music Program (BCMP), the college's mentoring and scholarship initiative for under-privileged youth. This year the Encore Gala raised $800,000, a record for the event.

After an elegant dinner, partygoers enjoyed the sounds of more than 150 faculty, students, and alumni musicians performing in themed nightclub settings. Guests danced until midnight in the Margarita Room and the Berklee Groove Club to the sounds of the Berklee Tower of Power Ensemble, Jazz Hip-Hop Orchestra, and the Berklee Salsa Ensemble.

World-renowned rock legend Al Kooper performed with Berklee's Funky Faculty to a packed house in the Blues Room. Other guest appearances included Latin music maestro Eguie Castrillo and Boston's premier jazz vocalist Rebecca Parris, headlining with the Berklee Rainbow Band directed by Phil Wilson. Donald Harrison '81, a visiting artist from New Orleans, performed with a top-notch group of BCMP students. Guests got to see firsthand how their contributions benefit these promising students from the Dorchester, Roxbury, Chelsea, Brighton and Hyde Park areas of Boston.

Berklee City Music student vocalist Ashley Rodriguez  
Phil Farnsworth  

The Encore Gala has raised more than $4 million for BCMP. Since the program's inception in 1991, more than 500 underserved, inner-city teens have had free access to a music education. Many have graduated from Berklee, others have gone on to Dartmouth, Harvard, and other institutions. BCMP builds a foundation of musical and life skills for a successful transition from high school to college and to a career in music.

For the third year, William J. Lynch and Associates was the gala's principal lead sponsor. ARAMARK Education, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Bright Horizons, Bain Capital Children's Charity Ltd., Newbury Comics, and Thorbahn Associates were colead sponsors. Berklee trustees, William Lynch, Elliott Hillback and Steven Holtzman served as cochairs.

A special Blues Breakfast this year, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence J. Sapanski, kept guests grooving from midnight to 2:00 a.m. Also Stonyfield Farm offered a delicious complimentary sundae bar in addition to the numerous dessert buffets offered throughout the venue.

The Superstar Ballroom was sponsored by Elliott and Marjorie Hillback, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, and Subaru of New England. Music room sponsors included Academic Risk Resources and Insurance, Ascent Venture Partners, Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, Charles River Ventures, Cutler Associates, Goody Clancy, Digitas, Lee Munder Capital Group, Longwood Security Services, Miller Dyer Spears, Piano Forte, Professional Staffing Group, Sepracor, Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin.

The silent auction, chaired by Berklee trustee Isabel Pisano, raised nearly $90,000 and included signed items from celebrities, tickets to the Grammy Awards, trips to the Puerto Rico Heineken JazzFest and the Sundance Film Festival, and musical equipment from such companies as Fender, Godin, Pearl, Korg, Roland, and Yamaha.