Boston Rocks 2013

Berklee students and corporate executives collaborate on a concert that raised more than $288,000 for Berklee's City Music program.

May 31, 2013

In the few days between the Boston Marathon bombing and the already-scheduled Boston Rocks concert on April 20, event organizers debated postponing the show, but ultimately didn't, deciding that it would provide an opportunity to help return to normality after a very difficult week in Boston.

Good thing. Not only did it provide more than 550 people with an entertaining night of music, but the new Berklee concert series drew approximately $100,000 in in-kind donations and has so far raised more than $288,000 in cash donations—largely from new donors—for Berklee’s City Music program. The program offers Boston children from underserved communities in grades 4-12 an opportunity to engage in tuition-free music education, summer music programs, and college readiness programs. The goal is not simply to train participants as musicians and performers, but to equip them with the confidence that they will need to better their communities and world.

Exceptional students in the program receive scholarships to attend Berklee after graduating from high school. The Boston-based program, which has proven its merit over the course of more than 20 years, is now connected to like-minded programs throughout the U.S. through the Berklee City Music Network. The network’s membership consortium includes programs in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Washington, D.C., and dozens of other cities.
"This is an important time to come together in creative ways to strengthen support for music education,” said Berklee President Roger Brown. “Boston Rocks will make a tremendous difference in the lives of young people.”

Held at the Royale in Boston's theater district, the Boston Rocks concert featured a heavy dose of rock covers from Steve Oristaglio and the Berklee Full Circle Band, which, as its name implies, includes Berklee alumni, students, and staff. Oristaglio is president and co-chief investment officer of SCS Financial and a member of Berklee’s Presidential Advisory Council. While many of Oristaglio’s colleagues and peers in attendance knew of his investment skills, fewer were aware of his rock ‘n’ roll chops prior to the event. That all changed when he took the stage with the Full Circle band, which also includes recent Berklee graduate Samantha Schultz and David Stewart, who was the first recipient of the Berklee Lollapalooza Endowed Scholarship.

The video below offers a glimpse of the band’s Boston Rocks performance:

"I've been so fortunate to have Berklee give me the opportunity in my spare time to play live music with these very talented students. What has been a wonderful surprise is how much this has resonated with my work colleagues and friends," said Oristaglio. "This year greatly exceeded our expectations. I can't help but think it had the secret sauce—a cause that benefits underserved children; multiple communities and generations coming together as one; and, of course, great music."

In addition to SCS Financial, Boston Rocks was sponsored by more than 150 sponsors and VIP donors, including Loomis Sayles, Slaight Music, Webster Capital, F-Squared Investments, First Republic Bank, GRT Capital Partners, Skadden, Five Ten Capital, and Boston Private Bank and Trust Company, to name a few. The concert was followed by an after-party at Boston’s W Hotel that provided more time for members of the Berklee community to mingle with some very interesting and influential individuals, says Berklee senior advancement officer Mirek Vana.

“Berklee students and alumni who were there had an opportunity to expand their network among the movers and shakers of the financial industry,” says Vana, who served as the executive producer of Boston Rocks.

As for the executives in attendance, Vana says the evening proved to be a welcome break from the formal gala circuit: “This was an opportunity for them to come in jeans, to not worry about speeches and auction items, and to have a good time with friends and some music that is close to them. Given the right format and venue, they proved to be an awesome audience and had lots of fun while doing something really important: helping us change kids’ lives through music.”

A Blu-ray disc of the Boston Rocks concert is currently in the works, featuring video and some audio mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Alex Venguer ’02. Vana says that, in the wake of generous financial support and a deluge of hundreds of positive emails and text messages the day after the concert, Boston Rocks, which is part of Berklee's Executive Sessions series, will return next year.

Learn more on the Boston Rocks websiteon Facebook, or by emailing Mirek Vana.