Berklee Summer Concert SeriesMia Verdoorn
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She started taking piano lessons at the age of 11 and voice lessons at the age 14. While attending St. Mary's Diocesan School for Girls in Pretoria for High School, Mia passed the Grade 8 Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) Voice exam with distinction and the same board's Grade 7 piano exam with Merit.
In 2006 she was approached to record an Afrikaans album consisting mainly of covers of classic Afrikaans tunes in a more contemporary and Brazilian style. This was a very exciting venture and it was extremely interesting for her to work with some prominent South African musicians and producers such as Randall Abrahams, Wessel Van Rensburg, Johan Botha, Juan Oosthuizen and Dave Thompson. Upon being accepted into Berklee, she decided to put the album on hold to further her studies and get a degree before the completion and release of the album.
In the same year, she was privileged enough to travel to America on a choir tour organized by her school's choirmaster, Michael Barrett. They visited several towns and cities on the east coast, including Boston, New Canaan, Bethel and New York City. They stayed with generous host families who had high school kids they same age as the touring group, and who were also involved in their school choirs and A cappella groups. They performed typical South African songs and dances, and sang in as many of the country's 11 national languages as the repertoire would allow.
In 2008 she was asked to be one of five adjudicators for the University of Johannesburg's Vocal serenade competition held over three nights at the San Lam Auditorium at the Kingsway Campus of the University of Johannesburg. The competition consisted of 12 male and female dormitories competing against each other for the coveted trophy and title of "Best Vocal Res on Campus".
Before coming to Berklee, Mia focused much of her time in the Pop/Rock genre, as well as Classical set repertoire for the ABRSM exams, but started venturing more into Jazz, Blues and Latin music since attending Berklee. During the Spring semester of 2009, she represented South Africa in the International Folk Festival held in the Berklee Performance Center together with other students also from South Africa, as well as other African countries.
Mia was awarded her first Berklee Achievement based scholarship of $6000 lasting for one academic year at the end of the Spring semester in 2009. Her scholarship was then renewed and increased in March 2010.
In the Fall semester of 2009, she participated in the International Study abroad program organized by Berklee's Office of International Programs held at the Philippos Nakas Conservatory in Athens, Greece. This study abroad program was for the entire duration of the Fall semester (16 weeks) and gave her a wonderful opportunity to broaden her horizons and perspectives through music. She was able to travel throughout Greece, not only with the Greek civilization class, but also by her own accord. In conjunction with Berklee credited courses such as Counterpoint 1, Conducting 1 and Private Lessons, she was able to take the Modern Greek Language and Crossroads of Greek Rhythms and Sound as Liberal Arts electives, which proved to be very beneficial and enriching.
In the summer semester of 2010, Mia went back to South Africa to Intern for Sony Music SA as well as Warner Music Gallo Africa during the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup period. Here, she got to meet the legendary trumpet player, Hugh Masekela, and was asked to have a radio interview on one of South Africa's most popular radio stations, Jozi FM. During this period, she also had two very successful sold out performances in which she launched her first EP "What's Happening".
Mia has been involved in several upper semester students' projects in terms of recordings and performances and is currently a contributing member of Berklee's Music Business Journal. She has been on the Berklee College of Music Dean's List for five semesters in a row.