The Berklee College of Music and the nation of Gabon are teaming up to create a pan-African music school in the capital of Libreville, expanding the Boston institution’s global network of educational partners.
Berklee’s president, Roger Brown, signed a memorandum of understanding with Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo Ondimba. Construction of the school could begin early next year, and the facility is expected to open in September 2017, Berklee officials said.
The African Music Institute will be part of Berklee’s International Network, which has 19 sites in 18 countries. The institute plans to teach contemporary popular music, traditional African music, and African dance to 300 students, who will move on to study at Berklee’s Boston campus after two years at Libreville.
“Our mission statement acknowledges the unique role of the African cultural diaspora in the major musical styles underlying our curriculum, including jazz, blues, R&B, rock, gospel, Latin, and hip-hop,” Brown said in a statement. “With this new school and more students coming to Boston from Africa, we’ll have a direct line right to the source.”
Gabon is located on the west coast of Central Africa. It has an area of nearly 270,000sq km (100,000 sq mi) and its population is estimated at 1.5 million people. Low population density, abundant petroleum, and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the 4th highest Human Development Index (HDI) and the third highest GDP per capita in the region.