The decision to study abroad is among the most important, formative steps students can take in developing their academic and professional careers. The United States ranks among the top destinations in the world for international study, a point reflected in the makeup of Berklee’s student population: students from 100 countries outside of the U.S. compose 32 percent of our undergraduate classes in Boston and 30 percent of our graduate students here. They bring with them unique perspectives and artistic contributions that ultimately shape both the Berklee and international music communities. Furthermore, Boston is among the leading international cities for higher education and is rich with peer institutions that share these values. For those considering pursuing a degree in Boston at Berklee College of Music or Boston Conservatory at Berklee, it is important to know that Berklee has a long history of welcoming and nurturing musicians and performing artists from around the globe—and we will continue to do so.
Berklee was founded on jazz and popular music rooted in the African cultural diaspora; our international roots are at the core of our institution. We continue to carry on that tradition through our richly diverse curricular offerings, which include ensembles focusing on everything from South American folkloric music to contemporary Middle Eastern music, from African strings to our Balkan choir. Focused areas of study like the Berklee India Exchange, Mediterranean Music Institute, and Berklee Global Jazz Institute offer highly collaborative international programs that celebrate the stylistically rich music of culturally diverse regions and provide integrative learning opportunities to engage artists around the world. Whatever style of music you are interested in exploring, you will likely find it here, along with a global faculty to expertly guide you.
On-campus programming also provides access to musicians from across the globe. Berklee has provided students the opportunity to learn from and perform with greats such as Chinese-American pop superstar Wang Leehom, Indian vocalist and composer Shankar Mahadevan, Argentine composer Pablo Ziegler, Armenian pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan, Grammy Award– and Academy Award–winning cinematic composer A. R. Rahman, Brazilian singer-songwriter Rosa Passos, Spanish superstar Alejandro Sanz, and many, many more.
The breadth and depth of our curriculum and programmatic offerings are reflected in the contributions of our international alumni who permeate all aspects of the music industry. Renowned Turkish American producer Arif Mardin, who came here on the very first Quincy Jones Scholarship in 1956, went on to produce iconic artists including Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, David Bowie, and dozens more. The following decades have seen the talents of thousands of other international musicians converge at Berklee: Japanese jazz pianist Makoto Ozone, whose interview in the 2012 article “Go West” in the Japan Times details his take on why studying in the U.S. was so crucial for his artistic development; award-winning Moldovan harpist Ina Zdorovetchi, who received a “genius” green card, given to those deemed to have extraordinary ability in the arts; Ramin Djawadi, a German-Iranian composer who is best known for his score for HBO’s popular series Game of Thrones; and Firas Hassan, who earned his Master of Music in contemporary performance (production concentration) at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, and while there, initiated a project to record and preserve songs from his native Syria that have been handed down through oral tradition.
There is truly no better place than Berklee for a musician, dancer, or actor to meet other students, alumni, and faculty members who will inspire you, challenge you, collaborate with you on your projects, and become artistic partners throughout your career. Wherever you are, I look forward to welcoming you to Berklee and to Boston.
Roger H. Brown