EDMAR NOÉ COLÓN GIERBOLINI
Saxophonist and Composer
Heritage: Puerto Rican
Presidential Scholar at the Berklee College of Music
Selected to be a part of Berklee's prestigious Global Jazz Institute
By: Frank Morris
Edmar Noé Colón Gierbolini was in seventh grade when he picked up the saxophone for the first time.
“And then I knew. Before all this, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was really determined, but then I thought, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to be an astronaut anymore.’ It’s almost like music found me.”
The 24-year-old came to Boston from Puerto Rico in 2010 to start school at the Berklee College of Music. It’s a school he knew he wanted to attend since he was 15.
“I came here in 2007, 2008, 2009, for performance programs and started becoming acquainted with the college and with Boston. I fell in love with it,” he said.
Colón Gierbolini - who not only plays the sax, but also composes, writes and arranges music- says Boston has had a tremendous influence on his development,.
“The creative process is very important, and one of the most important things is diversity. This city is so diverse,” he said. “I use that as an example of how we learn about cultures and how to become more sensitive of our surroundings. Being here, I learned about music a lot, but also how to be a better human being every day.”
Colón Gierbolini graduated with his bachelor’s in performance and classical composition in 2015 and received his master’s degree this past summer. While at Berklee, he was part of the esteemed Berklee Global Jazz Insitute, which afforded Colón Gierbolini the chance to travel across the country and the globe.
“It’s not just music for entertainment’s sake. We play in prisons, nursing homes, children's hospitals. We’ve travel to Africa. We went to play and have a cultural exchange, but also to bring music as a tool for social change. It can really bring people together and raise awareness of things that are a problem in our society,” Colón Gierbolini said.
“I see how young kids, underprivileged kids from rough neighborhoods, literally go from having a weapon in their hands to having an instrument in their hands. Even if they do not become composers in the future, their lives change."
Colón Gierbolini has toured and played at jazz festivals in places including Detroit, Puerto Rico, the Domincan Republic, Panama, Montreal, and Calif. He has recorded on records of artists such as Joaquin Sabina and Juan Manuel Serrat and performed with musicians like Joe Lovano, John Patittucci, Danilo Pérez, Hal Crook, Miguel Zenón and Kenny Werner.
"Music can bring the best out of you and the worst out of you,” he said. “All these things are very empowering. If you don’t think about things like giving and being compassionate, all those things can lead to arrogance. So, in 10 years, I see myself doing the same thing I’m doing right now, which is playing music and writing music, and to play with more unity and less separation."