BOSTON, MA. Before the featured artists for the Panama Jazz Festival step on stage, Berklee College of Music will have already put many of the country’s young talents in the spotlight to audition for the prize of music education. In the past two years, the college has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships for summer and full-time education. As part of the college’s unique worldwide search to identify outstanding musicians, a team of Berklee educators will conduct auditions and interviews on January 11 (Panamanian applicants), at Academia de Música La Nota (in front of the Multiplaza on Via Israel), 9am-5pm, & on January 15 (foreign applicants), at Ascanio Arosemena Theater (in classrooms behind the Theater), Panama Canal Authority, Balboa-Ancon, from 9am-2pm. They will select and announce winners on Saturday, January 17, at Cathedral Square, Old Panama City. Some of those chosen may attend Berklee as early as this summer!

Berklee administrators expect to see hundreds of musicians from Central and South America, possibly as far away as Chile for auditions, interviews and clinics.

In addition to bringing musicians to Boston, Berklee is sending Music Production and Engineering and Music Synthesis professors to Panama for another type of scholarship, with audio and music technology production clinics and workshops. From January 12-16, 9 am to 6 pm, Berklee will offer innovative programs such as «Sampling Workshop Around Panama City» that will literally take participants outdoors (Summit Park, the Public Market, Central Avenue, and other landmarks) to capture material for their work. The schedule of these clinics is available at www.amplificapanama.org.

That bridge leads back to Panama for tenor saxophonist and 2007 Berklee Presidential Scholar Jahaziel Arrocha, who kicks off the festival as part of Berklee’s Panama Jazz Quartet for a live, real-time sound recording clinic at the Ascanio Arosemena Theater. Arrocha received a Five-Week Summer Performance program scholarship in Panama and was later selected as a one-of-its-kind (for a music college) Presidential Scholar, which pays for all tuition, housing, and fees for four years. Arrocha’s return home will include another performance with the Berklee all-star, all-scholarship group of Jimmy Lyon Scholarship recipient, drummer Jonathan Pinson from Harbor City, CA; pianist Julian Shore, from Narraganset, RI; and bassist Shinichiro Sakaino from Tokyo, Japan, on Saturday, January 17, on the same stage where this year’s winners will be announced and the place he stood only a year ago when he accepted his scholarship.

Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown will be at this year’s fest attending public happenings and private events. One of Berklee’s missions is to gather the world’s best musicians for study. «Our goal at Berklee is to become the global focal point for creative musicians who are committed to creating the next new music,» says Brown. «We have to work hard to find those talented aspiring artists, support them to come to Berklee, and help them fully unleash their creative capacities.»

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