Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Berklee launches American Roots Music Program

December 07, 2009

Fiddler Mark O'Connor (right) takes the stage at Berklee College of Music on Thursday night to kick off a new American Roots Music Program intended to help students connect contemporary styles in jazz and rock - Berklee's bread and butter - to their musical heritage. Blues, gospel, folk, country, bluegrass, Cajun, Western swing, polka, Tex-Mex and other genres will become a larger part of the school's educational mission. Roots music will be an academic concentration. Berklee Professor Matt Glaser - a fiddler who will share the stage with O'Connor Thursday night - has stepped down as chair of the school's string department to head up the new program. His plans include everything from new curriculum to symposia and concerts. The advisory board for the program includes famous names Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, Leo Kottke, Charlie Haden, David Grisman, Geoff Muldaur and Micheal Doucet.
Glaser spoke to HubArts about it all on Friday. A lightly edited transcript:
HubArts: Why do we need a new program for this at Berklee?
Glaser: We don't need a new program, but what's happening is the college is trying to address a huge influx of kids coming in from all these folk-based worlds: bluegrass and old-time music acoustic blues, western swing. They're growing up playing all these kinds of music by ear, and they have their particular set of skills and also particular deficits, and we're trying to address that. It also makes sense to connect these kinds of music across the college and give them a sort of home. ... This concert with Mark O'Connor on Thursday is an attempt to kick it off and demonstrate some of the styles of music that are involved.

Complete story.

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