Neda Shahram, a student at Berklee’s Valencia campus enrolled in the Global Entertainment Music Business (GEMB) master’s program, shares her experience in initiating a new workshop series at the campus’ library.
For the past two semesters of my graduate career at Berklee Valencia as a GEMB master’s student, I became three times more proud to be surrounded by the next generation of musicians. The three-force pride derives from three different instances, whereby my inspiration stemmed to start conversing musically, Mediterranean-style. All of the instances took place inside the incubator that is Berklee Valencia where—yes—I eavesdropped on passerbys in the hallway, students in class and listened to many concerts and rehearsals.
At first, I thought I was “back to the future” when in the modern part of town in Valencia, inside a campus overlooking a monument that resembles a spaceship, I heard an instrument that is hundreds of years old while walking through the halls, the Ney. Quickly, I turned to see who was playing the instrument, and it was a Slovenian student in the Scoring for Film, Television and Videogame masters. I became proud. This hallway magic became a phenomenon for me as I stumbled across an Italian global studies student playing the Balaban, where impromptu jam sessions take place, where globalization is melodically manifested. So, I kept listening to the whispers.
And then I heard echoes. Heading to and fro my own courses, I heard the whispers turn into echoes when I saw Berklee fellows teach Arabic and Indian music theory. I became proud. You could literally whiff the Middle Eastern elements from the instruction and application on Western instruments and on the whiteboard. So, I kept listening to the echoes.
The echoes turned into inspiration when I felt the warmth of knowing that Berklee in Boston also emit the same echoes. Attending the concerts of the Global Jazz Institute and the Mediterranean Music Institute, I noticed the same sonorities being played by everyone from Palestinians, Jordanians, Brazilians, to young musicians from the United States. I became even more proud and that is when it dawned on me. The warmth of having global reach from one generation and country to the next is immensely powerful. I became inspired in response to the three moments that brought me pride. Thus, Mediterranean Conversations was born.
Enter two pianists: Saeed Shahram and Moira Lo Bianco. The latter a recent Berklee graduate from Italy who has presented a workshop in Boston twice on “Classical Chords” a unique masterclass that emphasizes the history of improvisation in classical composition and presents students with a new approach to compose. Moira, is known to “[tap] into the subterranean depths of an individuals musician personality and [help] it surface in the form of an improvisation” as stated by Stephany Tiernan, Chair of the Piano Department at Berklee Boston. I am proud to have a fellow alum now share her journey and experience with Berklee Valencia. The former, an international award-winning film composer from Iran with over 25 years of experience in the movie industry will speak to the theory of Persian music to enhance the musical synergy between departments and countries. I am proud to have an accomplished artist expose this historic music. These conversations will be presented as a series of workshops taking place over the course of two weeks, two days per week at Berklee Valencia. Join the conversation, or listen to the recordings that will bring the dialogue to fruition afterwards. Visit this page in April and the music will whisper to you, echo in your mind and hopefully inspire and make you just as proud to be a part of the Berklee family.