A Strong Showing
In November 2013, The Hollywood Reporter published its roster of the “Industry’s Top Music Schools.” Berklee was ranked number one on a list that included such renowned institutions as Juilliard, University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, California Institute of the Arts, Curtis, and the Royal College of Music in London. Based on a survey of entertainment industry insiders, they ranked the top 10 schools in terms of the talent from each school working in the L.A. music industry. It indicates the industry’s perception of each school and its impact in this major market.
One key ingredient that contributes to Berklee’s strong alumni presence in Los Angeles is a tangible sense of community. This is evident in the alumni-to-alumni sharing of opportunities and the prevalence of established alumni hiring recent graduates. It’s reflected in the alumni who represent the college as members of professional groups and societies within their career fields. In the world of composers and songwriters, one example of this is the Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL).
The SCL was formed in Los Angeles in 1983, and the list of inaugural members included such icons as Henry Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, David Raksin, and Quincy Jones. Over the past two decades, Berklee alumni have had a growing presence in this society—often in leadership roles among their peers. The membership now numbers more than 1,000, with chapters in Los Angeles and New York.
The organization presents special recognition awards each year, and Berklee was well represented among the 2013 honorees. In December, Film Scoring Chair George S. Clinton was named an SCL ambassador by the New York Chapter, along with fellow composer Mark Snow. The SCL Ambassador Award was created to recognize a select group of composers and lyricists whose valuable contributions have helped establish the ultimate standard for future generations of media composers and songwriters. This elite group includes such legends as Burt Bacharach, Johnny Mandel, Dave Grusin, Earle Hagen, and James Newton Howard.
The four honorees at the SCL Los Angeles holiday party included alumni Alan Silvestri ’70 and Sharon Farber ’97, along with Bill Conti and Randy Newman. Silvestri was honored as an SCL ambassador, while Farber received the Emerging Composer Award as the capacity audience—including numerous Berklee alumni—celebrated their achievements. Discussions are under way for expanded collaborations between the Berklee Film Scoring program, its alumni, and the SCL. Stay tuned.
Peter Gordon ’78 is Director of Berklee Center in L.A.