Joel Henigson is headed off to the Berklee College of Music with a little help from his friends. - Photo from Joel Henigson

Berklee bound

Joel Henigson is looking forward to a top-flight music education at a prestigious college and a new set of experiences, but before he leaves to immerse himself in the scholastic environment of contemporary music, he'll showcase his guitar talents for his hometown.

It wasn't long ago Henigson was a young man dreaming of a career in music and getting the opportunity to attend Berklee College of music. Henigson received his GED at age 16 and began attending Southern Oregon University, focusing mainly on music and the guitar.

During his time at SOU he played in numerous bands and played in local venues and for charitable events, while at the same time honing his classical and electric guitar chops and songwriting skills.

Henigson also performed at the 2005 Battle of the Bands, a local competition intended to showcase up-and-coming musicians from the area.

This year Henigson's dreams began to come true. After completing his second year at SOU, he was accepted to the Berklee College of Music.

"It was very exciting to be accepted, and it was a dream come true because it was always my hope to attend this exact school," Henigson says.

Not only was he accepted, but he was also awarded Berklee's songwriting scholarship for his original compositions.

The award will cover a sizable portion of the private school's tuition, which runs about $40,000 with room and board and mandatory fees.

Berklee College of Music was founded in 1945 in Boston and has earned a reputation as one of the premier contemporary music schools in the country.

Berklee is also the world's largest independent music college, boasting more than 400 faculty members with an annual enrollment of about 4,000 students.

In appreciation to the town and the people that nurtured his love of music, Henigson will be performing at a free concert at Dance Space, 280 E. Hersey St., No. 10, in Ashland.

The show begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, and will also feature blues guitarist Michael Hawkeye Hermann, recipient of the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive" award, and Jerry Attrick and the Pacemakers, a band known for their fun and danceable performances.

Henigson's set will include familiar favorites, both classical and popular, as well as originals that earned him a scholarship at Berklee.

Food will be served at the show and, while there is no charge for admission, donations will be accepted.

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