2022 Berklee City Music Boston Alumni Reflective


Written by Brandi Currelley

As we kickoff a new season and school year, we're taking a moment to reflect back on the 2022 High School Academy Graduates, some of whom are attending Berklee this Fall and others who are continuing their studies with HSA instructors this semester.

Read along as we dive into some of their most memorable moments in the program, advice for their underclassmen, and the exciting road ahead.

Laura Finet Lopez
Laura Finet-Lopez at the 2022 HSA Completion Concert

How were you introduced to City Music?

I attended the Boston Arts Academy and during my freshman year, my advisor, Christopher Rivelli, who also teaches at City Music and Berklee, knew that it was my dream to go to Berklee. He mentioned to me that there were extra programs that I could be a part of that would help with my chances of getting into Berklee. A lot of students at BAA were also part of City Music as well and they were big influencers for me as well. - Laura Finet Lopez

My parents are teachers at Berklee and many years ago my sister went to Prep. She really loved her experience there and would talk about the different classes she took. So naturally, I wanted to go too. - Carolina Perez

What do you feel like you've learned about yourself as an artist or a musician/artist through the program?

What has really been important for my growth throughout the program is building connections and understanding that those connections might lead to something amazing down the line. Being able to have professors that went to or teach at Berklee and are incredible, professional, dedicated musicians that just shed so much light. Tyson Jackson was the director for the jazz ensemble and was a really huge mentor of mine. He shared so much insight, not just about music, but about life. - Xavier Vogt

I learned that people are always growing, so not to be discouraged or insecure. Everyone learns at a different rate, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and there's always something to learn. It's just a part of fighting and doing what you love and fighting for what you want to do, because if you don't fight, then you're not going to be happy with the outcome. - Laura Finet Lopez

Carolina Perez
Carolina Perez performing with the Vocal Ensemble at the 2021 HSA Winter Showcase

What were some of your favorite parts of being in the program?

Private instruction with Mr. Duke was one of my favorite parts of the program. He was always teaching us something, always stretching us, and expanding our knowledge. All the while asking us what we wanted to learn and what things we were interested in. He always knew how to keep the class interesting. Five-Week was great as well. It allowed me to learn who I am as a musician, who other people are as musicians, and then expand on that. To what are other kids my age doing around the world and ask myself what am I not doing, what can I learn from them? - Messiah Grace

Making really close friends through the program has been a great experience for me. Outside of Berklee, I’ve had a difficult time making friends because it always felt like we were in competition with one another, it never felt like music was something we could enjoy together. At City Music, I met a couple of close friends, and they really helped me get through it, and it was just great because there was no toxic energy involved. - Laura Finet Lopez

What advice do you have for current and prospective HSA students?

Don't be afraid to speak up and be a leader, because that's what you are. It doesn't matter what age you are, what grade you’re in, or what level you are because you are a leader and there's always something for you to teach and for you to learn. - Laura Finet Lopez

Think about what you can change and don't worry and stress about the things that you can't. Try to think about the bigger picture because it’s not always about the gig that's coming up, having something else to do. Sometimes, you have to just say, "all right, I can't party with you guys today. I have a bigger picture I'm focusing on, I have to go practice or go study this music. - Messiah Grace

Try to figure out what you want and be totally focused on that. Maintain that focus and consistency and always practice and show up prepared, knowing what you're supposed to play. - Carolina Perez

Connect yourself with everyone around you and be the person that people want to hang with. You never know when that might lead to some performance or gig. Be open minded, take advantage of every resource you have, and just dedicate yourself. - Xavier Vogt

Xavier Vogt
Xavier Vogt performing at the 2021 HSA Winter Showcase

What does “that feeling” – the sensation of being in your creative “zone” mean to you?

The feeling of not knowing what's next to come: When I perform a solo or with others I'm not worried about what's going to happen next. In life, I'm always looking to the future about things I have to do. But with music, it's more within the moment. Any thoughts that prohibit me from being in the moment just float away. That's why I love jazz, how it's spontaneous and creative within the moment and environment you're in. - Xavier Vogt

Being really excited, feeling like this is the moment it's meant to be. - Carolina Perez

Messiah Grace
Messiah Grace performing at the 2021 HSA Winter Showcase with the Advanced Ensemble

As a bass player – when I got to ensemble practice and my drummer William Brown was there and we’d just lock in. We played the music for the great David Alexis (a Berklee City Music alum and High School Academy instructor), and were just playing and learning. David would always push and surprise us. We never knew what was going to happen, but we always knew it'd be something great to add to the show. - Messiah Grace

It’s emotional, not in a sad way, but in a proud way. Every time I do something, I'm very proud of myself because I always tend to overthink. But when I actually start writing or start performing, I feel really proud. I really never had a support system outside of my family and close friends in music. My dreams of being a singer were often beaten down and I was told I couldn't sing. So, I always get an overwhelming emotional feeling because I am so proud of who I am, how far I've come, and how I never stop and give up no matter what. - Laura Finet Lopez

As these scholars close one chapter and begin another, we’re looking forward to seeing how they continue to sharpen their skills, pave their own pathways, and immerse themselves deeper into their exploration and love of music. We thank each student of the 2022 Berklee City Music Boston HSA Graduating Class for their perseverance, positivity, and priceless contributions to the program. Furthermore, we humbly welcome our incoming classes to Berklee City Music!