BANDED and Ghost Box Orchestra: an interview with Nazli Rex

About Ghost Box Orchestra:

Ghost Box Orchestra is a psychedelic, mainly instrumental, Boston-based band who infuse western soundtracks with a desert rock and surf reverb tinge. Their songs speak in subtle whispers and fuzz-freaked panoramas full of stomping rhythms and hazy shoegazey guitar slabs.

Involvement with BANDED and PULSE: 


Their epic composition, Desert Lights, has been featured in three exclusive project-based composition lesson plans on PULSE. As the film, BANDED, captures their creative approach to designing an intense auditory aroma, students and teachers gain an understanding that musical inspiration transpires through no fixed medium.


We had the opportunity to chat with Nazli Rex, keyboardist and percussionist of GBO, about her musical background and experience with the band.

PULSE: What was your musical training like growing up? Influences? Role models?

Nazli Rex: I started piano lessons in second grade. Apparently my mom heard me banging on the piano (my older sister was taking lessons at the time) and wanted to hear something more musical. In fifth grade I picked up the trumpet and then in 10th grade I started learning the guitar. In high school, I was in marching band, concert band, and jazz band, but I listened to everything from the Beatles, to grunge, to swing, to classical, and everything in between. I equally loved Nirvana, Bille Holiday, Debussy, and Led Zeppelin. Role models for me were (as cheesy as it sounds) my band leaders. They lead the show and made it fun.

PULSE: How did the band start and how did members come together?

NR: Jeremy (lead guitar and vocalist) wrote the majority of our songs by himself in the beginning. He approached me after hearing that I was looking for a new project. It took a while to find all the right players. We auditioned several drummers before finding Marty. Chris (rhythm guitar) was an acquaintance of Jeremy’s and our original bass player was also a friend of a friend. Once we all got together, it gelled. Since then, our music was derived either from jam sessions or from one member bringing in a riff that led the song in the direction it needed to go.

PULSE: How did the name “Ghost Box Orchestra” come about?

NR: Jeremy wanted to use the idea of a ghost box in our name. Each band member brought a characteristic sound to the overall group and since, electronically, we were creating so many different sounds with our instruments, we added orchestra. To me, we were bringing together sounds beyond the traditional timbres of our instruments to communicate.

PULSE: What are some positive and negative factors while striving to produce a musical product with other creative musicians? 

NR: I personally like to write music collaboratively. I am not a songwriter. Every once in a while, I come up with a little melodic line, but I don’t know how to develop it. When you’re in a group of people with all different songwriting skills, your ideas can take shape progressively. It may not always go in the direction you expect, but since I deeply loved the aesthetic of my friends’ music with whom I played, I was happy with the result.

PULSE: During the BANDED film, you composed a song based on an image. What are some other sources of inspiration or, rather, conceptual techniques you all use while composing?

NR: Jam sessions and riffs or melodic lines helped to shape a lot of our music. Some songs were composed by an individual but then each member put their own take on their instrument’s part.

PULSE: I’ve noticed a member of the band has left since the filming of BANDED. How have new members redirected the overall band’s sound or collaboration, if any?

NR: It definitely changed the sound in subtle ways. Each person has their own set of influences and that in turn affected the band’s sound. Dennis is very much into post-rock and avant-garde jazz and a lot of our songs had uncommon structure during his time with us. Zac, our current bass player, listens to much heavier music, and brought a darker, grittier sound to the songs.

PULSE: What is next for GBO?

NR: Good question! No big plans currently.

You can check out the Ghost Box Orchestra’s website for music and upcoming events.


Free Trial of Flipcause, a Unique Fundraising Solution


The Berklee City Music Network aims to provide its partners with numerous resources, including opportunities to partner with great companies like Flipcause. Flipcause helps non-profits achieve fundraising goals through an integrated system that uses a variety of tools.

Flipcause provides intuitive software that will make your fundraising efforts a breeze! With Flipcause’s user friendly, easy to navigate interface, you will spend less time on tedious tasks and more time focusing on your organization’s cause.  Check out this video below to learn more about Flipcause.

Flipcause has a proven track record for helping non-profits meet and even exceed their fundraising goals. For example, Hilary Palanza, founder of Palanza Dance, an arts organization in San Francisco, says, “Flipcause has been a great way for my dance company to raise more donations, sell tickets to our performances, and learn about our supporters—all from a single place.”

As a generous offer, Flipcause is extending a 30-day FREE trial to all Berklee City Music Network Partners. To take advantage of this offer, please contact Flipcause’s Director of Community Development, Derrick Cagaanan at

In addition, on January 17th at 1pm EST there will be a group webinar where Network members can view a live demo of Flipcause.  If you would like to take part in this webinar, you can register using this link:

We know Flipcause is sure to provide results which will not disappoint. Check out everything Flipcause has to offer and learn more about their product on their site:




Register for NAMM 2017!

As many of you may know, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) will be namm-show-registrationholding their 2017 trade show in Anaheim, CA from January 19th to the 22nd. This event is a fantastic opportunity to connect with a variety of music industry exhibitors and to explore different products and brands. There are also educational sessions and networking events. Plus, who doesn’t want to go to sunny, Southern California in the middle of January? Luckily, NAMM has generously offered a discount to all Berklee City Music Network partners. Register by January 4th and receive a 4-day pass for just $25! Use this link and the instructions on the right to complete the registration before the 4th of January. (

Also, if you ARE attending NAMM, there are two important events to remember while there:

  • First, there will be a Network Lunch for all Network partners. It will take place on Saturday, January 21st between 12 and 2pm. More specifics to follow but please make sure to RSVP to by December 16th in order to attend the lunch.namm-lunch
  • Second, there will be a Berklee College of Music Alumni Hang on January 19th from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort. Use this link to register:

Hope to see you all at NAMM in January 2017!



Casio Master Class with Pianist, Eldar Djangirov

casio_eldar-djangirovThis week, Thursday, December 8th, The Jazz Composition Department, its chair, Eric Gould, and Berklee City Music are excited to host Casio America, Inc. at a Master Class with pianist, Eldar Djangirov. The event will include a performance by Djangirov, a Q&A session, and a student performance and critique. Come by the Steve Heck Room (1140 Boylston) at 3pm on Thursday to check it out.

This past September, Casio welcomed New York based pianist, Eldar Djangirov to its Artist Program, which provides electronic, musical instruments to aspiring musical artists. Berklee City Music is proud to host this Master Class with Casio, as the consumer electronic business has generously donated several keyboards to the City Music Network.

Djangirov is an accomplished pianist and composer from Kansas City by way of the former Soviet Union, who has played at jazz festivals and toured extensively across the world. In 2008, Djangirov was nominated for a Grammy for his album, “Re-imagination,” which includes bold, original songs along with jazz classics that the artist recreates with a sophisticated and fresh new take. The young pianist has been described by the New York Times as, “a blend of musical intelligence, organizational savvy, enthusiasm and prowess that was all the more impressive for seeming so casual… an ebullient impressionist.”

Check out Djangirov’s musical prowess in this video below and make sure to catch him live this Thursday afternoon from 3 to 5pm!

Erin Zanders Receives Berklee City Music Emerging Leadership Award

ezIn case you missed it, this year’s annual Berklee City Music Summit took place in Newark, NJ from November 10th to the 12th. Hosted by Berklee City Music Network (BCMN) partner New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the 2016 Summit may have been the best one yet, with content ranging from thought-provoking addresses, engaging panels with industry professionals, and of course awe-inspiring performances from talented, musical youth from across the country!

The Summit also offered an opportunity to honor four Network partners with Distinguished Service Awards. The Berklee City Music Distinguished Service Awards highlight individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to BCMN. One such honoree was Erin Zanders, the Operations Manager for the Community Music School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Erin was awarded the Emerging Leadership Award, which is given to a staff or faculty member who upholds the BCMN mission, actively participates in teacher training/BCMN events, provides leadership within their own organization as well as that of the greater network, encourages student development, serves as a role model, takes part in BCMN scholarship fundraising, and makes a positive impact on their community.

Erin Zanders has certainly exemplified emerging leadership since taking on her role at the Community Music School in November of 2014. In her own words, Zanders is “strongly committed to helping people of all means and experience levels to develop their love of the arts.” She has continually upheld this commitment through her tireless, day-to-day operations of the school and her activeness with the students. Her positive attitude, combined with her diligence and professionalism makes her the worthy candidate of the Emerging Leadership Award.

The Community Music School of Raleigh, NC has offered music education to students with limited financial resources since opening its doors in 1994. The school has been recognized both locally and nationally for its positive influence on the lives of over 2,000 students. Through both private and ensemble training, the school’s talented team of educators and staff provide students with tools and resources that will help them build musical, skill sets that will enrich all aspects of their lives.


Introducing the 2016 City Music Summit Master Class Bands

Here are the Berklee City Music Network Sites that will be representing at the Berklee City Music Summit Master Class Bands.


Live! Modern School of Music  Miami, FL

Live! Modern School of Music’s integral mission is to cater to the individual, transgressing conventional music education into a more contemporary approach that involves communication of ideas, creativity, and expression.

Director: Juan Diaz
Ensemble Director: Zach Larmer
Students Performing: Sasha Crews (Voice), David Lehr (Bass), Teddy Kingsbury (Keyboard), Mason Porter-Brown (Guitar), and Cristian Acevedo (Drums).


Tipitina’s Foundation  New Orleans, LA

Tipitina’s Foundation supports Louisiana and New Orleans’ irreplaceable music community and preserves the state’s unique musical cultures. The Foundation was established to promote childhood music education, the professional development of adult musicians, and the increased profile and viability of Louisiana music as a cultural, educational, and economic resource.

Executive Director: Bethany Paulsen
Artistic Director:
Donald Harrison
Students Performing:
Brian Richburg (Drums), Ian Kelly (Baritone Sax), Masha Davey (Piano), Anthony Beavers (Alto Sax), Dylan Caillouet (Bass), Diji Diallo (Trumpet), Dernell Lewis (Bass), and Kevin Gullage (Piano and Vocals)

Jazz Ed Logos-03.pngSeattle JazzEd  Seattle, WA

Seattle JazzED empowers students of all skill
levels and backgrounds to realize their full potential through exceptional music education.

Executive Director: Laurie de Koch
Ensemble Director: Kelly Barr Clingan
Students Performing:
Isabel Russak (Drums), Fredos Al-Haider (Trumpet), Julia Tanner (Guitar), Lauren Martinez (Trumpet), Amy Gore (Tenor Sax), Colby Lamson-Gordon (Bass), Emily Ko (Trombone), and Anne Pham (Alto Sax).


Camden Repertory Theatre  Camden, NJ

Camden Repertory Theater is dedicated to providing opportunities for urban communities to discover the power of performing arts through theater arts training and performance. Programs serve school-aged youth to adults; by partnering these diverse voices with acclaimed artists, the results have a lasting impact beyond the performance to broaden cultural horizons.

Executive Director: Desi Seck
Ensemble Director: Jojo Streeter
Students Performing: Joshua Sims (Trumpet), Brandon Ramos (Trombone), Randy Thompson (Tenor Sax), Justin Lane (Bass), Iyonna Herbert (Drums), Deshawn Casraiss (Keyboard), Isaiah Rivera (Keyboard), and Dawn Casraiss (Alto Sax).


Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts  Philadelphia, PA

The mission of the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts is to further the level of art and culture in the community. This goal is accomplished through promoting the development of talent and providing opportunities for the growth of the performing artist specifically, with a special emphasis in instrumentalists.

Executive Director: Donald Gardner
Artistic Director:
Lovett Hines
Students Performing: 
Bill Saurman (Trombone), Nazir Ebo (Drums), Dylan Reis (Bass), Dave Mosko (Trombone), Matthew Clarke (Alto&Baritone Sax), Joseph Block (Piano), and Tyler Dowling (Trumpet).

Read more about the Master Class Program on our Guidebook app #CityMusicSummit. Want to attend the 2016 Berklee City Music Summit? It’s not too late!

2016 Summit Countdown: Master Class Coaches’ Panel Uncovered

City Music Master Class: Coaches’ Panel

What is it?

The coaches’ will engage in a panel discussing to start off the day. Then begins the City Music Master Class which is an opportunity for students to learn from some of today’s leading industry artists. Each student ensemble is from a different Berklee City Music Network site and will be assigned to one of our coaches. Spending a whole day working on their craft guided by any of these coaches will not only help students improve dramatically but also network. In the evening, the students will demonstrate what they have learned by performing in front of the entire Summit.

Berklee City Music Network sites represented:

  • Camden Repertory Theatre (Camden, NJ)
  • Live! Modern School of Music (Miami, FL)
  • Seattle JazzEd (Seattle, WA)
  • The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Tipitina’s Foundation (New Orleans, LA)

Meet the 2016 Master Class Coaches:

Syreeta 300x300.jpgSyreeta Thompson 
Noted as one of the greatest instrumentalists and clinicians in music, Syreeta Thompson’s musical gifts prove to be both sincere and incomparable. The powerful trumpeter has managed to blaze through the gospel industry circuit by sharing the stage with many of its greatest icons, from the renowned Hezekiah Walker and the LFT Church Choir to the legendary Dorinda Clark-Cole. One of Thompson’s premier achievements to date is her role as the instrumental music coordinator for Clark-Cole’s Singers and Musicians Conference. Thompson is the department chair of middle school instrumental music for the Cicely Tyson School of Fine and Performing Arts in East Orange, New Jersey, and is currently at work on her ambitious sophomore project, Winner, scheduled for release in fall 2016.

larry-carlton_300x300Larry Carlton

Nineteen-time Grammy nominee, four-time Grammy winner, and all-time guitar great, Larry Carlton established himself from his first recording,A Little Help from My Friends. His studio credits include musicians and groups like Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., and Herb Alpert, along with dozens of other stars. He went on to perform with the Crusaders and then with the multiplatinum jazz supergroup Fourplay. With 30 albums to his credit and performances on over 100 albums that have gone gold or platinum, Carlton has set a standard for artistry that spans three decades.

jasonmarshall_300x300Jason Marshall
Jason Marshall is a highly sought after saxophonists across the whole music industry. He has recorded and performed with a diverse and esteemed collection of artists such as The Mingus Big Band, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Roy Hargrove, Abdullah Ibrahim, The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, The Mambo Legends, Dr. Lonnie Smith and The Roots. Born in Washington DC, He holds degrees from The New School for Social Research and Aaron Copeland School of Music. As a composer, Jason was nominated for a Grammy for his composition and arrangement “Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey!!” in 2009 featured on Roy Hargrove’s big band album “Emergence”.

vincent-gardner_300x300Vincent Gardner
Born in Chicago and raised in Hampton, Virginia, he decided on the trombone at age 12. He attended Florida A&M University and the University of North Florida. He caught the ear of Mercer Ellington, who hired Gardner for his first professional job. After graduating from college, he moved to Brooklyn, completed a world tour with Lauryn Hill in 2000, then joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Gardner has served as instructor at The Juilliard School and as adjunct instructor at The New School. He has performed with The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Bobby McFerrin, Harry Connick, Jr., The Saturday Night Live Band, Chaka Khan, A Tribe Called Quest, among others.

magda-300x300Magda Giannikou

Composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, pianist, and accordionist Magda Giannikou was born in Athens, Greece. After 15 years of education in classical piano, she decided to widen her musical spectrum by studying film scoring, jazz improvisation, arranging, and music production at Berklee College of Music. Today, as founder and leader of the world music group Banda Magda, she has toured five continents and 22 countries, performing in discerning venues and festivals. Giannikou has also collaborated with two-time Grammy Award–winning group Snarky Puppy. She has produced and arranged for Banda Magda’s first two albums (Amour, T’es Là? and Yerakina), and she is currently working on their third opus, Tigre, set to be released in 2017.

 Click here for more information on this year’s summit and it’s speakers.

Let’s Talk Summit! | Moving with Intent: Passion, Persistence, and Creativity in Today’s Music Industry


In Berklee City Music tradition, our annual summit includes a discussion between students and a selected panel involved in the music industry. This year it is called “Moving with Intent: Passion, Persistence, and Creativity in Today’s Music Industry”. This year each panel member’s expertise is both broad and different. This is going to make for one interesting discussion you cannot miss.

Meet Our Moderator

chris-emdin_300x300Christopher Emdin

Christopher Emdin is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as director of science education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education. He is currently a Caperton Fellow and Hip-Hop Archive Fellow at the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. Emdin was recently honored as a STEM Access Champion of Change by the White House and serves as a Minorities in Energy ambassador for the United States Department of Energy. He is the creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement, and he writes the provocative “Emdin 5” series on a number of contemporary social issues for the Huffington Post.

Meet The 2016 Coach Panel

frayserboy_300x300Frayser Boy

Academy Award winner Frayser Boy is a rapper from Memphis, Tennessee; he won Best Original Song for “It’s Hard Out Here for Pimp” from the movie Hustle and Flow. His debut album on Three 6 Mafia’s Hypnotize Minds label, Gone on that Bay, was released in 2003. He followed with two more albums for Hypnotize Minds, Me Being Me in 2005 and Da Key in 2008. In 2014 he appeared in Martin Shore’s film Take Me to the River in a collaboration with blues legend Bobby Rush.

sdietschy_300x300Sara Dietschy

A filmmaker and online personality, New Yorker Sara Dietschy creates inspiring video content for her self-titled YouTube channel that has 100,000 subscribers. Her passion for the creative community started with creating music videos for her high school band and now continues through daily vlogs and ongoing video series including Creative Spaces TV and That Creative Life, both of which aim to explain the where and how behind creative life.

panos-panay_300x300Panos Panay

Panos Panay ’94 is the founding managing director of Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, a passionate entrepreneur and active startup mentor in the creative media space, and the founder of Sonicbids, the leading platform for bands to book gigs and market themselves online. He led the company as CEO for 13 years, building a subscriber network of 550,000 bands and 35,000 promoters from more than 100 countries, until after its successful acquisition by Backstage LLC. He writes about startups and entrepreneurship for blogs and publications, and has been named to Inc. magazine’s “Inc. 500” and Fast Company’s “Fast 50.

asya-shein_300x300Asya Shein

Asya Shein – Founder and Publisher of FUSICOLOGY, The Source for Progressive Events, Music & Culture since 2003 aggregating event listings in 20 US cities along with exclusive content and music that define the Soul Diaspora. Working in the music business since the age of 15, as a promoter then later talent agent, Asya was born with music and an industrious spirit in her bones. As a Los Angeles-based new media, tech and music marketing entrepreneur, Shein keeps ahead of the curve of pop culture, and strives to stay fresh by introducing new sounds, events, and talent to an unsuspecting public.

syreeta-300x300Syreeta Thompson

Noted as one of the greatest instrumentalists and clinicians in music, Syreeta Thompson’s musical gifts prove to be both sincere and incomparable. The powerful trumpeter has managed to blaze through the gospel industry circuit by sharing the stage with many of its greatest icons, from the renowned Hezekiah Walker and the LFT Church Choir to the legendary Dorinda Clark-Cole. One of Thompson’s premier achievements to date is her role as the instrumental music coordinator for Clark-Cole’s Singers and Musicians Conference. Thompson is the department chair of middle school instrumental music for the Cicely Tyson School of Fine and Performing Arts in East Orange, New Jersey, and is currently at work on her ambitious sophomore project, Winner, scheduled for release in fall 2016.

Meet The 2016 Student Panel

angelinabotticelli_300x300Angelina Botticelli

Angelina Botticelli is a 16 year old sophomore vocalist at Boston Arts Academy. She has been a student in the Berklee City Music program since 4th grade and majored in drums before switching to vocal in the 9th grade. Aspiring singer songwriter, she has performed at places like The Sinclair, Club Passim, Paradise rock club, the Middle East, and many more. At the age of 12 Angelina released her first self titled EP and is now preparing to release “Emotions” the first EP from her band Wild Painting, set to be out later this year.

sarah-coelho_300x300Sarah Coelho

Sarah Coelho is a singer songwriter from Boston, MA. Since the age of 7, Sarah has been studying at a music non-profit called ZUMIX where she took lessons for voice, piano, drums, and bass. At the age of 9, Sarah enrolled in Berklee City Music where she still studies to this day. Now a Senior at the Boston Arts Academy, Sarah looks forward to studying at Berklee College of Music in the Fall of 2017. Performing as a solo artist and with her two bands, some highlight performances have been touring Europe, singing the national Anthem solo for the Red Sox and Celtics, and opening for Grammy winner, Sting.

moises-jacobo_300x300Moises Jacobo

Born in Mexico City, Moises moved to South Central Los Angeles at 3 months old with his family. As an aspiring artist and songwriter, Moises draws his inspiration from such artists as Party Next Door, James Brown, Usher, 112, The Temptations, and Boyz 2 Men. Through his music he hopes to bring a new fresh musical approach to creativity, sincerity and positivity. Moises has been a member of A Place Called Home for over 3 years and continues to support his community through various music initiatives that he hopes in turn will bring much needed love, hope, trust and unity to his community.

joshua-mcgregor_300x300Joshua McGregor

Joshua McGregor is an aspiring singer and songwriter from Brooklyn, NY. Since 2014, he has been an active member at The Door in NYC, where he accesses an array of comprehensive youth services. Joshua is part of the Vanguard Development Project (VDP), a young artist collective that has allowed him to further his passion for audio production and performance. He has performed in numerous venues throughout the City, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the NYC Pride March, and various City Council Youth Fairs. Joshua desires to pursue a career in the music industry that will allow him to travel, while further developing his business acumen.

For ticket information, click here. 

2016 Summit Countdown: Breakout Sessions Teaser

Music: A Medium for Student-Centered Youth Development 

Dr. Thomas Howard
  • Explore how a student-centered arts-based environment optimally
    uses music as the means for cognitive and non-cognitive engagement.
  • Encounter three dispositional mindset/belief systems
    for students and teachers which enhance student competencies with maximized transferability.
  • Inform the shaping of policy discussions, staff development, and the design of arts-based activities in-school and afterschool with particular emphasis on music programs

The Educational Jazz Band and Beyond: Where are the Girls?

Kelly Barr Klingon

This session will raise attendees’ awareness of a major equity problem in jazz education: gender disparities in student participation. Using examples from Seattle-area public schools, the presentation will survey the structural roots of these disparities as well as offer concrete suggestions for increasing young women’s participation in jazz within school and district music programs. Teachers, administrators, and arts organizations will be empowered to advance parity in their own programs.

Answering the question, “Why?”

Francis Graffeo
  • Confront the oddly tricky question: Why does my organization exist?
  • Hear from other leaders on how missions, vision, and values interact.
  • Advance your insight: What motivates your, and your organization’s, work?
  • Anticipate surprises from your constituents’ views on “Why?”. You will be surprised!
  • Solidify your own position on the question, with help thinking it through.
  • Organize your plan to address the issue with your constituents, community, and students.

“Keeping it Real” Engaging and Inspiring Your Classroom 

Joey & Josh Arreguin

Let’s have fun! The presentation will focus on key elements for engaging students in the classroom utilizing a variety of hands-on tools including technology, inspirational story-telling, current music industry happenings, music history and creative and fun interactive methods for learning. A key component will include utilizing PULSE as part of the educational process in the classroom.

To read more about our speakers and panelists, visit here.


2016 Summit Countdown: Things to do in Newark, NJ

If you are joining us for the 2016 Berklee City Music Summit at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, here are some activities to add to your trip itinerary.

Newark, NJ cityscape by night

What to see?

Where to dine?

Other NJPAC events?

For more events at the NJPAC, click here.