Berklee NYC Honors Class of 2023 at Lincoln Center
The Berklee NYC program celebrated its second-ever class of graduate students at the 2023 commencement ceremony, which took place July 2 at the historic Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Stephen Webber, executive director and dean of strategic initiatives for Berklee NYC, conferred degrees to 78 scholars representing 18 countries from around the world. Students were recognized for earning a one-year degree for Master of Arts in creative media and technology, specializing in either songwriting and production (49 graduates), writing and design for musical theater (16 graduates), and live experience design (13 graduates).
Grammy Award–nominated multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter, and Berklee alum Louis Cato ’04 delivered the commencement speech, emphasizing the importance of building and engaging with a supportive community of peers and artists. Cato has worked with an array of impressive performers since his education at Berklee, including Bobby McFerrin, Snarky Puppy, Jon Batiste, Q-Tip, and A Tribe Called Quest. In August 2022, Cato was named the bandleader of the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, having played with them since 2015.
“My Berklee experience was a big turning point in my life,” reflected Cato during his address. “People often ask me: ‘what was the most important thing you learned there?’ My answer is simple: relationships. I learned how to connect with like-spirited individuals, how to navigate the complexities of working with friends, and how to learn and grow in the ways that can only happen through those relationships.”
The artistry of the 2023 class was on full display at the Power Station Stars Berklee 2023 commencement concert, held at the Power Station at Berklee NYC on June 30 and July 1. The event included two simultaneous concerts in Power Station's historic Studio A and the new Black Box Theater. The performances featured original songs from the graduating students and showcased contributions from across all degree specializations, reflecting an eclectic mix of genre, styles, instrumentation, and production.
Webber, an Emmy Award–winning composer, musician, producer, and engineer who helped raise over $30 million for a public-private partnership to create Berklee NYC, welcomed attendees with opening remarks to kick off the commencement ceremony, later followed by Daniel Pembroke, electronic music artist and interim program director of Live Experience Design, who spoke on behalf of the Berklee NYC faculty. Michelle Rocqet, who earned a degree with a specialization in writing and design for musical theater, delivered remarks on behalf of the graduating class.
“I’m convinced that students in this cohort will be making waves in the international music arena,” said Webber of the graduating scholars. “The work they’ve created this year is nothing short of miraculous—cutting edge, emotionally compelling, and both personal and universal. Hearing from Daniel [Pembroke] is the perfect experience for these newly-minted alumni. His career is an inspiration for many of them because he was in their shoes not that long ago.”