Berklee Students Use Their Musical Gifts to Fundraise for Japan

Article By: Lisa Occhino

In response to the recent tragedy in Japan, several concerned Berklee students have jumped to organize projects that will raise money to help the victims and their families in this desperate time of need. Two of the most ambitious projects have been spearheaded by Kylie Rothfield and Julian Weisser, who are both working tirelessly to organize, oversee, and promote their fundraising efforts to members of the Berklee community, Boston, and beyond.


Kylie Rothfield assembled a team of five Berklee student volunteers to help her put together a benefit concert titled “Stand with Japan.” Rothfield has put on six benefit concerts since middle school, so organizing an event to fundraise for Japan just felt natural to her. “When I heard about what happened in Japan, I was like, ‘I’m at Berklee, we could do something huge.’ I really believe that music and benefits go together,” says Rothfield.

Rothfield and her team were able to spread the word about the concert so widely that over 60 artists and bands auditioned for it. “I was expecting 15 or 20 people to audition, tops,” she explains. “We spent five or six hours reviewing the [audition] tapes because every single band was so good, and making the decisions killed us.”

I was personally very impressed with how well Rothfield managed to overcome some huge obstacles. “The most difficult thing was finding the venue,” she expresses. “We called about 120 venues – pretty much every place you can think of in Boston. Getting the cafeteria was the best thing that’s happened, because we were on our last string and didn’t know how we were going to have the concert.” For a while, she also found it difficult to manage the event planning along with classes, homework, and other commitments: “I canceled all my work shifts for a week, and I had to miss quite a few classes, but I’m back on track now and everything’s fine.”

Stand with Japan will be held on Sunday, May 1 in the Berklee cafeteria and is open to everyone. The festival will take place from noon to 7pm, where there will be food, live music, and various booths set up selling T-shirts and other items to boost the fundraising efforts. Then, from 9pm to 11pm, eight bands will be performing in the formal concert. While the day festivities are free admission, the concert at night costs $7 for college students and $10 for everyone else (in advance or at the door).

In addition, Boloco will be donating 15% of everything they make on Thursday, April 21 to the benefit concert.

All of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Japan Society of Boston. According to Rothfield, the charity sends their money directly to communities in Japan. She’s hoping to raise between $1,000 and $5,000, so please come out and support this great cause in any way you can!


Julian Weisser has also decided to pull from the vast pool of musical talent at Berklee to raise money for Japan, but instead of a benefit concert, he’s using it to put together a compilation. “Everybody is reading about what’s happening [in Japan] and watching it on the news, and it’s just a tragic and horrifying thing,” Weisser says. “Everybody wants to do something about it, but sometimes it’s hard if you really don’t know how you can help.”

Weisser and his team put out a request to all Berklee students and faculty to submit original songs for his compilation, Love Conquers All: Music for Japan. “The hardest part was just getting people to realize that it wasn’t a competition,” Weisser explains. “We just wanted to get people to submit something that they cared about to help raise money for Japan.”

According to Weisser, many artists responded to the project with the utmost enthusiasm. This sentiment is definitely reflected in the fact that over 35 artists and bands from the Berklee community will be featured on the release, and every one of them is doing their part to help promote it as much as possible. “Helicopria will be promoting the release at their caf show on Wednesday, [April 13], and Pinn Panelle will be doing the same at Club Church on Wednesday,” says Weisser. “We’re going to be at both shows – as well as Robert Gillies’ show at Wellesley College on Thursday and SpringFest on Saturday – selling the Bandcamp download codes for the compilation.”

With so many different states and countries being represented on this release, Weisser hopes that the artists spread the word not only in Boston, but also to their families, friends, and fans in their own hometowns. “When fundraising happens, it’s usually those strong connections that are the most influential in helping to raise money for charity,” Weisser explains. “As an artist, you have a fanbase, but as a group of artists, we have a big fanbase and we can spread the word better.”

The compilation is going to be released on Thursday, April 14 at 12:00am (midnight) on 100% of the funds will be donated to Save the Children’s relief efforts in Japan. Save the Children is among the highest ranking charities for financial responsibility in the world.