Students of the Performing Arts received some welcome news last week with the announcement of the opening of Berklee College of Music on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Classes will begin as early as next month in the UAE Pavilion building on the island.
The 4,274 sq m facility will include a performance space, recording studio, rehearsal studios, practice rooms, ensemble rooms, a tech lab and office space. The college, which is allied with the world renowned American music and performing arts college, aims to attract students of all ages from across the UAE and the wider region.
The broad scope of Berklee Abu Dhabi is reflected in the range of activities on offer during its first semester. These include sessions on subjects such as DJ-ing, Turntablism, Songwriting, Music Production, Dance, Contemporary String Techniques, Music Business, Recording and Mixing, the Music of the Middle East and Creative Entrepreneurship.
Grammy-nominated Lebanese American singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa has been appointed Artistic Director of Berklee Abu Dhabi. Another leading music producer and Grammy-winning engineer, Gael Hedding, is Director of the college.
A major additional announcement was the offering of a $5 million (Dh18.4m) fellowship fund, which will offer scholarships for students to pursue degrees in Boston, New York, Valencia or on Berklee Online as well as the opportunity to attend a summer programme in Boston or Valencia or Abu Dhabi.
“Together, we will create artistic access and opportunity for young performers in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Berklee President Roger Brown, at the signing on Monday.
“We believe we can have a positive impact on the future of music and dance in the region and around the world.”
The announcement reflects a clear focus from schools and educational authorities in the UAE on developing and encouraging the arts. ArtsEd, arguably the UK’s leading performing arts school, announced partnerships with a number of schools in Dubai last year.