World Scholarship Tour Heads to Istanbul

Margot Edwards
October 30, 2009
Students perform in a concert at MMA.
Photo provided by MMA.

Berklee College of Music, the world's leading institution for the study of contemporary music, will be holding audition and interview events (A&I) in Turkey for the first time as part of the college's World Scholarship Tour, offering talented musicians the chance to be awarded a scholarship to attend the college. The events, hosted by Modern Müzik Akademisi (MMA) in Istanbul, November 22 to 26, will include clinics, lectures, an information session, a jam session, and a music educator's forum. For more information or to apply for an audition, visit or email

Follow along with the travelers on Berklee Blogs.

The clinics, lectures, information session, and jam session are open to the public and will be presented by some of Berklee's top faculty members, including Stephen Croes, dean of the Music Technology Division, and Michael Farquharson, professor of contemporary writing and production. Additionally, Berklee student ambassadors from Turkey, percussionist Emir Cerman, and flutist Burak Besir will join the team and assist in the presentations. For a schedule of events, visit MMA's website

Cerman, a film scoring major, was instrumental in bringing Berklee to Istanbul for the A&I events. Says Cerman, "Like other Turkish musicians, I always dreamed about Berklee coming to Turkey for auditions. I promised myself when I came here that I'd talk to them about doing this, so I presented a proposal to Jason Camelio in International Programs. He was really interested and we worked on the project for over a year.  I'm excited about starting a new bridge between Berklee and Istanbul."

An active alumni base made Turkey an ideal choice for a new A&I site.  Says Camelio, director of International Programs, "Since 1990, approximately 100 Turkish students have enrolled at Berklee. Many of them are back in Turkey now, where they work as performing artists, producers, and educators."  It makes sense for Berklee to establish a presence in a country with the largest young population in Europe. That population includes countless musicians. According to Camelio, there are dozens of music schools in just one area of Istanbul.  However, most of the schools are conservatories and do not teach contemporary music. Says Camelio, "This is our chance to open up an exchange of musical ideas between our cultures and share our approaches to contemporary music education. Presenting professors from diverse areas of the college is a way to stretch the boundaries."

Bora Uslusoy, director of host institution MMA, agrees, "MMA—and the whole music community in Istanbul—is very excited about the event. It is a great opportunity both for MMA students and the rest of the attendees to meet and learn from Berklee academics." 

In addition to increasing access of young Turkish musicians to a Berklee education, another goal of the trip is to solidify a music education base and strengthen ties to the local music community with the hopes of returning to hold a larger event in 2010, when Istanbul will be a European Union Capital of Culture.

While a large number of the candidates will be from Turkey, where response has been very strong, the auditions are by no means limited to Turkish musicians. Says Camelio, "This month we visited Belgrade, Serbia, for the first time—very successful trip—and in December we will be back in Athens. We expect that musicians from counties surrounding the Black Sea, like Bulgaria, Georgia, and Romania, may also join us."

Berklee's unique audition and interview process is designed to demonstrate the applicant's musical strengths and academic goals while helping the college assess their aptitude and ability to succeed in Berklee's dynamic environment. Each year, the World Scholarship Tour visits more than 40 cities throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America in search of talented instrumentalists and vocalists—an effort that is supported with $20 million in scholarship funds. Continuing to expand its reach globally, the college traveled to three African countries and Australia in the past year. Berklee now holds auditions on every continent except Antarctica.

Musicians come to Berklee from more than 70 countries, making the college uniquely international. More than 20 percent of the college's students are from outside the U.S.—among the largest percentages of all U.S. colleges and universities.

Modern Müzik Akademisi (MMA) is a private music institution in Istanbul, Turkey, that is built on an area of nearly 1,000 square meters. The curriculum covers guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals, sound technology, and music production. MMA premises include four studio/classrooms, concert hall, recording studio, lounge areas, library, and student services. MMA full-time certificate programs, part time courses, and workshops are available for all levels and ages. Full-time programs are 28 weeks—560 hours in total and considered as a preparatory program for Berklee majors. MMA hosts seminars, clinics, and live performances from different areas of music by top artists and industry professionals.