The Mediterranean Music Institute is a new Berklee College of Music initiative and part of Berklee’s Valencia campus activities. Its mission is to study Mediterranean musical traditions, to contribute to the cultural exchange of folk-based music from the various regions of the Mediterranean, to promote them internationally, and to support young and emerging talent from the area.
The Mediterranean Music Institute is the initial activity of Berklee College of Music’s Valencia campus, and its founding is a major new undertaking for Berklee.
As the world’s leading college of contemporary music, Berklee strives to recognize new and emerging music styles that impact and influence the musical culture of our time. It is committed to developing an understanding of these styles and incorporating promptly into its curriculum courses of study that enable students to gain knowledge of the music and the culture from which it came.
For centuries, the diverse cultures of the Mediterranean have helped to shape the world’s understanding of music, a powerful influence that continues to grow in our own time. Clearly, the folk music of western Mediterranean countries like Spain and Portugal have greatly influenced the music of all of the Americas, and numerous contemporary styles have emerged under this influence.
Now, with the growth of political, economic, and cultural energy in the nations of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans, we will see a rise of the influence of music from the Eastern Mediterranean. The music from this region, with its non-Western instruments, tonal systems, and rhythmic forms brings the promise of exciting new musical fusions and opportunities for both musicians and audiences. With the various new media enabling a greater potential for the distribution of music, the music styles of the Eastern Mediterranean are likely to explode on the international music scene, and music educators must be prepared to foster an understanding of the new music in their students.
Berklee has a long tradition of dealing with folk-based music that has transformed the popular music world. Berklee was one of the first schools to research and create pedagogy in blues, jazz, rock, R&B, country, and Latin music styles. Today Berklee methods of contemporary music education are emulated all around the world both in classroom and online environments. Now we mean to apply our 60 years of experience of researching, codifying, and developing curriculum for folk-based Western music to the new challenge presented by the emergence of Eastern Mediterranean styles yet unknown to music academics.
In these first years we will bring performers, artists, teachers, scholars, and students together to research, study, and perform various styles, gaining insight and experiences that will lead to the formulation of pedagogical standards. We want to stimulate the cultural exchange of the folk-based music traditions of the various regions of the Mediterranean, to internationally promote them, and to support young and emerging talent from the area.
To do this, we need to leave our Boston campus and locate ourselves in proximity to the emerging styles in order to learn not just the music, but also the culture and history of the people who created it. Spain, with its rich cultural heritage that blends many Mediterranean influences, seems to us to be the ideal place to launch our effort. Valencia, a port city at the crossroads of Mediterranean, African, and Middle Eastern cultures, with its own rich musical tradition, provides a wonderful home for our Mediterranean Music Institute.