Graduates Number 137 in Valencia

September 1, 2017

On July 8, the commencement celebrations at the Berklee Valencia, Spain campus kicked off with a concert titled “La Nit de Berklee,” that attracted thousands to Valencia’s Hemisfèric. The concert also marked the fifth anniversary of the graduation of the class of 2013 with an alumni reunion that drew performers, composers, producers, and other music industry professionals from around the world.

John McLaughlin sits in with the student band at the commencement concert.

From the left: Berklee President Roger H. Brown, honoree John McLaughlin, and vice president for academic affairs/provost Jay Kennedy

The concert program featured performances by the commencement honoree, superstar guitarist John McLaughlin as well as DJs and student performers. The show culminated in a medley of songs by Leonard Cohen, George Michael, and Chuck Berry, honoring three of the musical icons that passed away during the past year.

Two days later on July 10 at Valencia’s Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, 137 new graduates, hailing from 30 nations, received graduate degrees in music production, technology, and innovation; scoring for film, television, and video games; and contemporary performance with a concentration in production; and global entertainment and music business.

During the proceedings Berklee President Roger H. Brown presented an honorary doctor of music degree to the legendary jazz-fusion guitarist, composer, and bandleader John McLaughlin. “Among the innumerable guitarists of the world, John McLaughlin has stood far above the crowd for half a century,” Brown noted as he introduced McLaughlin. Best known as the founder of the famed Mahavishnu Orchestra, McLaughlin has worked with such artists as Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Carlos Santana, Paco de Lucia, and many others in a career spanning five decades.

In accepting the degree, McLaughlin told the audience, “The role of music is today what it has always been in the past. It is the universal language of love, both human and divine. Music is our highest form of collective unity, since in any given concert there will be Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and atheists, all under one roof, enjoying music.”

McLaughlin also shared his thoughts on the centrality of jazz, noting, “From its early beginnings, jazz was—and is today—an integration of musical cultures.” He said that jazz can don the crown of global music given its influences in Central and South America, the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

McLaughlin concluded by telling the new grads, “Whatever we give to music with love and dedication is repaid a thousand times over back to us in ways that defy categorization. To be a musician is one of the greatest privileges.”

This article appeared in our alumni magazine, Berklee Today Fall 2017. Learn more about Berklee Today.
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