Berklee Holds Auditions and Interviews in Bolivia for the First Time

By 
Margot Edwards
June 8, 2015
Press release
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Berklee will visit Bolivia for the first time as part of the Berklee World Tour, where the college holds live audition and interview (A&I) events for musicians interested in studying at Berklee. All applicants will be considered for a host of scholarships that Berklee awards annually. College representatives plan to hear 120 musicians in La Paz (June 22 and 23) and Santa Cruz (June 25 and 26). A group of current Berklee students will also lead clinics and workshops, and perform concerts with local musicians.

Berklee’s trip to Bolivia is the result of an initiative by students including Bolivian vocalist Luis Gamarra, and Colombian percussionist Esteban Roa Fuentes. Gamarra, who was the only Berklee student from Bolivia at the time, created the nonprofit group Bolivian Sounds in 2013 to showcase talent from the country to the world and provide opportunities for Bolivian musicians, artists, and dancers.  

“It would be absurd to think I’m the only musician from Bolivia who’s talented enough to be at Berklee,” said Gamarra. “I know there are thousands of kids who could be here. I just want to give them the same opportunity that I had.” With that goal in mind, the group successfully petitioned the college’s Office of Admissions to add the country to Berklee’s audition sites.

Watch a music video of Bolivia's National Anthem performed by Gamarra and Sonidos Bolivianos:

“We are excited to make this first official audition and interview visit to Bolivia,” said Damien Bracken, Berklee’s dean of admissions. “Berklee has a long tradition of recruiting talented students from all over Latin America and we are confident that our exploration there will yield new talents that may otherwise have gone undiscovered.”

The student group—Gamarra and Fuentes, along with American violinists Alan Price and Mona Seyed-Bolorforosh, and Nicaraguan flutist Juan Rosales—will also film a music video in Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. The song, an arrangement of the Bolivian National Anthem, is a collaboration between Bolivian and Berklee musicians recorded using traditional folkloric instruments and featuring Grammy nominee Eddy Navia on the charango. The video is planned for release on August 6 to coincide with Bolivia Independence Day.

Musicians come to Berklee from every corner of the earth, making the college uniquely international. More than 30 percent of the college’s students come from outside the United States, representing more than 100 countries, and Berklee has strong ties to South America with Berklee International Network (BIN) partner schools in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador. The A&I events in Bolivia are part of a larger effort to increase the number of students from underrepresented areas of the world and foster a significant cultural exchange.

Berklee’s unique audition and interview process is designed to uncover the applicant’s musical strengths and academic goals while helping assess their aptitude and ability to succeed in the college's dynamic environment. Each year, Berklee’s World Tour visits more than 50 cities in search of talented instrumentalists and vocalists—an effort that is supported with more than $40 million in scholarship funds available to prospective and continuing students.

Watch a video featuring Luis Gamarra talking about the project.

Margot Edwards is a manager in the Office of Media Relations. Media inquiries: medwards@berklee.edu.