Back in August, a press tour and conference was arranged in Mexico City to announce Berklee Canta en Español concert and TV taping. Interviews were had with the EFE national wire service, on the hugely popular television program Shanik en Teleformula, and on the Eddy Warman’s cultural radio talk show, Radio Acir.
A press conference at the Presidente InterContinental Hotel attracted more than 30 reporters. Tom Riley, Berklee’s vice president for external affairs, got it started with a video introduction to Berklee, which was also a lesson for those who thought we were in California, and a briefing of our educational and musical connections to Mexico. He said demand for a Berklee education from Mexican students was so strong, that the admissions department would hold auditions for five days in Mexico City in February, 2010, a stretch unmatched in any other international location.
Jose Enrique Fernandez, director of SGAE’s Arteria Mexico complex spoke next, saying he was excited to partner with Berklee in Mexico and also in Spain (where together they building a new campus called Berklee Valencia), and that Canta will be a good start for a deeper relationship between Berklee and Mexico. The February auditions will be held at Arteria Mexico, an impressive site where parties and concerts are held on a roof deck overlooking its urban neighborhood.
Javier Samayoa told the group that it was one year ago when he hatched the idea for a TV show to promote talent from Berkee while working with members of the Latin American Music and Business Club on various projects that included visits to the Latin Grammy Awards. The project largely rests on Samayoa’s shoulders; as the concert’s executive director he’s the middle man between every person involved in the big show. After the conference, he confided that he needed to find an assistant, but he’s too busy to peruse one.
Berklee alum and Canta performer Mane de la Parra is known professionally as Manelick. He is a singer, songwriter, and recent soap opera star. Everyone knows him. His good looks and friendly manner make him a media fave, and cameras flashed rapid fire as he spoke. He said that he developed all of his musical knowledge at Berklee, and that he’d like to see more Mexicans attending to so that they, too, could learn how to share their music with rest of the world.
One of the reporters asked him what were the characteristics he liked most about Berklee? He said, “The community of teachers and students made the music more creative, and the teachers always encouraged us to try new things.” He said this made his music more free.
There was another alum in the room, not as famous as Manelick, but just as busy. Sebastian Otero, who has a degree in MP&E and Composition, is a producer and acoustic engineer. He is also the chair of the MP&E department at Mexico City’s Academia de Musica Fermatta. He feels that most musicians in Mexico City know about Berklee and would feel special if admitted to the college, but that study abroad is seen as a privilege in the Mexican economy. As a student, Otero started the Latin Culture club at Berklee, and organized the first Latin Culture Week, an annual celebration that now extends to the entire month of November.
To him, Samayoa represents a growing Berklee. “Seeing Javier up there makes me feel that Berklee is on a different scale,” said Otero. “Our projects always focused on the campus. Now, student projects have an international impact. “