SGAE-Berklee Partnership Bears Fruit
By Lesley Mahoney
Since childhood, Guillermo Marin, a composer and pianist from Zaragoza, Spain, had dreamed of coming to Berklee, but he knew his family couldn't afford the tuition. Thanks to a scholarship for composers and songwriters from the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), studying at Berklee went from impossibility to opportunity.
Marin was among the first three SGAE scholars who began their studies at Berklee in the fall 2009 semester. Berklee has made the call for a new wave of applicants and will audition and interview finalists this winter in Mexico City, Madrid, and Buenos Aires at SGAE's ARTeria network of performance, recording, and educational sites. In September 2010, seven additional SGAE scholars will enter Berklee.
While Marin is only a few months into his studies, he has already seen the benefits of a Berklee education. "I've noticed a great improvement in my piano technique as well as my ear training and knowledge of harmony," he says. He plans to major in contemporary writing and production and has already assisted in visiting-artist clinics with producer and recording engineer George Massenburg as well as with mix engineer and producer Benny Faccone '78. In fact, Faccone mixed one of Marin's tunes during his clinic. "It was one of the most amazing things that has happened to me as both a producer and a student," Marin recalls.
In addition to Marin, Amparo Edo Biol and Sergio Jiménez Lacima were selected for SGAE scholarships from a pool of 320 applicants. Edo Biol is an aspiring composer who has been commissioned to write chamber and orchestral music in a range of styles. A French horn player, she holds a performance degree and is pursuing a composition degree from a conservatory in her native Valencia. For Edo Biol, Berklee represents a new musical frontier. "There are new kinds of music, systems, and feelings that are still unknown to me, and I realize I need to know them," she says.
An accomplished classical pianist and composer, Jiménez Lacima set his sights on Berklee because of the college's opportunities to study jazz and film scoring. "I love film music, and I know that some of the greatest film composers have studied here at Berklee," he says.
Also from Zaragoza, Spain, Jiménez Lacima has won several national and international composition awards, conducted wind ensembles and symphonic orchestras, and has performed with Spanish music luminaries Almudena Cano, Eva Alcázar, and Ramón Coll.
Particularly in today's economic climate, the SGAE Scholarships are vital to Berklee, because they make it possible for gifted students with financial need to attend the world's leading contemporary music college. Annually, Berklee awards $25 million in merit-based scholarships, enabling the college to enroll many students who could not attend without financial assistance.
Increasing scholarship support is one of the principal goals of the Giant Steps capital campaign. To date the campaign has raised $39 million toward its $50 million goal, $15 million of which is earmarked for scholarships.
"The SGAE scholarships are a unique opportunity to experience not only the benefits of a high-end education at the world's leading contemporary music school but the advantages of engaging with a community of world-class [composers]," says Eduardo "Teddy" Bautista, the chair of SGAE's board of directors and a Berklee trustee.
SGAE's support of Berklee furthers the college's quest to extend its reach. This cultural partnership will yield what promises to be the world's largest offshore American music college. Berklee Valencia is slated to open in 2012 and will focus on contemporary music, international business, and cutting-edge music technology.
The importance of a Berklee education is clear for Berklee's current SGAE scholars. "Now that I was blessed with this amazing opportunity, I'm sure I won't let anyone down - especially myself," says Marin. "I'm going to work hard!"
Lesley Mahoney is a writer and editor in Berklee's Communications Department