Berklee College of Music Annual Residency

We had the pleasure of hosting Helen Sherrah-Davies and Kevin Bleau for one week for our annual partnership residency with Berklee College of Music. This week long residency allows for professors at Berklee to dive into their personal projects while the students are on spring break.

Helene Sherrah-Davies: "I would like to start work on bringing the imagination and the symbolic world of imagery found in such prints as Gafurius’s Practica Musice 1496 – “The Music of the Spheres”, into the classroom. Whenever I have shown this Alchemical image to students, it has sparked immense interest & discussion, & leads me to believe that there is value in it and that I need to pursue it. i.e. brain-storming for a wider library of metaphors associated with “harmony” concepts in music - but not limited by discipline. Ultimately, I would love to be able to create some kind of musical “Periodic Table” of elements. We live in such a reductionist world.

Whilst there is sometimes magical thinking of the type “I know how to spell a dominant chord…” but the student may not know how to do that in reality (yet), I do believe that there IS another type of Magical Reality, that many students seek at Berklee, & that I witness in the classroom when I talk about these matters - and how wonderful it is that we still have a school dedicated to the Art of the Invisible! It may be somewhat counter-cultural, but I endeavor to bring those innate senses and intuitions more alive, being in contact with them I believe, is a wellspring of both healing and creativity, nourishing “harmony” at every level, in a fractured world.

The gift of a week of elemental devotion to the “cause” is precious indeed, and means much to me. I am so utterly grateful to both Chalk Hill, to Berklee, and to Life, for having been given this chance to both “be” and “create” in such a place of Beauty…"

Kevin Bleau:

"My collaborator David Schrag and I have been writing our musical Roswitha for three and a half years. During that time, we’ve presented excerpts to our writing group at least twenty times and gradually written song after song, scene after scene. In December 2018, we reached a milestone. We wrote all the way to the end of the show and presented a concert version of Roswitha at Berklee. We learned a lot about our piece by watching it on stage for the first time.

Now that the show is complete, we are applying for workshop opportunities, where we will test our show under the guidance of Broadway veteran performers, dramaturgs, and writers. Before we put ourselves on the line in front of these influential people, we need to make sure Roswitha is in the best shape possible. Uninterrupted time for writing and revision, something that rarely occurs at Berklee(!), will be plentiful at Chalk Hill, and I hope to emerge with a few revised songs and a draft of a new finale to the show.

Roswitha features a strong female protagonist and contemporary vocal/choral music inspired by Medieval and Renaissance styles.

Here’s the synopsis: RoswithaA 10th-century German noblewoman is forced into a loveless marriage. In secret, she writes romantic comedies like the Greek and Roman plays she studied as a child. Her husband finds out and threatens her life. She must flee. She makes her way to Gandersheim Abbey, one of the few places where women are allowed to become independent scholars. But the only way she can gain admission is to invent a new identity, and this unexpectedly lands her in solitary confinement. Her passion and faith sustain her, and she goes on to become a powerful force within the abbey. When the abbey’s very existence is threatened, she uses her artistic talents to save it. In doing so, she becomes her true self and secures her place in history as Europe’s first female playwright."