Berklee Latino Awards Scholarships

Brian Gonzalez
February 26, 2014
Left to right: Itzel Salinas Reyna and Damaris Mallma Porras

Berklee Latino is the first ever all-Spanish program to be offered by Berklee. The program, which took place in Mexico City this past January, provided the opportunity for 145 students from Latin America and the United States to come together to grow as musicians, many of whose dream is to some day attend Berklee in Boston. Two attendees, Itzel Salinas Reyna and Damaris Mallma Porras, were each awarded a scholarship through Berklee Latino to take part of other Berklee programs. Salinas was awarded a full scholarship to attend Berklee’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program and Mallma was awarded a Berklee Online scholarship.

Salinas studies at the Escuela Nacional de Música (National School of Music) in Mexico City, where she specializes in classical saxophone. She also takes jazz lessons on the side and is enrolled in Berklee Online where she takes Jazz Improvisation with Gary Burton.

“I am really excited to attend the Five-Week Program. Eventually I would like to attend a full program at Berklee in Boston and focus on jazz composition or performance,” says Salinas, who is currently working on an original musical project titled “Deimusaranea;” a fusion of rock, jazz, and noise utilizing original compositions. She plays in the big bands of Joe D’Etienne, Escuela Nacional de Música, and the Laboratorio de Música Libre of Remi Álvarez; she also actively participates in other projects where she explores traditional jazz, contemporary, and original music.

Salinas saw Berklee Latino as an opportunity to get to know Berklee professors close to home. Now, she counts it among her best musical experiences. “I really liked the classes and enjoyed the expertise in jazz that the professors brought and their overall musicality. Without doubt it was one of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had."

Previously, Salinas had the opportunity to participate in Carnegie Hall’s cultural exchange in Mexico, and the Encuentro Internacional de Saxofón (International Conference of Saxophone). She won third place in the V Concurso Panamericano de Jazz, has played with puerto rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón, and has participated in other national jazz festivals.

Mallma was already an accomplished musician before attending Berklee Latino; she won two "gaviotas de plata" awards at the prestigious International Festival de Viña del Mar in 2008 for best folkloric song, sung at the White House in 2013, was nominated for a Latin Grammy, has recorded two CDs, and hosts her own TV show in Peru.

Mallma was awarded the Berklee Online scholarship; she plans to enroll in one of the singer-songwriter courses. She decided to enroll to Berklee Latino because  “[she] wanted the opportunity to learn from Berklee teachers and to share and experience with students from different countries, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live this adventure in my own language.”

She is in the process of recording her third album and finalizing the details for her tour through the U.S. in July. “I want to reinvent the Andina music, so that it can reach the rest of the world and people can hear it. I am very proud of my roots and my country,” says Mallma.