Author Archives: erice

Remembering Steve Jobs and His Impact on the Berklee Community

A woman lights a candle at the Apple store on Boylston Street in memory of Steve Jobs the night of his passing.

I was in a Berklee practice room when Steve Jobs passed away. I didn’t hear the news until I returned home, but no sooner had I put down my book bag did I sling my camera purse over my shoulder en route to the Apple Store on Boylston.

Of course, as a photographer, I wanted to go over to the Apple Store as soon as possible to get pictures of what I knew would be a memorial at the largest Apple Store in North America. But I made a stop to pick up flowers first, since it was more meaningful for me to take part in the experience than document it.

Ever since our first PowerBooks in 2005, my brother and I have watched Steve Jobs’ keynotes with rapt attention. Every Mac World, Mac Developer Conference, or individual product announcement was treated like a holiday in my house, our excitement akin to child’s impatience to open presents on Christmas morning. What “beautiful” or “stunning” design will Steve unveil this time? What are the latest, crazy numbers for iTunes and the iPod? Will it be a product that everyone has been talking about or a complete surprise that Apple has been able to keep secret? And most importantly, will there be “One More Thing?”

All the times my brother and I spent watching Steve Jobs’ keynotes, analyzing his replies to customer emails, and reading his interviews made the Apple founder feel like a larger-than-life personality, but also someone we could relate to. Someone close. And after seeing the incredible out-pouring of love at the Boylston Apple Store, and at Apple Stores around the country, I’m guessing my brother and I aren’t the only ones who felt a deep connection to Steve Jobs.

But like many Berklee students, I also feel a strong connection to Steve Jobs and the Apple brand because of all the Apple hardware and software that facilitates my creativity. Had it not been for the inclusion of Garageband in the iLife suite on every Apple computer, my parents would have bought me a much cheaper computer for my first laptop in 2005. But instead, my parents realized that buying a PowerBook was more than a computer – it was an investment in my musical development. And that’s why hundreds of people laid flowers, candles, apples, and personal letters at the front of a retail store for a company’s founder – Steve Jobs succeeded in making Apple more than just another soul-less technology brand, but a personal one. And without Apple products, Berklee students would be without the greatest tool in our creative arsenal. 

The memorial for Steve Jobs outside the Boylston Apple Store on Sunday, October 9, 2011

And that’s why it’s no surprise that Berklee College of Music and Apple are intrinsically connected. The cornucopia of apple products one could see at Berklee, from the mandatory MacBook Pros for all students, to the high prevalence of iPhones and iPods (and even the rare iPad), is just a small piece of Apple’s presence on campus. Looking deeper, even the core of Berklee’s curriculum involves training on a whole host of Apple software, including Garageband and Logic Pro.

But I think Berklee has an even stronger connection to Apple than simply the products that Steve Jobs engineered, but the ethos of Steve Jobs himself.

In Steve Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, which gained a new-found popularity shortly after his death, he encourages students to “Stay hungry, stay foolish,” advice which could not be more applicable to the students at Berklee.

Berklee has a storied history of successful drop-outs (John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge, Gavin DeGraw, Quincy Jones, etc.) who, like Steve Jobs, had a passion that school couldn’t contain, and a bold trajectory to follow even their loftiest of dreams. And our school continues to have a high concentration of students with huge aspirations and strong entrepreneurial spirit because Berklee fosters an environment where every seemingly “foolish” goal or passion is attainable and should be not merely followed, but attacked with full zeal.

“We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better… Those people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who actually do.”

A mourner leaves an homage befitting of the Apple founder among the flowers and candles the night of Steve Jobs' passing.

Steve Jobs’ legacy is an inspiration – a beacon of hope – to all who are considered naïve or delusional for their passions, because rarely do you find someone who follows his passions, believes he can literally change the world, and actually does. We won’t see another leader, innovator, or passionate spirit like Steve Jobs again in our lifetime – may he rest in peace.

- Elisa Rice

*All photographs taken by the author

Photo Blog: Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, and Damian Kulash Perform as 8in8

Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds, Damien Kulash, and Neil Gaiman (not pictured) joining forces to create 8in8

8in8 member Amanda Palmer recently returned to Berklee to give a clinic to students attending the Summer 5-Week program. Watch what Amanda had to say about touring, songwriting, and a whole host of other topics on Berklee’s ustream channel!

The concept: what if several internet celebrity musicians, who have carved a niche in the industry for an unprecedented level of fan interaction using social media, were to record an album — 8 songs in 8 hours — based on fan suggestions from twitter using the hashtag #8in8, stream the whole recording process live, and sell their work immediately on the web to demonstrate the independence musicians now have from record labels with the advances in technology? And what if those internet-celebrity musicians were, say, Damian Kulash, the front-man of the band OK Go made famous for making one of the cheapest, most enthralling, and most famous music videos ever using only treadmills? And what if this concept included Ben Folds, no stranger to making a record in a day after writing and recording  six spoof songs in a single day based on the leaked track-listing for his own album Way To Normal? And what if, finally, this project included the dynamic couple of Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman, the former a Boston-native and member of the acclaimed punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls, and the latter a British novelist and recipient of both the Newbery and Carnegie Medal? Well…. then you would have 8in8.

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5 Questions with Captain America composer Alan Silvestri

Earlier this year, I got a chance to interview Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated composer Alan Silvestri at one of the rehearsals for his concert with the Video Game Orchestra at Symphony Hall, where he conducted his suites for Forest Gump and Back to the Future.

The sold-out performance also included appearances by other accomplished film and television composers, many of whom are from the Berklee fold, including Gold Knight winner and almnus, Lucas Vidal, and Emmy-winner, and Chair of Berklee’s Film Scoring department, Daniel Carlin.

Berklee alumnus and Golden Knight winner Lucas Vidal rehearsing with the Video Game Orchestra

Film Scoring Chair Daniel Carlin conducting the Video Game Orchestra

Founded by Berklee alumnus Shota Nakama in 2008, the Video Game Orchestra is the first and only New England based orchestra that focuses on showcasing interactive media compositions and is comprised of graduates from Boston-area conservatories, including Berklee College of Music. The breadth of music represented at the concert was not simply confined to artists with Berklee ties, however, as the second half of the concert highlighted the best in video game music, including Wataru Hokoyama’s suite from Afrika (who flew into Boston to conduct his suite live at the concert),  Yasunori Mitsuda’s suite from Chrono Cross, and Nobuo Uematsu’s infamous suite for Final Fantasy VII. Given the huge turn-out and incredibly enthusiastic response from the audience, I sincerely hope producing a concert that celebrates the work of film and video game composers becomes an annual event [to see more photographs from the rehearsal, scroll to the bottom of this post].

The Video Game Orchestra's musical director, Yohei Sato, rehearsing with the orchestra in anticipation of their Symphony Hall debut.

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Pop/Rock Live! Featuring Charlie Worsham 2011

I know what you’re thinking. A flutist at a Pop/Rock show? Well, that’s because this was no ordinary pop/rock show, in that, most of the performers weren’t pop/rock at all.

Robert Reid Gillies performing with the Pop/Rock Live! Band

Not that I’m complaining, because the performers did share something in common – their undeniable talent as singer-songwriters studying at Berklee.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a concert at Berklee that represented so many styles from funk, to Japanese folk, to country, and sometimes, even, pop and rock. Continue reading

John Mayer 2011 Clinic – “Manage the Temptation to Publish Yourself”

You know a celebrity is coming to the Berklee Performance Center when a campus announcement informs students they will NOT be allowed to queue up at the BPC doors until 2 hours before an 11 o’clock event (you also know it’s a celebrity when students would choose to wake up before 9, but I digress).

And indeed, Berklee was visited by celebrity and Grammy Award-winning alum, John Mayer. Similar to his 2008 clinic, John Mayer demonstrated his candor about the pitfalls of the music industry, his sarcastic humor, and, of course, his skill as a guitarist and songwriter. Most impressive, though, was the amount of time and energy Mayer gave to the Berklee student body, spending almost 3 hours imparting wisdom, performing several songs, including some new songs from his upcoming album, and staying afterward to sign autographs and pose for pictures. But John Mayer was perhaps most enthusiastic about encouraging students to avoid letting promotion, particularly of the social media variety, interfere with their artistry. Continue reading