Mediterranean Music Institute Launches

The Berklee Mediterranean Ensemble celebrated the opening of the institute with a free concert at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia.
May 25, 2011

Berklee College of Music has begun its first academic activity in Valencia with a free concert performed by the Berklee Mediterranean Ensemble at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia. The concert celebrated the launch of the Mediterranean Music Institute, a center that aims to contribute to the cultural exchange, research, and teaching of these musical traditions. The institute will also contribute to the international promotion and support of young talents to help them in their careers.

The opening of the Mediterranean Music Institute is the first activity of Berklee's international campus in Valencia. In addition to the institute, the Valencia campus academic offerings will include master programs, the International Career Center, and specialized courses and certificate programs, including several this summer.

According to Guillermo Cisneros, vice president of global initiatives for Berklee and executive director of Berklee Valencia, "The Mediterranean Music Institute allows Berklee to join the important musical tradition of Valencia, and it will help consolidate Valencia as the music capital of the Mediterranean region."

Said Javier Limón, artistic director of the institute, "The idea of ​​the Mediterranean as the center of gravity of cultural exchange since ancient times is something that everybody knows and recognizes. The Mediterranean Music Institute is a reflection of this idea. The institute was founded with the aspiration of merging cultures and music from a global perspective: styles, interests, talents, traditions, geographies, and origins."

The United States ambassador to Spain, who received a delegation from Berklee at the United States Embassy in Madrid, said, "The embassy is proud to support this exciting project. When different traditions collaborate with each other, better music and valuable social foundations flourish."

Mediterranean Music Institute Program

The institute will have three main activities: the Mediterranean Music New Talent Program, the Research Initiative, and the Archive and Learning Center.

It will begin its activities in September 2011. At the center of these activities will be the Mediterranean Music New Talent Program, a 12-student, fully funded scholarship program dedicated to the study of the various musical traditions of the region.

The Mediterranean Music Institute program will be two semesters long and divided into two general areas: learning and experiential. On the learning side, the music studies that institute participants will pursue include instrument, solo, and group performance; rhythm; melodic and harmonic forms; improvisation; expression; repertoire; history; and other classes drawn from the Berklee curriculum in Boston.

According to Limón, "We aim to give these students a greater understanding of the fundamental qualities of Mediterranean music. A possible outcome is the development of an original music style as a result of the merging of these various musical traditions."

Berklee vice president for academic affairs/international programs Larry Monroe said, "The intention is to create and release a recording of the students' work to demonstrate both their talent and skill to create music, and their knowledge and understanding of how to produce and present it for audiences. The overall objective is for our students to acquire a more competitive capability in the music industry, ensuring the success of their talent."


The beginning of the institute's activities is part of the program launch roadmap that Berklee presented February 26 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.

In July, Berklee Valencia will hold a specialized course in songwriting and vocal performance. This is the first piece of a comprehensive program that will include courses about performance, production, management, film music, and flamenco. In September, Berklee Valencia begins the process of admission for master's degree and specialized programs.

In January 2012 Berklee Valencia will start its international curriculum (exchange programs for students on Berklee's campus in Boston) and open the International Career Center (for students from Berklee in Valencia and Boston to help their international development). In the fall of 2012, Berklee Valencia will begin master's degree studies.

Berklee Valencia will be implementing some of the most innovative academic offerings for professional musicians in Europe. This includes master's degrees in contemporary writing and production; electronic production and design; global entertainment and music business; contemporary studio performance; scoring for film, television, and video games; and symphonic band studies.

Berklee Mediterranean Ensemble

The Berklee Mediterranean Ensemble, a five-piece student group directed by Limón, performed a concert as part of the MMI launch.

The Berklee Mediterranean Ensemble reflects the spirit of the college's campus in Valencia, Spain. Berklee Valencia will feature a curriculum paying particular focus to the diverse musical traditions of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East that converge in and around Valencia, attracting musicians from around the world to study contemporary music at a high level in the Mediterranean.

The Berklee Mediterranean Ensemble is Ali Amr (qanun and vocals), Ariadna Castellanos Rivas (piano), Sergio Martinez (percussion), Tamir Shmerling (double and electric bass), and Enrique "Kalani" Trinidad (flute).

The group will perform a vibrant program that includes original works by flamenco guitar virtuoso Paco de Lucía, Limón, and ensemble member Rivas.