Berklee College of Music is a presence every year at FreshGrass, with students and faculty in its American Roots Music Program on stage, giving workshops, popping up in the galleries, and generally running wild all over the museum.

The artistic validity of a wide range of American roots styles — including blues, gospel, folk, early country music, bluegrass, old-time, Cajun, western swing, polka, Tex-Mex, and others — is beyond dispute. This music is the lifeblood of America’s cultural heritage. The expressive urgency and depth of these styles is supported by strong fundamental musical values, and it is in recognition of the richness of these idioms, and of the ways that they fuse with contemporary elements, that Berklee has created the American Roots Music Program.

Among its many projects, the American Roots Music Program produces concerts, hosts visiting artists, designs and implements curriculum, creates and hosts faculty development sessions, and designs and implements symposiums and seminars. Also, using a broader definition of the term “roots,” the program examines the core of what it means to be a musician in all idioms, and contemplates the roots of our western musical traditions, ranging from Bach to traditional African music.

The artistic director for the American Roots Music Program is Matt Glaser, who served as chair of Berklee’s String Department for 28 years.

“Berklee College of Music is a hotbed of musical revolution and change more reminiscent of the American Revolution than of the Boston Brahmins. In fact, Berklee is the largest college of music in the world, noted for its emphasis on contemporary American music. As of this year, former Berklee students have won 266 Grammy Awards. Those of us in the small, sometimes isolated world of bluegrass have become increasingly aware of the college’s influence.” – No Depression