Elena Bonomo (`14), drum set and professional performance major
Berklee International Network visit to Kuala Lumpur’s International College of Music (ICOM)
Having the chance to perform in Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life! At the start of our journey, Annie (Grunwald) and I had no idea what to expect. Neither of us had ever traveled so far from home before! As soon as we were introduced to the students from International College Music (ICOM), we knew that this trip was going to be special.
Our first days were spent rehearsing with the girls for the Tribute to Classic Rock Concert. Annie and I were part of the “Women In Rock” portion of the show (the other two sets were tributes to American Rock and British Rock). The rehearsal process was one of the most intense that I’ve ever experienced. We ran through our set, performed numerous sound checks, learned the stage blocking, got fitted for costumes, ran dress rehearsals, and received notes from the directors and producers of the show. The attention to detail (from the monitor levels, to the video angles and lighting cues, to the stage blocking, to the sound in the house) was at a level that I never experienced before. Everyone who was responsible for producing the show really did an amazing job ensuring that every single aspect of the show was perfect.
I had such a fun time performing in the two concerts! The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center (KLPAC) was such a beautiful venue in which to perform. What really amazed me was the fact that everyone who performed in the show also doubled as a guitar tech, drum tech, etc. And many of them played multiple instruments during the show! It was hard to tell which one was their principle instrument, since they were all equally amazing on everything that they played. Many of the students also ran sound and lighting, which can be such a hard task, given that there were three different sets with multiple instrument changes. It was really an honor to share the stage with such talented musicians! We really appreciate that the students from ICOM let us be part of a show that was so special to them. They had been working on this show for 3 months before we got there.
Along with performing in the two tribute concerts, we also had some time to explore the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur. We visited the Batu Caves (and became best friends with the monkeys), shopped at Central Market, visited some malls, and ate a tasty banana leaf dinner in Bangsar Village. The girls had been telling us about how we just HAD to try banana leaf since the first day we got there — and wow, it was so worth it! It’s basically a ton of spicy chicken, lamb, fish, rice and vegetables that are served family style, on top of a banana leaf! And you’re supposed to eat it with your hands. It was definitely messy, but so worth it!
Traveling to Malaysia was one of the best experiences of my life, and I will remember it forever. In just a week, we made such close friends and it was hard to say goodbye. Even though we were halfway across the world, everyone that we met made us feel right at home. We were so humbled by the friendliness, generosity, and genuine kindness of everyone we met at ICOM. I look forward to working with all of these talented people someday in the future, and also seeing some of them at Berklee next year! I hope that someday we will get a chance to repay them for all that they did for us. Many thanks to ICOM president Miss Irene (Savari), ICOM vice president Dato’ Ravi (Savari), professor of music technology Mr. Nilesh (Thomas), Roger Brown, Tod Oliviere and the Scholarship Office, Jason Camelio, and everyone who made this trip possible! I am truly honored to have been part of such an amazing journey.”