Student Groups Play Top NYC and DC Venues

  The Berklee Blue Note Ensemble 2008 (from the left): Melissa Aldana, Dan Pugach, Bill Pierce, Nadia Washington, Jeonglim Yang, and Michael Palma (Jeremy Sinclair is not pictured)
  Nick Balkin

For the 10th straight year, a group comprising top student instrumentalists and composers played at New York City's legendary Blue Note Jazz Club on Monday, May 19. The Berklee Blue Note Ensemble, directed by veteran saxophonist Bill Pierce, chair of the Woodwind Department, played their original compositions as well as jazz standards. The band features an international lineup with saxophonist Melissa Aldana (Chile), bassist Jeonglim Yang (South Korea), drummer Dan Pugach (Israel), and three musicians from Dallas, Texas: Jeremy Sinclair (trumpet), Nadia Washington (vocals), and Michael Palma (piano). The next day, the group visited radio station WBGO-FM for a live in-studio performance and interview.

Birds of a different stylistic feather, the student string band Dr. Magpie, performed in Washington, DC, as part of the Kennedy Center's Conservatory Project on May 22. The six-piece group, consisting of fiddlers Ben Powell and Duncan Wickel, guitarists Jon Sosin and Adam Tressler (who doubles on banjo), mandolinist Eric Robertson, and bassist Dan Carpel, plays a synthesis of styles that touch on pop, bluegrass, Celtic, Django Reinhardt-style jazz, and more. During the trip, the band also recorded a one-hour special for XM Radio's Real Jazz 70 channel at XM's studios in Washington.

(From the left): Ben Powell, Duncan Wickel, Dan Carpel, Eric Robertson, Jonathan Sosin, and Adam Tressler of Dr. Magpie onstage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  
Margot Schulman  

"We hope these performance and broadcast opportunities give our students a good feel for two important aspects of the successful musician's life," says Rob Hayes, Berklee's assistant vice president for public information. "Playing on these stages and in these studios where so many of their heroes have performed is a thrill they don't forget."