Berklee Acoustic String Festival

The Berklee College of Music in Boston holds intensive crash courses each summer, both for incoming or potential students to get a taste of the Berklee experience, and to allow non-matriculated students to benefit from the school’s storied faculty.

For several years they have held a String Fling each year for students of violin, viola and cello, primarily focused on developing improvisational skills in multiple stylistic disciplines.

The program will be held again this year (July 18-21,2009), but renamed as the Acoustic String Festival in recognition of Berklee’s recent inclusion of an Acoustic String principal for mandolin and banjo.

From the Berklee web site…

The program will build on the core curriculum of past String Fling programs, teaching improvisation to violin, viola, and cello players, but expanding that teaching to admit other instruments traditionally found in a bluegrass band such as acoustic mandolin and guitar. Players will have the opportunity to study with and be coached by world-renowned mandolinist John McGann, and be trained in musical elements necessary to perform at a high level in a wide range of roots music styles.

The faculty will include:

  • Eugene Friesen – cellist with the Paul Winter Consort and one of the world’s greatest improvising cellists.
  • Matt Glaser – chair of Berklee’s String Department, author of four books on contemporary string styles, and well-known teacher and performer.
  • Chris Howes – versatile violinist/composer who has performed and/or recorded with Randy Brecker, Jack DeJohnette, Les Paul, Lenny White, and others.
  • John McGann – mandolinist and member of the Wayfaring Strangers, Rust Farm, and Boston Edge. He has performed with Darol Anger, Yoshihiro Arita, John Blake, the Boston Pops, Celtic Fiddle Festival, Seamus Connolly, Paddy Cronin, S?ɬ©amus Egan, Bill Evans, Bruce Gertz, David Grisman, Martin Hayes, the Time Jumpers, Utah Symphony, and Stefan Wrembel.
  • Rob Thomas – fantastic modern jazz violinist and bassist who has performed with the String Trio of New York and the Mahavishnu Project, among others.

The program is open to students high school age and above, and limited space in Berklee’s residence hall is available during this session. Tuition runs $760 for the four day event, with housing costs another $420 if needed.

More information and application details can be found on the Berklee web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.