“I’m really grateful and thankful,” says Marcus Prince, whose performance this week kicks off the 401 Park in the Fenway leg of Berklee College of Music’s free annual Summer in the City concert series. “I don’t take it for granted.”
Prince, a senior at Berklee, played on his steel pan while his friend played the keys beside him. It’s the musician’s third time performing for Summer in the City.
Jonathan Foo, the marketing manager of Berklee Presents who co-organized this concatenation with Michael Borgida, says these summer shows are intended for Berklee students, recent alumni, and faculty to get opportunities to perform at various Boston venues while bringing live music to Boston. This year marks the 14th year of the series and, according to Foo, has more performances and partnerships with venues than ever before. From April to September, there will be a total of 400 performances across over 30 spaces in the Greater Boston area, including new partnerships with the likes of 401 Park in the Fenway, South Boston Maritime Park, and City Winery on the Greenway.
“What’s really cool is that we are diversifying the performances,” Foo says. “We are trying to put together a lot of different styles and genres from jazz to Cuban to folk, bluegrass, and even Chinese fusion. We want the performances to be reflective of the best student performers we have here.”
There are more than 800 performers participating this summer, all of whom will be paid by the venues. Foo says that number doesn’t even include the sound engineers and producers who helped put the concerts together.
Sydney Matlock, Berklee ’18, rocked the Charlestown Navy Yard on Independence Day and has several more concerts throughout the summer. Matlock, a Canadian pop and country singer, performs originals from her debut EP, Lucky Girl, as well as covers.
“I just recently got my green card, so this is my first official Fourth of July, and I feel super blessed to be given this opportunity,” Matlock says.
Matlock says the outings are among her first paid gigs since graduating from Berklee.
“I think this is just so wonderful that they’re giving paid opportunities to students,” she says. “We put in a lot of work, but unfortunately those opportunities don’t come as frequently as we’d like in Boston, so I think this is such a good program to get our names out there and give us exposure.”
The 401 Park series will have concerts on Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunchtime from noon to 1:30 pm. 401 Park planner Molly Kalan, who worked with Berklee on the partnership, says it was their goal to have a range of different musicians that heads in the Fenway area can enjoy during a walk in the new park or during a lunch break.
“We wanted to work with Berklee because we love the Summer in the City series and how it activates all different spaces around Boston,” Kalan says. “We thought, ‘This is a brand-new space. We should bring students from Berklee and other artists to provide both the neighborhood with some entertainment during lunchtime in the summer and be part of the greater network that Berklee is providing for the whole city.’”
The park, which just opened on June 17, will feature R&B jazz folk artist Jackson Lundy on July 23, whose single “Calypso” has surpassed 1 million streams on Spotify and reached number four on the streaming service’s US viral list.
“It happens that a lot of the talented students we have here,” Foo says, “they play all sorts of styles. We just want the series to be reflective of the talent that we have here at Berklee and the caliber.”
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