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Fostering connections with institutions worldwide to help talented musicians complete their education at Berklee is what Berklee Global Partners (BGP) has focused on since 1993 where it was previously known as the Berklee International Network. Currently, there are 42 academic institutions from 23 countries that are part of Berklee’s partnerships and an additional 10 organizations—such as festivals and other affiliates—from five other countries. In total, the group of partners is formed by 52 partners in 28 countries. These are divided into four types of partnerships: academic, network, affiliate, and special partnerships.
“We have a well-developed and refined selection process to identify key partners; we look for institutions whose goals and missions align with ours,” says Matthew Nicholl, Berklee’s associate vice president for global initiatives. Every year, approximately 140 new students from the BGP network enroll at Berklee.
This is the journey followed by Eleftherios Papadakis M.M. ‘16, who started his education at partner school Philippos Nakas Conservatory in Athens, Greece, where he studied modern music. “While studying at Nakas, I met a lot of students from Berklee Study Abroad who told me about their lives as musicians and students in Boston. Many of my Greek classmates were thinking of continuing their studies in the U.S., so studying at Berklee was always a subject we talked about,” he says.
Papadakis carried on his studies at the Conservatory of Lausanne, Switzerland, where he obtained a B.A. in music, before successfully applying and obtaining a scholarship to continue his training at Berklee’s campus in Boston, Massachusetts, where he enrolled the diploma in performance program as a bass principal for two years. He then completed his education with the Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain.
Jennifer McMahon M.M. ‘17 joined Newpark Music Centre in Dublin, Ireland, to study for a B.A. in jazz performance. “My school had a two-year program called Berklee Track, which meant completing two years in Dublin and heading to Boston to complete the undergraduate studies there,” she explains. As time went on, McMahon started researching Berklee’s master’s degree programs, moved by her curiosity to live abroad and learn a new language. “The Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) in Valencia seemed a perfect fit for me since I also wanted to know more about recording and producing, and experience performing in larger productions,” she says.
In order to complete her application process, McMahon explains, she had to submit various requested materials, like videos and suggestions on what her culminating experience project might be, and apply for the audition online. “The process itself was quite straightforward, though it required some time,” she says.
For Ecuadorian Pablo Lalama B.M. ‘17, his path started at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito College of Music, an academic partner of Berklee in Ecuador, where he graduated with a degree in contemporary performance as a percussion principal. He then obtained a scholarship granted by the Ecuadorian government and applied to continue his education in Boston. “The application and audition processes were very interesting; since the evaluation seemed to be designed to find maturity in our musical knowledge, students have the best option to grow once accepted. It was comfortable and welcoming,” he recalls. He then went off to study for two years in Boston, where he obtained a Bachelor of Music in music business and management and a minor in psychology, and also spent one year in Valencia through Berklee Study Abroad.
Nicholl explains that these partnerships facilitate the move to Berklee as “partner programs include courses that align with transferable courses at Berklee.” The way of doing so varies. “Some students get credit by exam or advance placement at Berklee, others come after basic preparation and don’t care about transferring credit because they want to develop their foundation at Berklee, with Berklee teachers, and take a closer look at the majors as they meet those departments and students, rather than rush into a major immediately,” he says.
Papadakis shares that his experience has been really beneficial from two different perspectives. “As a BGP student, I took advantage of the scholarship I obtained after the auditions. Also, I had the possibility to transfer my credits from Nakas to Berklee, which is a great asset of this international network. These two factors helped me a lot to finish my studies in Boston.”
Once at Berklee, he highlights the “freedom of choice between so many great classes and professors, which allows the students to create a great foundation for his or her musical career.” Lalama adds that the shared standards between schools means that “you immediately apply the theory learned into the practical courses you take.”
2017 Berklee Global Summit
From October 24 to October 26, Berklee’s campus in Valencia will host the 2017 summit of Berklee’s Global Partners, welcoming members, including presidents and representatives, from major performing arts universities from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. This is the second time Berklee Valencia will be hosting this event since the campus opened in 2012. This year's event is a call to meet, identify, discuss, celebrate, and launch new strategies to take the network to the next level.
Among the scheduled activities within the summit, Berklee’s Global Partners will meet and greet with Valencian institutions, a networking event for performing arts education professionals will be held, and the Berklee Global Summit Concert, open to the general public, will take place on October 26 at Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.