I just have to say that while I’m very happy that Berklee has finally decided to embrace flamenco, it’s a little bittersweet for me. Last year they gave Paco De Lucía an honorary doctorate, and now they have Javier Limón (one of the hottest flamenco producers in Spain) as a visiting artists and the new Berklee Flamenco ensemble is performing at the Kennedy Center. You can read about all that here.
I say it’s bittersweet because when I was at Berklee no one knew what flamenco was or what to do with me. I loved my time at Berklee, but I got a lot of attitude from the guitar department for playing without a pick and basically for not being a jazzer. I eventually found some great teachers who embraced what I did (Dave Newsam, now of the Back Bay Trio, was particularly helpful and encouraging), and outside of the guitar department everyone was very supportive. And, of course the best part of Berklee is getting to play with amazing musicians every day.
So I find it interesting that the new Berklee Flamenco ensemble doesn’t have a guitarist in it, and it just reminds me how conservative we can all be about what we do. I don’t imagine Berklee will have a flamenco program any time soon (though now that they have a new school in Valencia, Spain, it seems more possible), and I’m trying to get over myself and just be happy that the music I love is getting some recognition from a school I also love.
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