Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

New music school Berklee Abu Dhabi to offer 'turntablism' and dance courses

Boston's world-renowned Berklee College of Music's new campus will open next month and offer a host of subjects

Sara Al Hashimi, a pupil of Kings' School Al Barsha, sings in a music session in Dubai in July 2019 before taking up her scholarship at Berklee in Boston. Aspiring music students can now apply to attend Berklee's new campus on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island, which opens next month. Pawan Singh / The National
Sara Al Hashimi, a pupil of Kings' School Al Barsha, sings in a music session in Dubai in July 2019 before taking up her scholarship at Berklee in Boston. Aspiring music students can now apply to attend Berklee's new campus on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island, which opens next month. Pawan Singh / The National

A world-renowned American music and performing arts college will open in Abu Dhabi next month in a bid to cultivate local talent.

An agreement to open a Berklee College of Music on Saadiyat Island – to be named Berklee Abu Dhabi – was signed by the college and Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Berklee Abu Dhabi will be established in the UAE Pavilion building on the island and deliver workshops, masterclasses, courses, ensembles and labs, and present a number of annual performances.

We are incredibly proud that we can now offer the highest calibre of music and performing arts instruction to the Abu Dhabi community

Mohamed Al Mubarak, Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi

With the agreement came the announcement of a $5 million (Dh18.4m) fellowship fund, which will offer scholarships for students to pursue degrees in Boston, New York, Valencia or on Berklee Online, attend a summer programme in Boston or Valencia or attend a programme in Abu Dhabi.

The facility spans 4,274 sq m and includes a performance space, recording studio, rehearsal studios, practice rooms, ensemble rooms, a tech lab and office space.

Berklee Abu Dhabi will launch next month, with its first semester running until May.

Programmes offered at the centre aim to serve local and regional students of all ages.

The first semester will include sessions on subjects titled DJing, Turntablism, Songwriting, Music Production, Dance, Contemporary String Techniques, Music Business, Recording and Mixing, the Music of the Middle East, and Creative Entrepreneurship.

Grammy-nominated, singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa will serve as artistic director. Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images for Dubai International Film Festival
Grammy-nominated, singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa will serve as artistic director. Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

Students will receive instruction from the likes of Emmy-winning composer Stephen Webber, acclaimed Palestinian multi-style cellist/composer Naseem Alatrash and Rich Jacques, a Los Angeles-based artist, Grammy-winning producer and composer.

“We are firm advocates of the power of the arts, and the essential role they play in our daily lives and we are incredibly proud that we can now offer the highest calibre of music and performing arts instruction to the Abu Dhabi community, and to those in the region and beyond,” said Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT.

“This agreement to launch Berklee Abu Dhabi is an important step in further establishing the emirate as a global hub for culture and education.”

Berklee College of Music, in Boston, is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programmes at its campuses in the US and Valencia, Spain, and through its distance-learning programme, Berklee Online.

“Together, we will create artistic access and opportunity for young performers in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Berklee president Roger Brown, at the signing on Monday.

“We believe we can have a positive impact on the future of music and dance in the region and around the world.”

Grammy-nominated, Lebanese American singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa will serve as artistic director while music producer and Grammy-winning engineer Gael Hedding has been appointed director of Berklee Abu Dhabi.

The signing of the agreement was also attended by Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed, member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office.

Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed, member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, witnesses the signing of the agreement to open Berklee Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat island, on Monday. Seen signing are Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi and Roger Brown, President of Berklee College of Music. Courtesy Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed oversees Mohamed Al Mubarak and Roger Brown of Berklee signing the deal. Courtesy: DCT Abu Dhabi

Updated: January 14, 2020 10:29 AM

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