Berklee Global Jazz and Music Therapy Students to Travel to Panama for Education, Community Outreach, Performances

Liz Lupton
August 18, 2014
Press release
Top row: Anthony Fung, Seungho Jang, Jerry Leake, Ga Young Bae. Bottom: Mao Sone and Marco Pignataro.
Brian Gonzalez

Danilo Pérez, president of the Danilo Pérez Foundation, which provides education and outreach programs to children of extreme poverty in Panama, and artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI), with Patricia Zarate, executive director of Panama Jazz Productions and founder of the Latin American Music Therapy Symposium, are bringing students from Berklee to Panama City, Panama to share music with local youth. Through a series of master classes, workshops, and performances curated by Pérez and Zarate, Berklee’s top jazz performance students and music therapy student practitioners, representing two distinct areas of the music industry, will use their unique skills to harness music as a tool for positive social change in the local community.

“Since my father began researching academic improvement among youth by incorporating music into their curricula in the 1960s, we have learned that the power of music reaches beyond the entertainment industry,” says Pérez. “Through performance, cultural exchange, music therapy, and more, music has the potential to make positive changes in people, their communities, and ultimately in the world.”

“Bringing students from Berklee to share music therapy as well as perform will be as meaningful for them as it will be for the local community,” says Patricia Zarate. “Two years ago, we incorporated the Latin American Music Therapy Symposium into the Panama Jazz Festival, underscoring the important connection between the performer, the music therapist, and the music lover in all of us. Music therapy in Panama is growing thanks to the support of Berklee’s music therapy department and its faculty and students’ commitment to expanding music therapy on a global level.”

While in Panama, students from the BGJI, a music institute focused on connecting performance with social responsibility though cultural exchanges and community outreach across the globe, will conduct clinics and master classes at the Danilo Pérez Foundation. Joined by special guest artists saxophonist Marco Pignataro and percussionist Jerry Leake, both faculty members with the BGJI, the BGJI students will also take part in the third Central American Percussion Festival at the City of Knowledge, produced by the Danilo Perez Foundation and Panama Jazz Productions, which also produces the annual Panama Jazz Festival and the annual Latin American Music Therapy Symposium.

The BGJI students, along with Pignataro and Leake, will spend their evenings performing creative music at Danilo’s Jazz Club, which provides regular opportunities for students from the Danilo Pérez Foundation to gain work experience and artistic expression. Performing two sets each evening from August 27-31, the BGJI performances kick off a concert series of collaborations between international artists and local talent. Located at the American Trade Hotel in the Casco Antiguo, the performances begin at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and are open to the public. This club provides regular work to the foundation students and a place to exercise creativity on a regular basis. 

Simultaneously, music therapy students from Berklee will lead music therapy sessions with youth from the Danilo Pérez Foundation, including the foundation’s groups for at-risk children, youth with autism, and youth with Down Syndrome, as well as patients at the Children’s Hospital of Panama and the Foundation for Children with Cancer. The visiting music therapy students will also conduct training sessions for local teachers and healthcare professionals at the University of the Americas (UDELAS) on August 25. Open to the public, the workshop at UDELAS will focus on the rudimentary principles of music therapy and how it can be applied to different populations from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission to the workshop is $20 ($10 for students with identification), and all proceeds will benefit music therapy programs at the Danilo Pérez Foundation. 

Liz Lupton is a publicist in the Office of Media Relations. Media inquiries: