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Sixty students gathered from 20 countries in July to learn the ins and outs of songwriting and the industry during three days of classes, concerts, and jam sessions at the iconic Palau de Les Arts Reina Sofía.
The faculty came from Boston and comprised Ken Zambello, program director, teaching harmony; Livingston Taylor, stage performance; Sally Taylor, lyric writing and artist self-promotion; and Donna McElroy, vocal technique and vocal performance.
Both the faculty and the students were the first to discover part of Berklee’s new facilities in Valencia (the rest will be ready by the end of 2011), and they enjoyed the beautiful surroundings where the campus is located, in the heart of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias of Valencia.
On July 1, bright and early, students arrived at the Palau for registration, and the Berklee staff was able to say their first hellos to students from such countries as Spain, the United States, Colombia, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Peru, France, Canada, Russia, Greece, and Belgium among others.
After brief introductions by Guillermo Cisneros, vice president for global initiatives/Berklee in Valencia executive director and Jason Camelio, director of international programs, Zambello addressed the students about the program content and the entire faculty introduced themselves.
The first day ended with a clinic by Berklee in Valencia's first visiting artist, very well-known Spanish singer Sole Giménez, followed by a faculty concert featuring Giménez that was held at the Aula Magistral of the Palau.
On July 2, after an intense day of classes and improvised jam sessions during breaks, the students took the stage at the open mic session that was held at the Aula Magistral to try out their new work. Students who didn´t get the chance to perform their songs on stage then were able to do it on July 3 during the last master class of the program where they received feedback from the faculty.
The students gave rave reviews. Carmen Boza, a Spanish student and winner of a Sonicbids contest, got a full scholarship to the program. “I had the opportunity to meet these great musicians," she said. "The teachers were great—they know what they’re talking about—and I learned a lot, actually, about songwriting and about the music industry.”
Juan Carlos Mantilla, from Colombia told us: “It’s been a very interesting experience. We’ve exchanged a lot, not only with the teachers, but with my peers, writing and singing songs. . . I really liked the opportunity to show a bambuco, a rhythm from the Colombian Andes, to people from so many different countries, and watching them pay attention to this rhythm made me smile.” He was glad that Berklee has chosen to open a campus in Valencia because, he said, “it’s a door to the Spanish-speaking world.” And beyond.