South Charlotte

4 neighbors end up at 1 great music school

Berklee College of Music, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is a world-renowned school for exceptionally talented young musicians who wish to pursue a career in the music industry.

Its student body of 4,131 students hails from over 80 countries, with the top five countries represented being Korea, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Italy.

Given the specialized nature of the school's curriculum and the musical prowess required of its applicants, the odds of having four Berklee students hail from the same neighborhood are tremendous. Defying those odds are Berklee students Luke Campolieta, Stefan Kallander, Charles McCanless and Sean Trainor, all of whom live in Providence Plantation.

Charles McCanless, 25, the oldest of the four Providence Plantation Berklee students, began taking guitar lessons at Streetwise Guitar in Indian Trail during his freshman year at Providence High School.

"I jammed and played music daily," McCanless said. But he was also captain of the Providence High swim team. He ended up accepting a swimming scholarship to East Carolina University, but he continued to play his guitar and even recorded an album with his band.

When his band split up after his ECU graduation, he knew he wanted to pursue music and play guitar for a living, "so I decided to study at one of the best music schools in the country."

Luke Campolieta, 22, is also a Providence High graduate and a guitar player.

He first heard about Berklee, where he is in his last year, through online forums for musicians.

Campolieta's older brother was a guitar performance major at Winthrop University, but what Campolieta particularly appreciated about Berklee was its emphasis on current music and the array of industry jobs held by its alumni.

Knowing his neighbor, Stefan Kallander, 22, was already at Berklee gave Campolieta "a great sense of relief. I knew I could go to him if I had any problems."

Kallander, who lives across the street from Campolieta in Providence Plantation, graduated from Charlotte Catholic High School.

He began playing music in middle school and high school bands, playing the trombone but switching to the guitar after taking lessons in high school.

Once he started writing original music, he said, "I knew this is what I wanted to do for a living."

The contemporary nature of Berklee's studies was also a draw for him, as was the emphasis on transitioning from music student to music professional.

"I felt like I could truly grow and learn about anything and everything I wanted to there," Kallander said, "especially the music business, since I am the sole booking agent, manager and publicist for my band."

Sean Trainor, who just graduated from Providence High last year, is the latest Providence Plantation musician to head to Berklee.

"It is a dream to go there," Trainor said, "because Berklee is one in a million." Trainor first learned about the school from his guitar instructor, a Berklee alumnus.

His principal instrument is piano and he plans to major in contemporary music and production.

What Trainor most appreciates about Berklee is how much talent surrounds him.

"In Charlotte," he said, "we were all big fish in a small pond, and now all those big fish are together."