A Summer of Opportunities
Scouting talents from every corner in the world and from different backgrounds is a common practice at Berklee College of Music. Auditions and interviews for prospective students are hosted on both of the college’s campuses, in Boston and Valencia, Spain, as well as at numerous locations around the world every year. In Valencia, auditions and interviews usually take place in the fall and spring, but for the first time ever, last summer they were also held for participants of the two-week Valencia Summer Performance Program from July 18 through July 29, 2016.
“Auditions and interviews are designed for students to be able to demonstrate their strengths and help us assess their talent and potential to succeed at Berklee,” says Ana Calvillo, admissions and scholarships manager, who was interviewing and assessing candidates last summer. Auditions ran from Saturday, July 23 to Sunday, July 24, and each candidate had about 15 minutes to execute a piece of their choice as well as showcase their skills at improvising by performing a reading selection. At the end of the audition, they had to enact melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ear training exercises. The interview was also about 15 minutes long, and it represented an opportunity for students to express their educational goals and why Berklee is a good fit for their career ambitions.
During the Valencia Summer Performance Program, participating students were advised to audition by faculty from both the Boston and Valencia campuses based on their skill level, ability, performance, and potential. As a result, four students were granted scholarships for the Five-Week Summer Program in Boston, nine received a grant for the undergraduate program in Boston, and one for the Master of Music in scoring for film, television, and video games in Valencia. “These scholarships will officially be awarded once the students complete the program application and admissions requirements,” Calvillo clarifies.
The Time to Shine
Ana Krstajic, a 22-year-old student from Belgrade, Serbia, earned a scholarship to join the graduate program for scoring for film, television, and video games in Valencia. “Since a young age, I was very fond of soundtracks, and this sparked my wish to compose different styles of music, spanning from classical and contemporary to theater and film,” she reveals. Krstajic believes the master's degree program will help her acquire higher skills in composing as the opportunity to work with orchestras and to have access to one of the best facilities in the world is “every composer’s dream.”
At the audition, she played several classical movements by different composers combined into one piece as well as a composition of her own arranged for piano. She decided to pursue this path because she hoped the jury would recognize her deep affection for music and her desire to expand her creativity in this field.
Lucas Szczyrbak, a 20-year-old student from Kerteminde, Denmark, is among the 44 students who also auditioned after joining the Valencia Summer Performance Program. “I knew Berklee had a summer program in Valencia, and I always wanted to audition so I thought, why not make a whole trip out of it?” he shares. He will pursue a bachelor’s degree thanks to a scholarship and is planning to major in performance. Szczyrbak started playing music when he was 11 years old, and although his main instrument is the electric bass, he also plays guitar, drums, cello, and piano.
For Betty González, from Madrid, Spain, the opportunity to audition last summer was an unexpected surprise. She joined the Summer Performance Program in Valencia to find out if the “Berklee method” would match her aspirations with the plan to apply to Berklee’s undergraduate program in fall. “After being recommended by my instructors to audition in front of the Berklee team, I couldn’t say no,” she admits. After succeeding at the audition with the original ballad version of “Fly Me to the Moon,” which she sang a cappella, González was awarded a scholarship to the undergraduate program and is convinced that “Berklee will be a place where I will meet people from all over the world and get the best music education, given the institution’s reputation in the music industry.”