Berklee on the Road Heads to the Dominican Republic

Sophie Maricq
October 1, 2013
Larry Simpson, Juan Luis Guerra, Jason Camelio, Maria Irene Blanco with musicians from the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, Dominican Republic
Misael Rincón

Berklee a new Berklee on the Road (BOR) workshop to be held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from January 7-12, 2014. Launching the program at a press conference in Santo Domingo at the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, Berklee senior vice president for academic affairs, Larry Simpson, was joined by internationally renowned and multi-award winning singer-songwriter and Berklee alumnus/honorary doctorate recipient Juan Luis Guerra; Dominican Republic minister of culture, José Antonio Rodríguez; his chief of staff, Carlos Salcedo; and director of the Conservatorio Nacional de Música, Maria Irene Blanco.

“We are proud to present Berklee on the Road, another global initiative to further extend Berklee, our methods of teaching and the value of a contemporary music education across the world,” explained Simpson. “We are privileged to welcome such distinguished guests as Juan Luis Guerra, José Antonio Rodríguez, the Dominican Republic’s minister of culture, and Maria Irene Blanco, the director of the National Conservatory of Music, who have been instrumental in bringing the program to the Dominican Republic. We hope the workshop will serve to both hone the skills and make well-rounded artists of this country’s most talented musicians, inspiring them to follow their passion through further education and the pursuit of professional careers on the international stage.”

Berklee on the Road forms part of the college’s international strategy to make contemporary music education and the Berklee approach to teaching both accessible and affordable worldwide. In addition to the Dominican Republic, BOR programs will be held this year in Umbria, Italy Bogotá, Columbia, São Paulo, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, presenting the college’s first program in Spanish: Berklee Latino. 

Guerra, who hails from Dominican Republic and whose jazz, pop and merengue music has earned him 12 Latin Grammys, two Grammys, 10 Billboard Awards, and four Latin Billboard Awards, had this to say about the new program: “I am extremely proud to be part of the first Berklee on the Road program in the Dominican Republic. My family and musical roots are here and I know there is much musical talent in our country, so for Berklee to recognize this and dedicate time and resources to help our musicians further develop their talents is a huge honor, as well as a prime opportunity for them. This initiative demonstrates the commitment of the ministry of culture in developing music within the Dominican Republic and the value of Berklee as the world’s leading institution for contemporary music education.” 

“Berklee in Santo Domingo 2014 is a priority for the Ministry of Culture. I’m very excited that it will become a reality. We are going to host a team of amazing Berklee faculty in our Conservatory. The fact that this team will be in the Dominican Republic for 6 days sharing the Berklee method and their skills with Dominican students, makes me extremely happy” said José Antonio Rodríguez, Minister of Culture from The Dominican Republic. “I am certain that these 6 days of classes and activities will be very influential on the musical education of the participating students. Don’t be surprised if you see me in a classroom as a student, taking part in these lessons.”

The Santo Domingo workshop will include six days of intensive study with lectures and classes including harmony and chord scales for contemporary music performance, improvisation, comping, and writing; instrumental technique tailored to techniques specific to each musician’s instrument; as well a series of master classes from Berklee faculty and guest artists in composition, arranging, and songwriting. There will also be ensembles, evening jam sessions, and a concert to mark the end of the workshop.

The program is free and open to the most talented musicians in the Dominican Republic who are over the age of 15 and have been playing an instrument or singing for at least six months. More information about the program can be found here.

Applications must be submitted, together with supporting materials demonstrating musical experience and talents, via the online form by November 15. Accepted musicians will be announced on December 2.

In addition to this workshop, an annual full scholarship to attend Berklee is available for one exceptionally talented musician born in, or of descent from, the Dominican Republic. Sponsored by Michel Camilo, Dominican-born and globally acclaimed Grammy, Latin Grammy, and Emmy award-winning jazz pianist and composer. Between 2008 and 2013, Berklee has offered 31 undergraduate scholarships to applicants from the Dominican Republic, representing in the year 2013 more than 75 percent of tuition for these students.