Berklee alums Simone Scazzocchio and Shea Rose, curators of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s RISE music series, are tapping talent from their alma mater for the upcoming season, which will have students and fellow grads rocking Calderwood Hall as opening acts for major names. The season kicks off on Sept. 7, when current student Domi Degalle opens for British headliner Jacob Collier, but in the meantime, we had the duo reflect on their own college days.
What was your favorite class?
Scazzocchio: Contemporary Techniques in Film Scoring with Sheldon Mirowitz. It was a humbling class, challenging and motivating. It made me realize how much I didn’t know, and it made me question what I knew. The class is designed for both personal and professional growth, challenging your sensibility and your musicianship. Rose: Harmony 1 with Eric Byers and Writing Skills with Jeff Perry are what I would call the “building block” courses at Berklee. When I started, I had very little music theory education, so getting a ton of information about how to write and see music on paper was paralyzing at times. I’m grateful to Eric and Jeff for teaching these concepts in a very simple, practical and real-life way.
Who was your favorite professor?
Scazzocchio: Each one gave me something different and equally significant. Vuk Kulenovic and Tibor Pusztai both became close mentors and friends, challenging the hell out of my writing with a lot of love and passion. They both passed during the past year or two, but I carry their teaching with me every time I write. Rose: The late Armsted Christian was just beyond. You can’t teach soul, but you can be a person of light who helps others access it in themselves, and that’s who Armsted was in his life.
What performance were you most proud of as a student?
Scazzocchio: I had the honor of conducting a 100-piece choir in the beautiful Futura Production studios for a project called Rhythm of the Universe. Each person in the choir was from a different country. Rose: I was proud to graduate. There was a moment when I didn’t care to finish. While in school, I had several real-world experiences, and those revealed a different kind of music industry out there. … I’m grateful that I stuck with it though. Once the glitter and gold settles, the practical skills, friends, professors and Berklee network is a strong fabric that’s not as flaky, I think, as the industry.