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Abu Dhabi teams up with Berklee College of Music

ABU DHABI – The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, DCT Abu Dhabi, has signed an agreement with internationally renowned contemporary music and performing arts institution Berklee College of Music to establish Berklee Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island.

A special ceremony at Manarat Al Saadiyat today, attended by H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, saw the agreement signed by Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi and Roger Brown, President of Berklee College of Music.

The ceremony was attended by, Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development and Sara Awad Issa Musallam, Chairman of the Department of Education and Knowledge.

Berklee Abu Dhabi, which will be located in the newly renovated Norman Foster-designed UAE Pavilion building, will develop and deliver workshops, masterclasses, courses, ensembles and labs, and will present a number of annual performances. The collaboration between DCT Abu Dhabi and Berklee also sees the creation of a $5 million fellowship fund, which will offer scholarships for students to pursue degree programmes in Boston, New York, Valencia, or through Berklee Online; attend a summer programme in Boston or Valencia; or attend a programme in Abu Dhabi.

An exciting addition to the Saadiyat Cultural District, Berklee Abu Dhabi is a 42,000-square-foot arts education centre, with facilities including a performance space, a world-class recording studio, rehearsal studios, practice rooms, ensemble rooms, a tech lab and office space. Located right next to Manarat Al Saadiyat cultural centre, Berklee Abu Dhabi will also have access to performance spaces in Manarat al Saadiyat’s existing building.

Berklee Abu Dhabi will launch in February 2020, with its first semester running until May 2020. Programmes offered at the centre will serve local and regional students of all ages with ensembles, private instruction, a recording studio and instruction in production, songwriting, dance, theatre and more.

The first semester will include sessions on subjects such as ‘DJing, Turntablism’, ‘Songwriting’, ‘Music Production’, ‘Dance’, ‘Contemporary String Techniques’, ‘Music Business’, ‘Recording and Mixing’, ‘The Music of the Middle East’, ‘Jazz Improv and Music Theory’ and ‘Creative Entrepreneurship’, amongst many more.

World-class instructors for these exciting sessions will include: Stephen Webber, an Emmy-winning composer, and the Executive Director of Berklee NYC who, amongst many other accolades, founded Berklee’s DJ and turntablism classes; Ruka White, the Director of the Commercial Dance Intensive, Programme Director of the Berklee Summer Initiative, and Assistant Professor of Dance at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee; Acclaimed Palestinian multi-style cellist/composer Naseem Alatrash; Emilien Moyon, the Director of the Global Entertainment and Music Business Graduate Programme at Berklee in Valencia, Spain; pioneer of online music mixing Richard Furch, who has worked as a mixer and engineer for artists such as Prince, Outkast, Frank Ocean, and GEM; award-winning songwriter and artist Kyler England; and Rich Jacques, a Los Angeles-based artist, Grammy-winning producer, and composer. Amongst many others.

“At DCT Abu Dhabi, we strongly believe in international cultural dialogue, and the building of cultural connections with countries around the world to promote exchange and knowledge transfer. Our emirate also prides itself on its partnerships with preeminent international institutions and now Berklee Abu Dhabi is another innovative addition to the Saadiyat Cultural District and to Abu Dhabi’s cultural offering,” said Al Mubarak.

“We are firm advocates of the power of the arts, and the essential role they play in our daily live 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. 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 is the preeminent institute of contemporary music and the performing arts, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programmes at its campuses in Boston, USA and Valencia, Spain, and through its award-winning distance learning programme, Berklee Online. Dedicated to nurturing the creative and career potential of the world’s most inspired artists, Berklee’s commitment to arts education is reflected in the work of its students, faculty, and alumni hundreds of whom have been recognised with Grammy, Tony, Oscar, and Emmy Awards.

“This close partnership with DCT – Abu Dhbai provides us with a connection to one of the most culturally diverse and historically rich parts of the world, and to the vitality and forward-thinking vision of Abu Dhabi,” said Berklee President Roger H. Brown. “Together, we will create artistic access and opportunity for young performers in the Middle East and North Africa. We are thrilled to provide this creative education through the cutting-edge teaching of music, dance, and theater. We believe we can have a positive impact on the future of music and dance in the region and around the world.” Berklee Abu Dhabi will incorporate alumni and prominent musicians, with Grammy-nominated, Lebanese American singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa serving as Artistic Director, and prominent music producer and Grammy and Latin Grammy winning engineer Gael Hedding appointed Director of Berklee Abu Dhabi. Both Karaa and Hedding are Berklee alums, with Hedding also having taught at the Valencia campus. Berklee Abu Dhabi will recruit additional alumni from the region as both permanent and guest faculty. Additionally, guest artists from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee will be featured during workshops and clinics in dance and musical theatre at the centre.

The establishment of Berklee Abu Dhabi furthers DCT-Abu Dhabi’s mission to build and support a thriving cultural ecosystem in the emirate. As the first institution offering international-calibre music instruction in the UAE, the curriculum will enhance Abu Dhabi’s calendar of performing arts, currently taking place in spaces such as Manarat Al Saadiyat and the Cultural Foundation Theatre, and complement the work of the Bait Al Oud academy.

Expansion to Abu Dhabi will provide Berklee with an educational programme in one of the most culturally diverse and historically rich parts of the world and will improve access to young talent in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2020

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