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'Tiger Wizard,' an AHS grad, drums up a future

Julian Carpenter, Berklee drummer./ Liam Garcia photoJulian Carpenter, Berklee drummer. / Liam Garcia photo

Musician Julian Carpenter, a 2019 Arlington High School grad, aims to feel the beat of the big time as he is among the performers at the Lollapalooza Festival, four days of sounds in Chicago that runs from rap to electro pop and indie to pop-punk.  

The Berklee School of Music senior on Friday, July 29, was the drummer backing up AIIDA, a pop/R&B artist and singer-songwriter from Norway.


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 The appearance at Lollapalooza is part of the Berklee Popular Music Institute, an innovative class at the college that brings students and Berklee-affiliated acts to major North American music festivals. 

Asked about his local musical influences, Carpenter spread the credit broadly:

“The springboard for my musical success was the devoted educators within Arlington’s vibrant music program,” he wrote in response to a series of questions.

First was Paula Demitrio, when he attended Ottoson and played in the middle school jazz band.

'Many other mentors'

At AHS, the town native “had many other mentors. Among others, they included John Ditomasso, in charge of electronic music; and Sabatino “Tino” D’Agostino, leading the band and orchestra.

A lot of his growth as a multi-instrumentalist in popular music stemmed from studies with such instructors Jesse Williams, Ramona Borthwick, Matt Burwell and Henrique De Almeida. “All of these teachers provided me numerous opportunities to arrange and direct live shows, which helped me become the musical director and arranger that I am today,” he wrote.

He played drums for 11 years, but he also plays piano. “Having skills on both instruments has enabled me to music direct and arrange shows for artists while also playing drums” -- what he’ll be doing for AIIDA at Lollapalooza.

Asked about the kinds of music that most engage him, he responded: “Any danceable music with a heavy back beat and a catchy melody.”

As to the teachers who inspire him there, he noted Jackie Santos, Lee Abe, Simone Scazzocchio, Dave DiCenso, George Russel Jr., Tia Fuller and Paula Gallitano.

After college?

Where does he want to go after Berklee?

“I will continue my career in Los Angeles, arranging for pop, R&B and rock artists. I also want to continue my compositional career, writing fusion music as 'The Tiger Wizard,' and I want to continue learning about music from all over the world.”

Learn more about Carpenter's nom de plume >> and listen here >>  

“My favorite moment is when I’m on a big stage looking out onto a big audience and they’re dancing and singing along to the music that we’re playing,” he wrote. “Then, I realize that my true happiness in that moment actually stems from the love that’s shared between me and the people that I am playing with.” 

Popular-music program

Tori Donohue, a publicist for the school, says that the popular-music initiative aims to guide students through every step of going from the classroom to the stage — important preparation for a performance career.

While most Berklee classes take place over the course of one semester, the program runs on a three-semester, full-year cycle. In the fall semester, the class selects the artists and splits up into management teams.

In the spring, students work on artist development, marketing, digital presence, budgets, merchandise, sponsorships and advancing their assigned festival. For the final semester, in the summer and early fall, teams rehearse with the artists to prepare them for the festival stage—a much different experience than a club show—and accompany them to each festival to handle on-site promotion, production and tour management.

It appears to be launching pad for Carpenter.


June 9, 2021: Behind the Kusiaks' background music


This news feature  was published Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

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