For touring musicians, online education is vital. Lessons can be viewed on a laptop screen on an airplane, a tour bus, or backstage at a gig. For Erini Tornesaki, Berklee Online allows her to continue her studies while she’s on the road with Cirque du Soleil. Born and raised in Greece then later attending school in the UK, Erini’s resume includes work with Jona Lewie, Saw Doctors, Barry Manilow, Amy Winehouse’s backing band, Yannis Economides, Dimitri Vassilakis, and more. She is earning a professional certificate in songwriting with Berklee Online.
Currently touring with the production Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, Erini plays ‘Chanteuse de la Rue.’ Inspired by the legendary French vocalist Edith Piaf, Chanteuse de la Rue is Kurios‘ sole vocalist and wears a gramophone on her head, a gift given to her by a rich young man who had been mesmerized by her voice. Kurios begins its Chicago run on August 6 and will visit Costa Mesa and Los Angeles, California before the year’s end. I caught Erini in a rare free moment via email to learn more about her work with Cirque du Soleil and why Berklee Online fits so well into her busy schedule.
Kayley Kravitz: How did you discover Berklee Online? Would you recommend the school to other touring musicians?
Erini Tornesaki: I have always known about Berklee College of Music and I found the online school on berklee.edu. For a touring musician, musical development and self-teaching may appear challenging. Studying online is a great way to keep learning while on tour, when you are lacking the physical environment of a music institute or the consistency of a teacher due to constant relocation. It motivates me to practice daily and makes me feel like part of a community. The guidance of my experienced instructors is very valuable.
You’re currently singing in a Cirque du Soleil production, Kurios. Can you tell me what that’s like and how you were cast as Chanteuse de la Rue?
Erini Tornesaki: I auditioned for Cirque Du Soleil in London, UK when I was still in college. A year later, I received the offer for the position in Kurios, so I joined the creation of the show in Montreal in 2014 and then started touring across North America. Singing for Cirque Du Soleil has been an incredible experience so far. I wear a cool costume with a gramophone on my head and I had to learn to do my own make-up. I sing nine to ten shows per week and I am the only singer in our show, which means I have to try my hardest to maintain my voice and keep healthy. It’s a challenging lifestyle, but very rewarding and absolutely worth it.
What are some of the most important lessons that you’ve learned from studying songwriting with Berklee Online?
Erini Tornesaki: What I have learned is that the more you write, the better you become. I learned not to be too judgmental about my work, and keep up with the daily practice without worrying about the result. The material is very well organized and the courses give you tools that you can utilize to create songs, even if you’re not initially inspired, which happens to everyone.