Berklee to Hold Inauguration of President Erica Muhl in April

Muhl is the fourth—and first female—president of Berklee.

March 14, 2023

Berklee is pleased to announce the inauguration of Erica Muhl, DMA, as Berklee’s fourth president on Tuesday, April 4, at 11:00 a.m., at MGM Music Hall at Fenway in Boston. The inauguration will feature several celebratory events, beginning with a performance by the Berklee Inauguration Symphony Orchestra on April 3 at Symphony Hall. The inauguration ceremony on the morning of April 4 will be followed that evening by students performing the Great American Songbook: Girl on Fire—The Music of Alicia Keys at MGM Music Hall at Fenway. Event details are included below.

“Since taking office, President Muhl has led the institution through an unprecedented time and has implemented bold new programs and initiatives to enhance the student experience while also advancing Berklee as a world-class leader in performing arts education,” said Martin J. Mannion, chair of the Berklee Board of Trustees and Presidential Search Committee. “The committee’s primary goal was to find the most qualified leader to continue Berklee’s evolution and build upon its tremendous history, and we found the right person in Erica Muhl.” 

“It’s been an incredible experience working with this dynamic community over the last 20 months. The inaugural events will be a showcase of Berklee’s artistic and creative excellence, and a celebration of the significant milestones already achieved by an extraordinary leadership team and all in our community who work so diligently on behalf of our students,” said Muhl. “I am thrilled that this moment can provide public recognition for so many at Berklee, including large numbers of student and faculty performers, speakers, and emcees whose talents will be highlighted throughout.” 

Muhl made history when she became the first female president of Berklee in July of 2021. Under her leadership, significant institution-wide progress is already taking place:

  • Muhl entered Berklee at the height of the pandemic, navigating the institution to the close of a highly successful first year that included a number of key leadership hires, effective management of complex and evolving community safety and health protocols, and the launch of several major initiatives. 
  • A pioneering holistic approach to student care, the Student Experience Innovation Project, was successfully launched in its pilot phase in fall 2022. Now called the Berklee Bridge, the project resulted in a fully coordinated network of personalized student services, systems, and resources that allow for highly individualized care of our students, ranging across academic success, mental and physical health and well-being, financial services, accessibility services, and much more. It includes an innovative Student Success Advising model designed to resolve a wide array of student concerns, such as finding a medical provider, addressing food or housing insecurity, or navigating a difficult personal matter.
  • The acquisition and renovation of the 12 Hemenway building, strategically located at the heart of Berklee’s Boston campus, will provide much needed additional housing for students, and new and fully accessible collaborative work and creative spaces for students and faculty. 
  • The expansion of Berklee's campus in Valencia, Spain, begins this spring as the first stage in realizing the strategic potential of a new long-term agreement with the City of Arts and Sciences and the regional government of Valencia. The expansion will increase instructional capacity by more than 40 percent, allowing for the development of new offerings that will align education and professional partnerships with both the strengths and needs of communities across Valencia, Spain, and the EU.

Additionally, Muhl has launched Berklee’s next strategic planning process with a focus on five pillars:

  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): Values, Culture, and Campus Climate
  2. Affordability, and the Lifelong Value of a Berklee Degree
  3. Curricular and Programmatic Innovation
  4. Global Strategy, Partners and Presence
  5. The Higher Education Infrastructure of the Future

A comprehensive process of gathering insights and feedback from the entire Berklee community is concluding this spring in preparation for the detailed work of defining how these overarching goals will shape the institution’s future.

An accomplished musician, educator, and administrator, Muhl joined Berklee in 2021 following a distinguished 30-year career at the University of Southern California. A long-time tenured professor of composition at the USC Thornton School of Music, Muhl was tapped in 2012 to envision a new school at the university that would address the changing needs of 21st-century learners. The result was the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Since its launch in 2013, the Academy has become widely recognized as one of the most innovative schools in higher education, celebrated for its unique, integrative educational model and remarkable student outcomes. As the Academy's founding executive director and dean, Muhl developed the school’s vision, mission, and academic programs, positioning the Academy at the intersection of the arts, technology, digital communications, and entrepreneurship, and forging new educational paradigms for the future. Her final project as dean resulted in a groundbreaking partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District to create the Iovine and Young Center, a design, technology, and entrepreneurship magnet that is providing a powerful secondary school alternative to students and families across the district through experiential, challenge-based learning.

In addition to her career in higher education, Muhl has maintained an international career as a composer and conductor of contemporary concert music. Her works have been commissioned, performed, and broadcast by arts and cultural institutions around the world, including extensively in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In addition to her many other recognitions, Muhl is the recipient of the prestigious Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a lifetime achievement award from one of the nation's most select arts organizations. She has been composer in residence or guest composer at many of the world’s leading arts residencies and festivals, including as the guest of the cultural ministries of Mexico and Venezuela, and the American Academy in Rome.

Berklee has announced Sona Jobarteh, another trailblazing woman, as the keynote speaker for Muhl’s inauguration. A musician and educator from The Gambia, Jobarteh will also receive an honorary doctorate from Berklee and perform at the ceremony. Born into one of the five principal Griot families in West Africa, a hereditary tradition that dates back over 700 years to the Mali Empire, Jobarteh is the first female within this ancient tradition to master the kora, a 21-string instrument from the Mandeng regions. Originally introduced to the kora at the age of 4 by her elder brother Tunde Jegede, the musician went on to study intensively under her father from the age of 17, breaking an ancient, male-dominated tradition that had been exclusively handed down from father to son for the past seven centuries.

“Thank you, Berklee, for the inspiring recognition you have bestowed on me with this award, as it breathes greater strength, appreciation and pride into the work that I continue to dedicate my life to,” says Jorbarteh. “I am truly grateful for this moment in my life journey.”

Inauguration Events 

The Berklee Inauguration Symphony Orchestra

Monday, April 3, 7:00 p.m.
Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston

The Berklee Inauguration Symphony Orchestra will present the opening event to celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Erica Muhl. The collaborative orchestra of student, faculty, and staff performers from the College and Conservatory will perform Muhl’s work for large orchestra, “Burn the Box” (2011); her work for string orchestra, “Elegy: Disinherited Souls” (2010), a co-commission from the cities of Berlin and Dresden in remembrance of the victims of the Shoah, and featuring in this concert Saul Bitran, Julianne Lee, Owen Young, and Paul Laraia as soloists; and Muhl’s Variations for Piano and Orchestra (2023), a reimagining of her 1997 Variations for Piano newly composed by Muhl for virtuoso pianist and Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice faculty member Kris Davis.

The Berklee Inauguration Symphony Orchestra concert will also include two works selected by Muhl herself and written by composers whose seminal contributions to American concert music influenced Muhl’s career: Joan Tower’s "Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 6," and Samuel Barber’s "Knoxville: Summer of 1915." The orchestra will be conducted by Lucinda Carver, interim executive director of Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and Vimbayi Kaziboni, assistant professor, Boston Conservatory at Berklee. 

Tickets for this event are free. Reserve tickets.

Momentum: The Inauguration of Erica Muhl, DMA

Tuesday, April 4, 2023, 11:00 a.m.
MGM Music Hall at Fenway, 2 Lansdowne Street, Boston

The ceremony will feature an inaugural address by President Muhl as well as a keynote address and performance by vocalist and kora master Sona Jobarteh. Guests will be welcomed by the music of students The Wildmans, a family band from Floyd, Virginia. Berklee professor and conductor Julius P. Williams will lead the Berklee Inauguration Brass Ensemble in a performance of “Fanfare for the President” by student Ben Romanov. The celebratory event will also include a musical tribute by the Inauguration Faculty Jazz Quartet featuring Walter Smith III (saxophone), chair, Woodwind Department; and the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice team: Kris Davis (piano), associate program director of creative development; Linda May Han Oh (bass), associate professor; and Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), founder and artistic director.

Tickets for this event are free. Reserve tickets.

Watch the livestream

Great American Songbook: Girl on Fire—The Music of Alicia Keys

Tuesday, April 4, 7:00 p.m.
MGM Music Hall at Fenway, 2 Lansdowne Street, Boston

The Great American Songbook: Girl on Fire—The Music of Alicia Keys concert will celebrate the rich musical canon of singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, and activist Alicia Keys. It brings together an outstanding global collective of singers, rappers, instrumentalists, arrangers, track producers, dancers, and visual artists. Sharing their unique blend of artistry, cultures, and inspired interpretations of Keys’s repertoire, from intimate acoustic treatments to fully orchestrated arrangements, the setlist will include “A Woman’s Worth,” “No One,” “You Don’t Know My Name,” “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” “Girl on Fire,” “Brand New Me,” “Fallin’,” “Superwoman,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me,” and many more. The concert is produced by Maureen McMullan ’09.

Tickets for the event are free. Reserve tickets.

Related Categories