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Newton man travels to Turkey to audition young musicians

Newton resident Bobbie Steinbach performs as St. Peter in “Wicked John and the Devil’’ as part of “The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice,’’ through next Sunday at the Sanders Theatre. Newton resident Bobbie Steinbach performs as St. Peter in “Wicked John and the Devil’’ as part of “The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice,’’ through next Sunday at the Sanders Theatre.
(Roger Ide)
By Cindy Cantrell
December 20, 2009

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STAR SEARCH: Newton resident Michael Farquharson (inset) estimates he has traveled to visit family in his wife’s homeland of Turkey about 20 times. A different mission, however, inspired his most recent visit: auditioning young musicians for admission to Berklee College of Music.

Farquharson, a professor in Berklee’s contemporary writing and production department, said a surge in demand prompted the addition of a third day of auditions to accommodate a total of 75 aspiring musicians in Istanbul last month. During the 10-day trip, Farquharson also led a record-production lecture and bass guitar performance clinic to standing-room-only audiences.

The events were hosted by Modern Muzik Akademisi in Istanbul. Other participants included Stephen Croes, dean of Berklee’s music technology division; Michael Shaver, assistant director of international admissions; Sam Skau, assistant director of educational operations for international programs; and Berklee student ambassadors Emir Cerman and Burak Besir, both of whom are from Turkey.

According to Farquharson, the trip was aimed at increasing Berklee’s base of Turkish alumni while promoting awareness of the college to the dozens of music schools in Istanbul. The auditions were part of Berklee’s first visit to Turkey, in conjunction with its World Scholarship Tour, through which $20 million in scholarships are distributed to students from more than 40 cities worldwide each year.

“I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality and enthusiasm of the musicians, and also how some have incorporated Eastern music with Western music,’’ said Farquharson, who earlier this year traveled to Russia, Canada, Ireland, and Los Angeles through the World Scholarship Tour. “It was really fun.’’

CLASS NOTES: Leonard Green (inset), an adjunct professor at Babson College in Wellesley, is known for the unique teaching techniques he demonstrates in his entrepreneurship and family business classes.

He may teach while reclining on the floor, or leave the room as the number of students in a discussion increases. Each week, two teams must supply enough refreshments for their 50 classmates using business and negotiation skills instead of money. There are a minimal number of readings or lectures, but rather real-life case studies are presented by the entrepreneurs who lived them.

This fall, for the first time, Green integrated a social entrepreneurship program, encouraging his students to teach their new skills to younger students. Seven participants from Gavin Middle School in South Boston recently traveled to Babson College to present business plans to the college students who had been working with them for 10 weeks.

Their businesses would enable shoppers to design their own clothes; provide a forum for police officers, firefighters, and others to create and exhibit art expressing pent-up emotions; and encourage reading through a device that allows people to read a few chapters, watch a movie at that point in the story, and then return to reading.

In another project this semester, Green’s students raised more than $20,000 through entrepreneurial ventures relating to their participation in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They also created and presented a dozen videos designed to inspire other college groups to support Dana-Farber.

“I am very proud to be a teacher who is involved with the kind of students we have at Babson,’’ said Green, a New Jersey resident who is chief executive officer of the Green Group, which consists of 14 businesses and charities. “I am a firm believer that entrepreneurship can be the moving force and the living force to solve the social problems that we have.’’

MINOR LEAGUE: During the three years he lived in Worcester between college and law school in the 1970s, Con Chapman (inset) always thought it would be the perfect place for a minor league baseball team. In the Weston author’s new book, “CannaCorn,’’ Chapman writes about baseball and race in America as it relates to the fictional Worcester Quahogs.

Chapman, who also has a law practice in Boston, previously wrote “The Year of the Gerbil: How the Yankees Won (and the Red Sox Lost) the Greatest Pennant Race Ever,’’ a history of the 1978 baseball season.

CHRISTMAS REVELS: Several local residents are performing in “The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice,’’ which runs through next Sunday at the Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.

The annual Revels production’s musicians and chorus members include Naomi Edelman of Watertown; Jake Zane of Wayland; Frank Drake and Lynne Beasley of Brookline; Ben Soule and Hamish Swanson of Lexington; Eden MacAdam-Somer and Larry Unger of Lincoln; Arlington residents Jacob Kiely-Song, Nicole Haas-Loomis, Julia Bloom, Corinne Boet-Whitaker, and Richard Taylor; Newton residents Bobbie Steinbach, August Williams, and Honor Williams; and Belmont residents Mac Howland, Silas Howland, Scott Baker, Kimberly Carlisle, Joshua Mackay-Smith, James Mailhot, Melissa Penkethman, Chris Ripman, Mayhew Seavey, Victoria Thatcher, and Grace Curtis. The stage director is Patrick Swanson of Lexington.

The event will feature holiday carols, Appalachian folksong, clogging and fiddling, the Jonkonnu (an African-American Christmas celebration with dancing, drumming, and disguise costumes), Shaker tunes and dances, Native American music, stories, and poetry.

For tickets, call 617-496-2222 or go to www.revels.org.

GIFT OF SONG: Newton resident Martell Spagnolo, a doctorate of ministry student at the Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, was recently honored as the inaugural recipient of the school’s Paul W. Wiggin (inset) Gift of Song scholarship. The scholarship was established to honor Newton resident Wiggin (inset), a lyric tenor who founded the Music Serving Elders program 35 years ago to benefit elders in nursing homes and other underserved audiences.

People items may be sent to Cindy Cantrell at cantrell@globe.com.