On February 26th, the prestigious Berklee College of Music held the inaugural Strayhorn Scholarship event as part of their 2024 Keys Fest. Keys Fest is the Berklee Piano Department’s annual festival of everything that can be done with a musical keyboard. 2024 included the Billy Strayhorn Scholarship winners for piano and composition, Kyle Takata (2023) and Mariia Kovalenko (2024). Kyle opened his set with a jazzy version of ‘A Flower is Lovesome Thing’, followed by a wonderful version of ‘Chelsea Bridge’, and ended with a collaboration of Kyle on piano and the 2024 recipient Mariia Kovalenko singing the Strayhorn classic, ‘Your Love Has Faded’. Mariia opened her set with a beautiful rendition of ‘Day Dream’, then closing out with a nice up tempo version of ‘Upper Manhattan Medical Group’ (UMMG). Both Kyle and Mariia treated the audience to versions of their own written material that proved to be unique and crowd pleasing. They were masterfully accompanied by band mates from Berklee.

Special thanks to the Assistant Professor of Piano Jason Yeager for collaborating with the Billy Strayhorn Foundation to provide this scholarship opportunity. Kudos also to the Berklee College of Music Piano Department for highlighting Billy Strayhorn at such a first class event. Known as one of the premier destinations for the study of contemporary music and the performing arts, Berklee is consistently rated as one of the top 5 music schools. You can find more information on Berklee at berklee.edu.