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A Message from our Director – March 2015

Have you heard about our newest program with a summer jazz festival in Italy?  I never thought of Italy as an important site for jazz, but it turns out I was wrong.  The Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia has been running every year since 1973, and has hosted some giants in the music scene, including B.B. King, Chet Baker, James Brown, Eric Clapton, Natalie Cole, Phil Collins, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Elton John, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Charles Mingus, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Sting, James Taylor, Prince, and many many others.

The coolest thing about this festival is that Berklee College of Music has been teaming up with the festival organizers for thirty years to offer intensive jazz clinics in many instruments.  These also include the opportunity to perform on stage at the festival.

The program we’ve designed is for music lovers and musicians alike.  Everyone gets the chance to take an Italian Culture and Language course at the Umbra Institute for a week and a half with a weekend trip to Rome in the middle, as well as attendance at the dozens of free shows and tickets to several of the mainstage shows including Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, and Herbie Hancock with Chick Corea. Qualified musicians can audition to take part in the clinics, which include full access to every show of the festival.

As if this weren’t enough, we’re also offering $500 scholarships for anyone who applies before April 15th.  I am super excited about this opportunity, and hope you or someone you know will be able to join us!

As always, I welcome you to e-mail me directly at  with any questions regarding our programs and how to get involved.  For a full list of locations where we offer programs, please see below.

Program Locations:

Costa Rica
Galapagos Islands
South Africa

Reynolds Whalen
Director of Performing Arts Abroad

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