Berklee Honors Four Celebrated Artists at Alumni Achievement Awards
Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee recognized four graduates at the annual Alumni Achievement Awards, held on March 30 at the Westin Copley Place. Receiving the honor for 2023: Amie Doherty M.M. ’13, Tommy Torres B.M. ’93, Quinton Morris B.M. ’04, and Courtney Harrell B.M. ’01. The honorees join a list of 150 Berklee alumni who have earned this award.
Doherty became the first female composer to score a DreamWorks animated feature film with the 2021 release of Spirit Untamed. Since graduating from the Berklee Valencia’s scoring for film, television, and video games program, she has racked up a number of credits as a composer, orchestrator, and conductor, including the Emmy Award–nominated documentary Light in the Water, Lady Gaga's Grammy Award–nominated 2020 album Chromatica, and DreamWorks Animation’s short film Marooned, for which she won Best Score for an Animated Short at the 2019 Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
“To have the name Berklee attached to me has always meant so much to me,” said Doherty. “It was a pipe dream of epic proportions growing up. To be here to represent the Valencia campus…[our class] was the first year, and it was the best year of my life.”
Torres has been one of the most sought-after producers and songwriters in Latin pop for decades. From Ricky Martin to Alejandro Sanz to Daddy Yankee, Torres has worked with dozens of notable artists in his nearly 30-year career, along the way earning multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards and being named Hot Latin Tracks Producer of the Year by Billboard magazine and Composer of the Year by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). In 2021 he collaborated with superstar Bad Bunny, cowriting and coproducing the album El Playlist de Anoche.
“I still feel like I’m getting away with something that’s kind of like a dream,” said Torres, recounting his time at Berklee and his career. “I’m so grateful to Berklee. I came as a blank slate, and everything I know as far as music, production, and engineering I learned here.”
An accomplished concert violinist, educator, filmmaker, and entrepreneur, Boston Conservatory at Berklee graduate Quinton Morris is a multifaceted talent. The director of chamber and instrumental music and assistant professor of music at Seattle University, Morris is only the second living African American violinist to receive a tenured professorship in U.S. history. Morris is also the founder of Key to Change, a nonprofit providing music instruction to underserved youth and students of color in his native Washington State, and he has received numerous accolades, including the Governor’s Arts Award for his success with the documentary film The Breakthrough.
“My career could have never happened without coming here,” said Morris. “I am so appreciative to the people at Berklee who believed in me, who saw me as a person and valued my opinions. They passed on so many things that I can now pass on to so many countless other people.”
Courtney Harrell joined the cast of The Voice in 2016 and wowed judges with her moving performance of “Let It Go.” It was her first time singing publicly in 15 years. Harrell had been making her mark in the industry as a songwriter long before that moment, penning songs for Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, and Mary J. Blige, among many others. She returned to the small screen again as a coach on The Four: Battle for Stardom, and she is currently a casting director on America’s Got Talent, where Berklee students and other hopefuls have had their opportunity to shine on a national stage.
“I started here at Berklee at 15,” said Harrell. “I grew up in this school, and I keep coming back because [without Berklee] I would not be doing what I’m doing. Any time I have an opportunity to come home and say ‘thank you,’ and pour into the next generation of musicians, I do it.”
The honored guests spent the day sharing their experiences with students and faculty before at a preshow reception at the Westin Copley Place and had a chance to address attendees during their acceptance speeches. Boston Conservatory at Berklee Interim Executive Director Lucinda Carver offered high praise to the alumni in the opening remarks at the top of the ceremony.
A special musical tribute capped off the evening, as the Berklee House Band performed an original work by director, arranger, and award-winning screen scoring student April DiDomenico, who led the ensemble through a piece that represented the careers of all four honorees.
The award recipients will remain in Boston for Berklee’s Career Jam, taking place on campus the Friday, March 31, where they will participate in various seminars geared toward professional development.