Student Profile: Emir Cerman

A film scoring major helps Berklee set up an audition site in his home country of Turkey.
April 8, 2009

Before coming to Berklee, Turkish film scorer Emir Cerman created a five-minute video about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, with Cerman's original score over historical footage. The video had 10,000 views on YouTube in the first two months of its life, and last August, in advance of the 85th anniversary of the republic's founding, Cerman's video was picked up by CNN Turk, Kanalturk, and MTV Turkey, reaching almost 4 million people.

Emir Cerman's "Rhythm of the Universe"

Now at Berklee, Cerman is working to connect the college to the country that he loves. He also focuses his frenetic energy on composing film scores, performing in concerts, working in the Learning Center, and helping create a student networking database—making music and connections.

How did you decide to go to Berklee?

Berklee was always the best musical school in the world. I call it Hogwarts. Anybody who doesn't know about Berklee missed something. The Mass. Ave. clock—you know that picture in the Prospectus?—I took out that picture and put it on my wall. For three years I looked at that picture every morning. I wrote a note on it: Emir's coming. I already felt that I was walking on the street. This was my dream.

When I came here last January, I stood in that same spot, and I started to cry. I was looking at that picture three years ago, and now I'm living in that picture. I was shocked. I was dizzy. I came to Hogwart's finally. Let's do some magic.

Where did you audition?

I just picked a country, because Berklee didn't come to Turkey. I chose Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I love to travel. I went to ICOM, International College of Music, for the audition, and I met amazing people. Everybody helped me—my English was so bad. Anyway, I was there, I was waiting, and I was shaking, thinking, "Oh, my God, what's going to happen? I can't do this." So Gojko Damjanic [the assistant director of admissions] said, "Hey, how are you man? Where you from?" I said, "Turkey." He was like, "Oh, any Malaysians not here? He came from Turkey." That was a spot. Now he knows me.

Is there an audition site in Turkey now?

Not yet. In Turkey there are almost 10 million musicians. And 30 million young people, the biggest population in Europe between 15 and 25 years old. This is a big deal. You can imagine at any concert event how many young people are going.

I presented a proposal to [director of educational operations, international programs] Jason Camelio and they are really interested. Berklee hopes to hold an event in Istanbul in 2010 as part of the European Union's Capitals of Culture program. Starting a new bridge between here and there. Berklee plans to make an announcement about this during the summer.

Do you feel at home at Berklee?

This school has a balance. You can find 40-year-olds, 18-year-olds, it totally doesn't matter. It's a big mix. Big friendships. Big experience. Life experience, not just school experience. The networking experience. Now you have a home in the world. You can go to Japan, you can go anywhere, because when you go somewhere, you have a friend there.

How did you improve your English?

I really started to speak English last January, when I came to Berklee. I'm still not happy, because I'm kind of a business person, a predictor, and I need to sell everything. Usually I'm doing everything with my mouth and my speech. So that's sometimes really painful.

I watch movies. I gathered everything from that. I was surviving. I was just explaining myself, doing this, doing that, and then starting to grow. Of course, I took [ESL classes], but honestly, the English class, I was just trying to pass it. Real life was my teacher. Reading a book, that's helpful, and listening to music.


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