Berklee World Strings, directed by faculty member Eugene Friesen, will present music from Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. Featured guests will include Brazilian percussionist/composer Café Edson da Silva and Berklee faculty members Leo Blanco, piano/composer; Jamey Haddad, drums; and Fernando Huergo, bass. The evening will also feature Mexican vocalist and Berklee professor Mili Bermejo in a special performance of "Pasarero" with bassist Dan Greenspan and pianist Tim Ray.
Da Silva, born in Rio de Janeiro and currently living in New York City, embodies the extraordinary rhythmic traditions and styles of Brazil. The original music "Café" creates, arranged for this concert by Berklee's Matthew Nicholl, captures a facet of Brazilian sentiment, saudade: a mixture of nostalgia, yearning, love, and peace. His pieces include tributes to the great Brazilian singer Clementine de Jesus and the legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius.
Leo Blanco is a Venezuelan pianist, arranger, and composer. He grew up in Mérida, where from an early age he was surrounded by Venezuelan folklore—a blend of African and European musical traditions—as well as jazz, classical music, and pop. Berklee World Strings will perform with Blanco on two of his compositions. Blanco has appeared at many jazz festivals, including Newport, Monterey, and Kobe.
Mili Bermejo, born in Argentina and raised in Mexico City, comes from a large family of celebrated musicians and has collected a library of songs from South America and Mexico. She will perform "Pasarero," a composition by Carlos Aguirre of the Aca Seca Trio that's included on a new album featuring Bermejo with Berklee World Strings.
The December concert will also feature the premiere of "Venetango," a new work for strings by Eugene Friesen, as well as student soloists Naseem Alatrash, Joshue Ashby Humphreys, Alex Galle-From, Sierra Hull, Rika Ikeda, Jul Kang, Patrick M'gonigle, Malcolm Parson, and Jakub Trasak.
The Berklee World Strings are devoted to the art of ensemble playing and the development of new music that features improvisation and the rhythmic capabilities of string instruments and players. Drawing from Celtic, bluegrass, jazz, rock, and classical styles, the ensemble presents original programs that include new compositions and arrangements from a wide variety of the world's music. The group features Berklee's finest string players from countries around the world and the United States.