Berklee Concert Raises Money to Bridge Opportunity Gaps
More than 100 musicians from various music genres pooled their talents to raise money for the Berklee City Music Outreach Program at the 12th Annual Encore Gala at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel on Saturday, an exclusive event with tickets costing $4,000 to $10,000 for a table of 10.
The more than 850 guests watched as 10 high school students and City Music graduates received full four-year tuition scholarships to attend Berklee College of Music next fall.
Berklee City Music, a mentoring program for youths, provides free music education for inner-city adolescents with the goal of minimizing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students and between wealthier students and their less advantaged peers.
“It gives a great opportunity to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go to Berklee,” said Ryan Flemming, assistant to the vice president of Berklee’s Institutional Advancement. “It’s also great because it’s now helping to spread the program nationwide.”
Graduates and trustees from Berklee showed their support for the program and their dedication to the school and its mission — some even traveling from Spain and Puerto Rico.
“It’s a great opportunity for like-minded people to get together,” said Berklee spokeswoman Mitzi Dorbu.
When asked what type of music he looked forward to hearing most, attendee Greg Dunning said, “All of it.”
Performers included Berklee faculty and students, Berklee Music Program student musicians and special guests including rock legend Al Kooper.
Arooj Aftab, a young singer from Lahore, Pakistan was the only Pakistani female to ever perform at the Gala. She is currently a sophomore at Berklee on a scholarship.
Students praised the gala as a unique opportunity for students and performers alike.
“It’s great,” said Boston Arts high school senior Herbert Maisonet. “It’s fun for me because I get to incorporate what I love.”
Matt Lovett, also a student at Boston Arts high school explained his appreciation for the program, adding that the event demonstrated the students’ passion for music.
“It’s diversifying my angle,” Lovett said. “It also gives me the opportunity to play with musicians of such a high caliber.”
The event also included silent and live auctions with items including tickets to the Grammy Awards, all-expense paid vacations to five-star hotels and access to the facilities at an L.A. recording studio for a day.