A Thousand Miles, a Giant Step

Danielle Dreilinger
May 23, 2008
Giant Steps cochair John Connaughton shares the campaign's initial goal
Faculty percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington plays "Giant Steps" with her band at the April 26 kickoff.
Photo by Phil Farnsworth
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

With Mark Small

Berklee is swarming with plans for the future: expanded facilities, scholarships, and innovations yet to be imagined. It can be daunting to imagine how the college will attain its ambitions. But as they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Last month, Berklee took a giant step forward.

On April 26, friends of Berklee gathered at the InterContinental Hotel on Boston's waterfront for the official kickoff of Giant Steps, Berklee's capital campaign.

The campaign's name comes from the famous composition by jazz legend John Coltrane, President Roger H. Brown told the audience. "Coltrane's song is really a jazz étude," Brown said. "If you can improvise on it, it's a milestone in your development as a musician."

Similarly, the capital campaign-the first Berklee has ever launched-will mark a milestone in the development of the college.

Berklee trustee Mike Dreese told the guests why he decided to get involved.

"I'm cochairing this campaign in part because I have been around the college for so long and know the great things it has accomplished on a shoestring and what possibilities lie ahead. Most importantly, I am motivated to financially support the college and work on behalf of the students," he said.

The college originally expected to raise $40 million by June 1, 2011-$15 million for scholarships, $15 million for facilities, and $10 million to support innovation. However, "like all institutions, our list of needs and dreams exceeds $40 million," cochair John Connaughton said.

"The board of trustees, Mike, and I feel we can take a 'Giant Step' and raise the goal to $50 million. This is a tremendous feat for Berklee. We are particularly grateful to the early donors and thank them for their generosity. I hope you will all help us spread the word."

According to Connaughton, the college decided to increase the goal after contributions from early donors topped $27.5 million. "The campaign leadership firmly believes this early generosity will allow us to accomplish even more on our list to realize Berklee's vision of becoming the world's leading institute of contemporary music," he said.

Other speakers included board of trustees chair Jeff Shames, faculty member Lori Landay, and soon-to-be graduates Amy Heidemann and Kundayi Musinami. Heidemann and Musinami both said that scholarships were crucial in allowing them to come to Berklee.

"Only through my scholarship has this become a reality," said Heidemann, a vocalist.

Musinami arrived at Berklee from his hometown of Harare, Zimbabwe, with only $12 in his pocket. The scholarship office swooped in to close the gap. "Four years later, I am still here enjoying the educational experience and realizing my dream because of generous contributions made to Berklee," he said.

Before introducing the featured musical artists, President Brown explained why he is passionate about the possibilities of the campaign and the future of the college.

"Berklee gives access to a college education to students who might not otherwise aspire to it," he said. "Berklee helps make Boston a great city. No city has a school like Berklee that is dedicated to jazz, blues, Latin, gospel, hip-hop, and electronica. As well, Berklee has had a global impact."

Faculty drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and her quartet then played, among other selections, Carrington's arrangement of Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Grammy-winning pianist Michel Camilo performed fiery solo renditions of three original songs, including his trademark tune "Caribe," which was recorded by Dizzy Gillespie. The wildly enthusiastic audience gave the pianist standing ovations after each number.

Guests left sharing the roadmap of what it will take to meet the campaign's goals and help Berklee stride forward into the 21st century.

Learn more about the Giant Steps campaign.


Lead donors to the Giant Steps capital campaign

Amy and David Abrams
Luis Alvarez
Vivian Beard
Josh and Anita Bekstein
Lee Eliot and Susan Berk
Lawrence and Cynthia Bethune
Debbie and Alan Bieri
Ernie and Kristen Boch
Michael and Susan Brown
Roger Brown and Linda Mason
Pat Casale and Gary Gut
Alf and Sally Clausen
John and Stephanie Connaughton
Michael Connelly
Ronald Crutcher and Betty Neal
William and Patrice Cunningham
Jeff and Dana Davis
Michael and Laura Dreese
Dunkin' Brands
Paul and Sandy Edgerly
Gary and Joan Eisenson
Roy and Joanne Ferber
Elliott and Marjorie Hillback
Charles and Cynthia Hirschhorn
William and Marjorie Holodnak
Steven Holtzman
Nora Huvelle and David Lubin
Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Scholarship Foundation
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
John and Tammy MacWilliams
Massachusetts Cultural Facility Fund
Ann and David McKay
Allan and Mary Ann McLean
Robert and Sally Neilson
Isabel and Alan Pisano
Alan and Cam Reese
Sachi Sato and Alex Rigopulos
Maria and George Roach
Carmichael Roberts Jr. and Sandra Park
Daniel and Susan Rothenberg
John and Ann Ellen Rutherford
Rhoda and William Sapers
Timothy and Jean Schmit
Jeff Shames
Lawrence and Ann Simpson
Janet Marie Smith
Sociedad General de Autores y Editores
Tudor Foundation
Sandra Uyterhoeven
Susan Whitehead
Tania Zouikin and Daniel Prigmore