The Journey Begins for the Class of 2013
Berklee’s 2013 graduating class came from places as far away as Colombia and Australia, and those as close as Texas and New Hampshire. In total, 1,053 students representing 60 countries will graduate from Berklee this weekend. Some of them overcame significant obstacles to make it to Berklee, battling everything from cancer to skeptical parents.
They came to take their music performance to the next level, to pursue music education, to break into music business management, to score films, to produce albums, to build a career in music therapy, to..., well, the list could go on and on. But despite the different paths that the Berklee class of 2013 has taken, the graduates are bound together by one indisputable bond: they came to pursue music and to follow their dreams. Here are just a few brief profiles of the many talented and dedicated students who are soon to become Berklee alumni.
Shilpa Anath Narayanan: Born to an Indian family in Dubai, Narayanan came to Berklee after completing a degree in media and communications at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore in India. A talented singer and a professional music major at Berklee, Narayanan aims to start a contemporary music school in India. She has been active in several ensembles while at Berklee, including the Contemporary Indian Music Ensemble, the Middle Eastern Ensemble, the Flamenco Ensemble, and the Balkan Ensemble. In doing so, Narayanan has developed a musical palette that is truly global in nature. In addition, in the wake of the recent Boston Marathon bombings, Narayanan opened her home to those who were displaced as a result of the attacks.
Alberto Azout: A Bogota, Colombia, native, Azout came to Berklee as a drummer but has emerged as an up-and-coming artist manager, producer, and entrepreneur. A music business/management major, Azout has written and produced songs in multiple genres for the Zumba Instructors Network, including a remix of “Ice Ice Baby.” The Zumba song “Crazy Love,” which he produced, has drawn more than three million views on YouTube. In addition to fulfilling A&R duties with Zumba, Azout founded the SoStereo Music Group LLC. He is currently interviewing for music industry jobs in Los Angeles and New York City, most recently at BMG Chrysalis.
Luis Miguel De La Isla Morfin and Paul Sefchovich Sissa: Contemporary writing and production major De La Isla is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who has worked as street performer in New Zealand, Asia, and Europe. He then studied dentistry, the family business, before deciding to attend Berklee to pursue a career in music. Now an in-demand composer for video games, documentaries, and commercials, he’s recording an album after graduation in Madrid with his band, Los Rumberos de Massachusetts. The band includes another graduating senior, fellow contemporary writing and production major Paul Sefchovich Sissa, who hails from Mexico City and came in first place in Berklee’s fourth annual Sound Collage Contest. Los Rumberos de Massachusetts recently opened for Colombian Grammy-winning music sensation Juanes.
Leah Dennis: A dual major in film scoring and professional music with a drama minor, Dennis came to Berklee from Toronto with a background in classical violin and musical theater. She will leave with new skills in composition, conducting, and music supervision. Coming from a classical background, Dennis has found that Berklee has freed her to develop a highly specialized and unique toolbox to launch her career in music. It remains to be seen where that career will take her, but Dennis has many options. As she notes on her Twitter profile, she has evolved as a “singer, director, composer, conductor, dreamer, [and] do-er.”
Lauren DeRose: Hailing from Amsterdam, New York, DeRose began writing songs at the age of 15. She enjoyed seven years as a successful recording artist in California, releasing her own album and appearing on the Jason Mraz single “I’m Yours” before returning to Berklee to complete her music therapy degree. DeRose has created a handbook and video for beginning music therapists who are working with geriatric populations and she is currently completing her internship at Sherrill House, a nonprofit skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Boston.
Juan Carlos Enriquez and Andres Locsey: Roommates and business partners, Enriquez and Locsey have undertaken one of the most ambitious projects attempted at Berklee in recent years. The duo, each member of which is from Guadalajara, Mexico, enlisted 75 Berklee student musicians and eight Berklee studio assistants to record three original compositions by Enriquez showcasing music for different film music genres. The massive project simulates a Hollywood film recording session, and you can hear a sample of it here. Enriquez, who is vice president of the Film Scoring Network at Berklee, will be graduating with a major in film scoring. "Juan Carlos is a guided missile. He knows exactly where he wants to go, and he works very hard to get there," says film scoring faculty member Sheldon Mirowitz. Locsey will be graduating with a major in music production and engineering.
Toni Garza: A singer from Lubbock, Texas, Garza’s family drove 10 hours to Houston for her Berklee audition after her high school choral director inspired her to become a music teacher. While at Berklee, Garza discovered a true passion for early childhood music education while serving as a student teacher at the Heath School, where she taught music to pre-kingergarten, first- to fifth-grade and fifth- to eighth-grade choral classes. She was elected president of the Berklee chapter of the National Association for Music Education and received the college's Outstanding Student Teacher Award in 2013. Toni was selected as a collegiate ambassador for the Massachusetts Music Educators Association Conference in 2012 and 2013. She plans to move to Nashville to work in an early education music program.
Nicole Olver: Vocalist Nicole Olver grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and was a longtime member of the Australian Girls Choir, earning numerous scholarships and the choir’s prestigious June Bronhill Award. After traveling around the world with the choir, Olver studied jazz voice at the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music and in 2003 participated in the inaugural season of Australian Idol, rising to the top 55. Since coming to Berklee in 2010, Olver has continued to work with songwriters and producers from all over the world and performs with several bands in the Boston area while working on a new EP. Graduating with a major in professional music, Olver will be the student speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony.
Kyle Oppenheimer: A native of Kingston, New Hampshire, Oppenheimer majored in electronic production and design while at Berklee, working on an array of film scoring and sound design projects. Oppenheimer, who plays harp, guitar, and bass, has performed in shoegaze bands Infinity Girl and Winter. When he hasn’t been performing or producing music, he was busy earning the honors for 2013 Male Athlete of the Year at Emerson College, where he displayed his impressive speed and skills as part of the cross country team. Oppenheimer plans to pursue a career in sound design and contemporary music production in New York City in the fall.
Sharin Toribio: Toribio had to fight to make it to Berklee. When she was 20, this Dominican singer-songwriter was diagnosed with stage IV non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She survived seven months of chemotherapy and clinical trials, and today she is cancer-free. Shortly after Toribio recovered, she decided to study music full-time. In 2009, she enrolled at Berklee, where she has been a voice principal and where she will graduate this week with a degree in music business/management. She has released an EP, Quiero, and continues to compose and perform her music, having worked with artists and producers such as Eddie Perez, Jean Rodriguez, Toby Love, and Obie Bermudez.