BerkleeNYC Announces Interim Directors for Master of Arts Program
BerkleeNYC, Berklee's campus in New York City, which will launch its first graduate program starting in September of 2021, announces Will Wells ’11, Rona Siddiqui, and Loudon Stearns ’01 as its interim program directors. The Master of Arts in Creative Media and Technology degree is a one-year, on-campus program with three specializations: songwriting and production led by Wells, live experience design led by Stearns, and writing and design for musical theater led by Siddiqui.
“I am thrilled to welcome Will Wells, Rona Siddiqui, and Loudon Stearns to the BerkleeNYC faculty as the interim directors for our exciting Master of Arts in Creative Media and Technology program,” said Stephen Webber, executive director of BerkleeNYC and dean of strategic initiatives. “Their experiences and accomplishments across the worlds of music, performance, technology, and theater will shape our students’ visions for the future of the entertainment industry.”
Will Wells is a producer, songwriter, professional musician, and recording engineer. He recently served as executive producer and cowriter of the debut album from Anthony Ramos, whom he met while working as electronic music producer the Tony-, Grammy-, and Pulitzer Prize–winning hit Broadway musical Hamilton. Wells was commissioned by ESPN to write the first-ever theme for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, directing the national live television broadcast in December 2019. Most recently, he collaborated with Gabe Fox-Peck to produce "Stand Up," the end-title song for the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, performed by Grammy- and Tony-winning actress Cynthia Erivo. Throughout his career, Wells has crafted an impressive résumé working with renowned artists such as Quincy Jones, Imagine Dragons, Logic, Wyclef Jean, DJ Premier, LMFAO, Pentatonix, and others in the studio and on stage.
Rona Siddiqui is a composer and lyricist based in New York. Her show Salaam Medina: Tales of a Halfghan is an autobiographical comedy about growing up bi-ethnic in America, directed by Raja Feather Kelly. Her other musicals include One Good Day, The Tin, and Treasure in NYC. She has been lauded for her accomplishments with the Jonathan Larson Grant and Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award. Siddiqui has also been named one of the “Women to Watch” by the Broadway Women's Fund and is currently an MTF Maker through the Musical Theatre Factory. She is the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Lyric Award, the Mary Rodgers/Lorenz Hart Award, and the ASCAP Foundation Max Dreyfus Scholarship.
Siddiqui has written pieces for Wicked's 16th anniversary commemoration Flying Free, 24 Hour Musicals, Prospect Theater Company, the Civilians, New York City Gay Men's Chorus, and the 52nd Street Project, and has performed concerts of her work at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Feinstein's/54 Below. Her original scores include The Vagina Monologues, Middletown, and The Good Person of Szechuan. She has music directed the off-Broadway Pulitzer Prize–winning play A Strange Loop, for which she received an Obie, along with the cast and creative team at Playwrights Horizons; Bella: An American Tall Tale (Playwrights Horizons); and Who's Your Baghdaddy: Or How I Started the Iraq War (St. Lukes Theatre). She has orchestrated for Broadway Records, Broadway Backwards, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.
Loudon Stearns is an associate professor at Berklee, a course author and instructor at Berklee Online, and an active media artist. In the Contemporary Writing and Production Department at Berklee, he prepares students to work as independent composers and producers in a technology-laden music industry. For Berklee Online, Stearns focuses on the latest electronic music styles and music-technology innovations, showing students how to analyze contemporary styles and use the latest music technology in their own works. An innovator in both education and art, he authored a massive open online course (MOOC) called Introduction to Music Production, providing a free, high-quality education to hundreds of thousands of students. He received awards from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) for excellence in teaching, and from the Emerson College Visual and Media Art Department for excellence in media art.
Listen to an episode of Signal Flow, a Berklee podcast cohosted by Stearns:
Stearns has a Bachelor of Music in contemporary writing and production and bass performance from Berklee, and a Master of Fine Arts in media art from Emerson College. He pulls from a broad range of skills in the creation of multimedia performances that include live music, projection mapping, dance, visual art, and interactivity. Of particular interest to Stearns is treating the world as a performance space by using internet streaming to coordinate numerous performers and audiences on different parts of the globe. The technical and aesthetic challenges of this type of performance are new and exciting, and require the sort of broad skill set that Stearns has developed through his extensive education in music, sound, performance, motion graphics, photography, programming, and construction.
BerkleeNYC will host a virtual open house about creative careers with Wells, Siddiqui, and Stearns on Saturday, December 5, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST.