Berklee presents seven groups on the main stage at Copley Square during the second annual Boston Book Festival, a free event open to the public with over 50 authors and presenters. Musical genres include bluegrass, folk, jazz, and flamenco.
10:00 a.m. - Berklee City Music All-Stars
The Berklee City Music All-Stars Ensemble is composed of the best and brightest City Music students, all of whom have attended Berklee's Five-Week Summer Performance Program on full-tuition scholarships. The ensemble performs multiple genres of contemporary music, including jazz, pop, hip-hop, and rhythm and blues, and is made up of talented urban teens from the Boston area. The All-Stars have performed in New York at an event hosted by Quincy Jones to promote national music education for youth. The Berklee City Music program has also been a recipient of the prestigious 2008 Coming Up Taller Award, and were featured performers at a ceremony that took place in the East Room of the White House.
11:00 a.m. - Alicia Lemke
A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Alicia Lemke is a young singer/songwriter who began writing her own brand of folk/pop music a little over a year ago. Musically speaking, Lemke is an amalgam of poetic and whimsical lyrics, lilting melody, fingerstyle guitar, and a graceful, strong voice. Her songwriting speaks of her own self-awareness, honesty, and personal experience. Lemke and her trio blend a steady harmonic interplay between piano and acoustic guitar with the rhythm of cajon and hand percussion, to breathe life and movement into her words.
12:00 p.m. - Berklee Performance and Slam Poetry
No costumes, no props—just raw creativity and a courageous soul. Performance poetry sweeps across all genres, spanning hip-hop, stand-up, comedy, theater, social commentary, bittersweet love ballads, and personal evolution. The end result is an electric event that inspires, transforms, entertains, and liberates.
Featuring Berklee students Jennifer Ayala, Sarah Mount, and Scott Kapelman, and Berklee Poetry Slam Team coach Caroline Harvey, a poet featured on HBO's Def Poetry Jam.
1:00 p.m. - Sierra Hull
Sierra Hull displays instrumental facility and musical maturity well beyond her age with Secrets, her national debut album. Hull began playing mandolin at age eight and was quickly noted on the national festival scene for her fluid, inventive picking—winning several mandolin and guitar championships in the process.
Hull has developed into an exquisite vocalist, as amply demonstrated by the largely vocal-driven material that composes Secrets. Working closely with coproducer Ron Block (Alison Krauss and Union Station), her vocal performances are disarmingly tender and eloquent, yet delivered with the confidence and honesty necessary to cut through a top-notch bluegrass ensemble. Among the musicians and vocalists joining her on Secrets are Block, Barry Bales, Dennis Crouch, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Clay Hess, Rob Ickes, Chris Jones, Jason Moore, Tony Rice, Dan Tyminski, Jim VanCleve, and the remarkably hard-driving seventeen-year-old banjo phenom Cory Walker, who has already played alongside Sierra for several years.
Hull was a featured performer on the Great High Mountain Tour, which included an all-star bluegrass lineup performing songs from the soundtracks of the hit movies O Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain. A seasoned performer, she has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry radio and television shows and shared the stage with bluegrass legends Alison Krauss, IIIrd Tyme Out, Sam Bush, Mountain Heart, and Ricky Skaggs.
An active member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), Hull has been performing in that organization's annual convention showcases of young bluegrass talent since she was ten. As cohost (with Ryan Holladay) of IBMA's educational DVD release Discover Bluegrass: Exploring American Roots Music, she played an integral part in their effort to introduce young audiences to this uniquely American genre.
2:00 p.m. - Hailey Niswanger
Hailey Niswanger's accomplishments reach far beyond the borders of her home in Portland, Oregon and well beyond her years. The alto saxophonist has shared the stage with jazz greats Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Duke, George Garzone, Red Holloway, Terell Stafford, Phil Woods, James Moody, Steve Nelson, Christian McBride, McCoy Tyner, Maceo Parker, Wynton Marsalis, and Mark Whitfield, among others. Her own quartet has performed at the Portland Jazz Festival, Jimmy Mak's Jazz Club, Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, and other jazz venues around Portland. In September 2009 she was selected as the new alto saxophonist for the internationally acclaimed big band the Either/Orchestra, occupying the chair previously held by Miguel Zenón and Jaleel Shaw, among others.
Niswanger's June 2009 recording debut as a leader—the self-produced and self-released CD Confeddie—established her throughout North America. The album was reviewed in such leading jazz magazines as Jazz Times and Jazziz and inspired veteran jazz critic Nat Hentoff to profile her in the Wall Street Journal. Confeddie appeared on the Jazz Week Top 50 chart 3 times and was among the top 100 jazz CDs in the country for two months. It features a rhythm section composed of fellow Berklee students Michael Palma on piano, Greg Chaplin on bass, and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums.
Niswanger was a featured artist at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where she won the festival's saxophone competition in 2008.
3:00 p.m. - Ariadna Riva's Band
Spanish pianist and composer Ariadna Rivas, the first Spanish Presidential Scholar at Berklee College of Music, graduated in 2005 from Guildhall School of Music in London, receiving a degree on classical piano. After returning to Spain she performed with many great figures of the flamenco scene, such as Niño Josele, Jorge Pardo, Agustín Carbonell "El Bola," and Jesús del Rosario.
She has toured with Jorge Pardo, Vivancos and others, playing in Israel, Athens, New York, the U.K., Turkey, Romania, and all over Spain.
Currently residing in Boston while attending Berklee, she took part in a tribute to the great flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía and performs around the New England/NYC area. She is also working on her upcoming album to be recorded with Javier Limón (Paco de Lucía, Bebo Valdés, and el Cigala).
4:00 p.m. - The Boston Boys
The sound of Eric Robertson and the Boston Boys is contemporary roots rock, blending reverence for the Beatles and the energy of the Avett Brothers with hints of Appalachian string band music. Featuring singer/songwriter Eric Robertson, the Boston Boys is a new band emerging from the hotbed of talented young players in the hip Boston music scene. All band members are either students at or alumni of the prestigious Berklee College of Music.