Students Produce Concert in Caracas in Advance of Berklee's First Venezuela Auditions
Puentes Venezuela, an initiative led by Berklee College of Music student and Caracas native Stefano Melillo, is producing a free concert in Caracas on Friday, January 8, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. The organization serves as a bridge, creating cultural connections between Berklee and Caracas’s Emil Friedman School through music. The concert at Emil Friedman Auditorium will feature performances by Venezuelan Berklee students, and also celebrates Berklee’s first-ever audition and interview (A&I) event in Venezuela, happening the following day.
The A&I in Venezuela is part of the Berklee World Tour, where the college holds events for musicians interested in studying there. The auditions and interviews will be proctored online on Saturday, January 9, 2016. All applicants will be considered for a host of scholarships that Berklee awards annually. For more information, or to apply, visit apply.berklee.edu.
Melillo has worked for three years with Javier Parra, Berklee's assistant director of admissions, and professor Pablo Arguello, director of Emil Friedman School, to bring Berklee’s auditions to Venezuela. “I want to keep building this initiative for years to come. I have had a wonderful experience at Berklee and I know that other talented, passionate, and dedicated Venezuelan musicians can experience it, too,” said Melillo. “I feel proud that through my project, we are generating opportunities for Venezuelan musicians.”
A team of Venezuelan Berklee students is producing and performing in the concert, the third annual Puentes Venezuela event hosted at Emil Friedman School. The repertoire focuses on Venezuelan music arranged by the band members, showcasing their skills as writers as well as performers. The band features Berklee students—bassist Ali Tovar; guitarists Alejandro Sanchez and Rodrigo Gamboa; pianist Josu Ortiz; percussionist Alexis Soto; drummer Marco Echeverria; and vocalists Luisa Torrealba and Valeria Anez—as well as local musicians: pianist and cuatro player Leonardo Melillo, and percussionist Adrián Maestre.
Stefano Melillo, a violinist, music business/management and contemporary writing and production major, co-founded Puentes Venezuela with fellow Berklee student Sergio Maestre. Melillo is also president of the Venezuelan Culture Association at Berklee. Prior to Berklee—where he studies with support from the Central Bank of Venezuela—he attended El Sistema, Emil Friedman School, and Mozarteum de Caracas on scholarships.
Musicians come to Berklee from every corner of the world, making the college uniquely international. More than 30 percent of the college’s students come from outside the United States, representing more than 100 countries, and Berklee has strong ties to South America with Berklee International Network (BIN) partner schools in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador. The A&I event in Venezuela is part of a larger effort to increase the number of students from underrepresented areas of the world and to foster a significant cultural exchange.
Berklee’s unique audition and interview process is designed to uncover applicants' musical strengths and academic goals while helping to assess their aptitude and ability to succeed in the college's dynamic environment. Each year, Berklee’s World Tour visits more than 50 cities in search of talented instrumentalists and vocalists—an effort that is supported with over $40 million in scholarship funds available to prospective and continuing students.
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