Berklee Global Jazz Institute Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary at the Panama Jazz Festival

Artistic director Danilo Pérez will be named cultural ambassador to the Republic of Panama.

December 23, 2014

The Berklee Global Jazz Institute (BGJI) is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2015. Kicking off the year, the group plays a featured role in the Panama Jazz Festival, January 12-17, 2015 in Panama City, Panama. Grammy Award-winning pianist, composer, and humanitarian Danilo Pérez, who founded the festival, serves as the artistic director for the performance program designed to foster creativity and musicianship through various musical disciplines.

At the Panama Jazz Festival, the group will perform for the public in addition to conducting master classes and clinics with students from the Danilo Pérez Foundation. For the second year, students from Panama can earn Berklee credit for attending a one-week educational program held during the festival. Adding more excitement to the celebrations, Pérez will be named cultural ambassador to the Republic of Panama to honor his significant work in the republic and his strong connection to Panamanian arts and culture. On January 14, during the festival’s gala, president Juan Carlos Varela will present Pérez with his diplomatic passport.

“I feel honored and responsible to be named the cultural ambassador of Panama,” said Pérez. “For many years I have been highly motivated to use music as a tool to better global relationships and cultural diplomacy.”

In the last five years, the BGJI has grown from 7 to 40 students.  A host of renowned artists has served as artists in residence with the group, including Adam Cruz, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ben Street, John Patitucci, Dave Liebman , Roman Díaz, Brian Blade, and Joe Lovano. With a focus on community service and engagement, the group has traveled to a number of countries including Gabon, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, and Chile, in addition to Panama.

In 2015, the BGJI will play an integral role in the college’s first graduate programs. In September, the college’s first Boston-based graduate programs begin. The Master of Music in Contemporary Performance offers advanced studies to instrumentalists and vocalists who demonstrate excellent musical proficiency and desire to develop their performance career. Students in this concentration will study in the BGJI and deepen their understanding of harmonic and stylistic practices associated with contemporary jazz performance through a wide array of performance projects. Through the study of music business and production, students will also develop strategies for producing and marketing their performance projects.

During the Panama Jazz Festival, Berklee will host auditions and interviews for admission to the college as well as summer programs for grade-school students. Between sets during the final day of the festival, Berklee will announce the names of summer program scholarship winners.