José María Cano, an instrumental figure in bringing Berklee’s Valencia campus to life, spoke to the campus’s first class of master’s graduates at the commencement ceremony on July 15, 2013.
Citing Cano’s work as a composer with artists such as Ana Belén, Miguel José, and Julio Iglesias, Berklee president Roger H. Brown introduced the speaker as an artist “who made pop music history selling more than 25 million albums with hits around the world.” His music has also been performed by Plácido Domingo, Celia Cruz, and Montserrat Caballé. It was Cano, Brown said, who first introduced him to the idea of a Berklee campus in Valencia, Spain during a conversation in Brown’s office in 2005.
Cano began by saying that he didn’t write his speech in advance, but instead would improvise it, in the spirit of extemporaneous music making that happens at Berklee every day. Among other topics, he talked about spending his youth in Valencia, about the paucity of contemporary music education in those days, and the challenges of today’s music industry.
“Artistically, contemporary music is ending a cycle and complete new ways will have to be explored. Invented,” he said. “You care about being a musician, which is probably the best thing one can be. I think this inner voice that takes you here will break all of these barriers and bring you in this new universe that we don’t yet know.”
During his speech, Cano talked about why he felt Valencia made so much sense as a Berklee campus.
“My love for music comes from Valencia. There were so many musicians here and so many bands at the time. It was the year ’76 or ’77. I started to have friends that made bands and played rock music. Since then, I have never seen in the world a place where music is more relevant. You probably know that in Valencia there are as many musicians as in the rest of the Spanish country. In every single little town, everybody would play in a band and play the flute or clarinet or something. I was absorbed by that musical surrounding and started to be a musician myself.”
Read more about José María Cano and the commencement ceremony in Billboard magazine. Video of Cano’s full address is posted with the Billboard feature story.