Academy Award-Winning Composer A.R. Rahman to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Berklee

By 
Liz Lupton
July 16, 2014
A.R. Rahman will receive an honorary doctorate and perform at Symphony Hall with Berklee students and faculty on October 24, 2014.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

World renowned film composer A.R. Rahman, best known for the original scores and songs from films such as Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Million Dollar Arm, will receive an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music. At a concert celebrating his career on October 24, 2014 at Symphony Hall, students and faculty will perform songs paying tribute to his distinguished work with Rahman performing alongside them for select pieces. In addition to the performance, Rahman will conduct a master class at the Berklee Performance Center.

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He will also explore the college’s new, state-of-the-art film scoring studios, where he will connect with students in their learning environment. Rahman will be joined by three Berklee alumni instrumental to his career: guitarist and film composer Prasanna ‘99, who will perform at Symphony Hall, musical director Kevin Doucette ‘99, and manager Andrew Flad ‘99. In honor of Rahman’s new relationship with Berklee, the college will establish a scholarship in his name to help bring students from India to Berklee. All proceeds from the October 24 concert will go toward this scholarship fund.

“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 A.R. 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.”

Watch members of the Berklee community share their favorite Rahman song:


At the concert and degree conferral on October 24, a 60-piece Berklee student and faculty ensemble will honor Rahman’s two-decades-long 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. Hailed by Time magazine as “the world’s most prolific and popular composer,” the two-time Academy Award-winner, two-time Grammy Award-winner, Golden Globe Award-winner, and BAFTA Award-winner is being recognized for his achievements and international influence as a film composer and musician. Past honorary doctorate recipients include Jimmy Page, Annie Lennox, Willie Nelson, John Williams, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Sting, Howard Shore ‘69, Clint Eastwood, Alan Silvestri ‘70, Amar G. Bose, and Gloria Estefan.

Rahman’s visit comes in conjunction with the Berklee India Exchange, a new endeavor aiming to connect Berklee students of all nationalities with successful players in the flourishing Indian entertainment industry. The Berklee India Exchange launched in 2013 with a residency by famed Bollywood composer and pop music star Clinton Cerejo.

More about A. R. Rahman:

A two-time Academy Award winning composer, A. R. Rahman has helped redefine contemporary Indian music. He has sold more than 150 million albums featuring music from more than 100 film soundtracks across many languages, including scores for films such as Slumdog Millionaire127 Hours, Couples Retreat, Jodhaa Akbar, and Million Dollar Arm, among many others. Rahman has been bestowed with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, two of India’s highest national civilian honors, in recognition of his contributions to music. In 2009, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Rahman recently announced initiatives to establish a tradition in western classical music in India and embarked on an ambitious venture to set up the KM Music Conservatory and the KM Music Symphony Orchestra based out of Chennai, India. He plans to provide a platform for non-mainstream music through his music label, KM Musiq.

Liz Lupton is a publicist in the Office of Media Relations. Media inquiries: llupton@berklee.edu.