Berklee College of Music presents Berklee Flamenco, a five-piece student group directed by five-time Latin Grammy Award–winner and Berklee artist-in-residence Javier Limón, performing as part of the Kennedy Center's Conservatory Project. The vibrant program includes original works by flamenco guitar virtuoso Paco de Lucía, by Limón, and by the group's pianist, Ariadna Castellanos Rivas.
Berklee Flamenco reflects the spirit of the college's future campus in Valencia, Spain. Berklee Valencia will feature a curriculum with a particular focus to the diverse musical traditions of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East that converge in and around Valencia, attracting musicians from around the world to study contemporary music at a high level in the Mediterranean.
Audiences can catch Berklee Flamenco's free performance on February 26 at 6:00 p.m. in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, located at 2700 F Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. Because admission is free, early arrival is encouraged. The performance will be webcast live at kennedy-center.org, where past Berklee performances are also archived.
This is the eighth season of the Conservatory Project, the Kennedy Center's initiative to showcase students from America's finest music colleges and conservatories. Since the Conservatory Project's inception in 2004, Berklee students have presented jazz, country, salsa, bluegrass, folk/rock, improvisatory string music, and now flamenco.
A graduate of the Madrid Royal Conservatory where he studied piano and guitar, Javier Limón is an active composer and teacher. Limón began composing for flamenco artists but has since expanded his reach to compose music for Latin jazz musicians and Cuban artists. His many composition and production credits include major albums by renowned artists such as Paco de Lucía, Bebo Valdés, El Cigala, Enrique Morente, and Buika.
Berklee Flamenco includes:
- Pianist Ariadna Castellanos Rivas, Madrid, Spain
Pianist Ariadna Castellanos Rivas was born in Madrid in 1983, and began her music studies at age 6. When she was 17 she won a full scholarship to study classical piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London, where she graduated after four years. Throughout her music education she has been close to flamenco music, so after graduation she returned to Spain to work with famous flamenco figures and toured the world with flamenco dance companies.
After four years exploring new paths for piano in flamenco, she was signed by the production company Casa Limón for her first album, due this year. In 2009, after an impromptu audition in Madrid, she won the all-expenses-paid Presidential Scholarship to Berklee, where she is concentrating on improvisation and jazz. In May of 2010, at the college's commencement exercises, Castellanos Rivas was chosen to lead the tribute performance for flamenco legend Paco de Lucía, who was in attendance. She is a dual major at Berklee in professional music and performance.
- Qanunist and vocalist Ali Amr, Ramallah, West Bank
Ali Amr is a Palestinian musician born in 1991 in Morocco; he moved to Ramallah, in the West Bank, at the age of 6. Playing qanun and singing, Amr is a three-time first-prize winner in the Marcel Khalife Music Competition and performs frequently at various cultural sites in and around the Middle East. He studied at the Edward Said Conservatory in Ramallah, and has toured widely with Maqamat, the conservatory's performing ensemble, in Sweden, Norway, Dubai, Germany, Holland, and the United States. In 2007, he performed for the president of the Palestinian Authority and the princess of Jordan. Amr is a professional music major at Berklee, studying on a scholarship he won in an audition in Tel Aviv.
- Flutist Enrique "Kalani" Trinidad, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Flutist Enrique "Kalani" Trinidad was born in Dallas, Texas in 1987 and moved to Puerto Rico at the age of 4. Trinidad has won the Yamaha Young Performing Artist Award, the National Flute Association Jazz Masterclass Award, and special artistic recognition from the government of Puerto Rico. He has worked with jazz musicians such as John Benitez, Nestor Torres, Cachao, Paquito D'Rivera, and Alex Acuña, among others. In 2007, after an audition at Berklee's annual program in San Juan, Kalani was awarded the all-expenses-paid Presidential Scholarship to Berklee, where he is a dual major in music business/management and professional music.
- Double and electric bassist Tamir Shmerling, Tel Aviv, Israel
Tamir Shmerling is a double and electric bass player from Israel. He served as the bassist in the Israeli Defense Forces Orchestra from 2005–2008. Studies followed, on scholarship, at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, a Berklee International Network partner school. After a 2008 audition with faculty on their annual visit to Israel, Shmerling was awarded a scholarship to attend Berklee, where he has studied with Terri Lyne Carrington, Greg Osby, Jamey Haddad, Alain Mallet, and many other great teachers. During his time at the college, Shmerling has also had the honor to perform with artists such as Kevin Eubanks and Ignacio Berroa.
- Percussionist Sergio Martinez, Madrid, Spain
Percussionist Sergio Martinez was born in Madrid in 1977. He began his Afro-Latin percussion studies at age 15. Soon he added courses in Hindu percussion, and embraced Latin jazz, playing in the Taller de Músicos Big Band in Madrid. He later developed an interest in flamenco, and began to accompany top flamenco and jazz artists, in such venues as the Liceu in Barcelona, the Sydney Opera House, and the Paris Opéra, to name a few.
Martinez won a scholarship at Berklee's annual visit to the Panama Jazz Festival. In January 2011, he began studies in the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, the college's international jazz academy, whose artistic director is the celebrated Panamanian jazz pianist and composer Danilo Pérez.