The first stone of what will be the first European center of Boston's Berklee College of Music has been laid in the Spanish Mediterranean city of Valencia.

With 4,000 students and 500 teachers, Berklee has become the world's biggest center of music and music business study since it was founded in 1945. Berklee Valencia, which will cost around €95 million ($128.3 million), is a joint venture between BCM and Spain's 91,300-member authors and publishers collecting society SGAE, with the full backing of the Valencia regional government in eastern Spain.

The Oct. 16 foundation-stone ceremony was hosted by Berklee president Roger H. Brown, SGAE executive president Eduardo 'Teddy' Bautista, Valencia regional chief minister Francisco Camps, and Valencia city mayoress Rita Barbara. The event closed with an on-site concert led by vibraphone player Gary Burton, a five-times Grammy winner and former Berklee executive VP.

The 27-story Berklee Valencia will open for studies in Sept. 2011 with a capacity of 1,000 students, of which 200 will be student teachers from the United States. The 65,000 square meter so-called Tower of Music will include recording and post-production studios, a concert hall for 1,000 people, rehearsal studios, a multi-media center, a shopping mall for music products, an open-air concert space for up to 10,000 fans, and housing for students and staff.

"This is our biggest step since Berklee's foundation in 1945," said Larry Monroe, BCM VP for international programs at the Valencia site. "Some 20 years ago, we began setting up little satellite schools around Europe, but Valencia will be Berklee's big entry into Europe.”

The Berklee Valencia degree and post-graduate study plan will cover five main areas: music for cinema and integrated media; electronic design and production; international music and entertainment management; music band studies; and Mediterranean basin music studies (embracing Spain, France, Italy, north Africa, Greece, Turkey, Balkan region, the Lebanon, Syria and Israel).

Brown told the 200 ceremony guests: "Berklee Valencia will be as powerful in 21st century music as BCM was in 20th century music, with a full music technology program covering music production for TV, film and other audio-visual channels, and music studies dedicated to genres from Spain and Latin music, Africa, the Middle and Far East, eastern Europe."

Brown said many areas had been considered to house the first BCM outside the U.S., including China and India, but finally Valencia was chosen "because of its [Mediterranean] climate, [Spain's] progressive leadership, and Valencia's famous dish 'paella', which is a perfect blend of many ingredients, as all good music should be."

Former BCM students include Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Donald Fagen, Gary Burton, Branford Marsalis, Melissa Etheridge, Steve Vai and the Dominican Republic's multi-Grammy winning Latin star Juan Luis Guerra. It costs about $36,500 to study at the Boston center.