The American Roots Music Program at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA has announced Julian Pinelli as the winner of the 2016 Fletcher Bright Award.
The award has been given since 2008 to an outstanding young Berklee student in the strings program, which covers the cost of a semester’s tuition, and is funded by Fletcher Bright, the prominent Tennessee fiddler and philanthropist.
Matt Glaser, Artistic Director of the American Roots Music Program, and former Director of Strings at Berklee, says that Bright’s beneficence has been a big benefit to the school.
“Every year we choose an up-and-coming fiddle player who receives a very generous award to continue studying at Berklee. They also take a band of all Berklee students to play at Fletcher’s 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival in Chattanooga. He’s been very generous for years.
Winning this award is an almost certain guarantee that whoever wins will go on to be a successful working fiddler and do quite well for themselves, based on previous winners.”
Julian is a second year student at Berklee, and a native of Asheville, NC, where he started his study of the violin at only 4 years old. His mom, a Suzuki violin instructor, got him started and his dad, with a keen interest in bluegrass music, began showing him fiddle tunes by the time he was 7.
Homeschooling provided Julian plenty of time to focus on music, and he continued to pursue both classical and bluegrass tracks through high school. He played with his folks in a family band called New Broad River Band, and he also got some time in with Southern Crescent Bluegrass, a group of older, traditional bluegrass pickers near Asheville.
A cousin, Duncan Wickel, went through Berklee and served as Pinelli’s impetus to make the move to Boston. There he has excelled in his studies, culminating in this month’s award.
Julian hopes to follow in the footsteps of other recent Berklee grads like Alex Hargreaves and Michael Barnett, who have gone on to a music career after completing their schooling.
“There is a whole movement of string players who have been coming out of Berklee who come from a bluegrass background, learn jazz at Berklee, and have now incorporated all that into their music.
I’m super honored to win this award; beyond words, really.”
Here’s a look at this fine young musician, in a performance of one of his tunes, Flutterby Ridge, with a group of fellow students. Jake Howard is on mandolin, Mike Gaisbacher on bass, and Ben Knorr on banjo.
Congratulations, Julian Pinelli!