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Berklee boosts recruiting in Latin America

Associated Press | 10/14/2009, 5:08 a.m.

In addition, 12 Berklee alumni have received 35 Latin Grammy Awards since the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences founded the awards in 2000.

All those efforts are combining to help transform perceptions of Berklee, Stagnaro said. “Today, if you ask any musician, in places like Venezuela, ‘Where do you want to study music if you can go to the U.S.,’’’ Stagnaro said, “they’ll say Berklee.’’

Stagnaro said Berklee’s expansion into Latin America is an effort to increase Latino enrollment even more.

Rafael Restrepo, 22, a classical percussionist from Colombia, said Latin American musicians seek out Berklee because the school offers courses in music writing, production and music business, but also makes Latinos feel at home.

According the school’s latest enrollment numbers, 11 percent of the 4,144 student body are U.S. Latinos. Around 3 percent are students from Latin America.

Jose Masso, host of ‘Con Salsa!,’ a 35-year-old Latin music show on Boston University’s public radio station, said he wasn’t surprised by Berklee’s latest plans.

“This is not a fly-by-night initiative for Hispanic Heritage Month,’’ Masso said. “What you are seeing here is the growth of a very strategic plan to reach out to Latinos in Latin America and the U.S.’’

Pianist and song writer Paola Decanini, 23, of Monterrey, Mexico, said she could have easily studied music in Mexico. But Decanini said she applied to Berklee to study music writing with “the best in the world.’’ Her main goal: write songs for the likes of Colombian pop star Shakira and Mexican crooner Luis Miguel.

“Before Berklee, this was all a dream,’’ Decanini said. “Now, I think it’s possible.’’

(Associated Press)