World renowned music composer AR Rahman is going to get a royal treat of his own music. Come 24 October and the maestro will witness a multi-cultural ensemble rendering his hit musical numbers on stage. The occasion will be the conferring of a Honorary Doctorate on Rahman by the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Listed as the World’s Most Influential People in 2009 by Time Magazine, Rahman will visit the Berklee College of Music on 24 October under the Berklee India Exchange, a new initiative co-founded by two Indian/Berklee alumnus, Annette Philip and Clint Valladares as a platform for cultural conversation.
Berklee Faculty and students from the Berklee Indian Ensemble will pay tribute to the living legend, who will join them on select pieces in a concert (AR Rahman Meets Berklee: Festival of Lights) celebrating his music and life at Boston’s Symphony Hall. In honour of Rahman’s new relationship with the college, a scholarship in his name will be established to help bring students from India to Berklee. All proceeds from the October 24 concert will go toward this scholarship fund. In addition to the performance, Rahman will conduct a master class at the Berklee Performance Center.
Boston’s Berklee College of Music is world’s largest independent college of contemporary music and to date, 100 Berklee alumni have received 239 Grammy Awards. Annette Philip also founded the Berklee Indian Ensemble in 2011, one of largest and most diverse ensembles at the college, with members representing 37 countries. The ensemble performs an expansive repertoire of Indian classical, semi-classical, folk, Sufi, and contemporary Indo-jazz music.
On 15 October, the Berklee Indian Ensemble released a cover of Rahman’s Jiya Jale from Dil Se, as a tribute for his immense contribution to redefining contemporary Indian film music during his notable career spanning two decades. The video has already gone viral and can arguably be one of Rahman’s best covers ever done.
According to the college’s website, at the concert and degree conferral, a 60-piece Berklee student and faculty ensemble will honor Rahman’s musical legacy, which not only includes distinguished soundtracks and film scores, but also compositions for the 2012 Olympic Games and collaborations with Mick Jagger, Michael Bolton, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Will.i.am. Rahman is familiar to the international audiences for his original scores and songs in Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Million Dollar Arm.
“I’m deeply moved to receive an honorary doctorate from such a distinguished school which has contributed so much to the world of music,” said Rahman. “I’m especially proud and honored the college is graciously establishing a scholarship in my name for future generations of musicians to follow their dreams.”
“A friend from India described AR Rahman to me as John Williams and Sting rolled into one – a leading film composer and a wildly popular, brilliant songwriter and performer,” said Berklee president Roger H Brown. “We welcome him to Berklee, where the college and our students look forward to paying our respects.”