Boston, MA, (Press Release) – Close to 900 graduates from 58 countries received degreesÃ‚Â today at Berklee’s 2012 commencement. Berklee president Roger H. Brown presentedÃ‚Â honorary doctor of music degrees to Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Eagles, 27-timeÃ‚Â Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, and innovating Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke.Ã‚Â Astatke delivered the commencement address to the graduating class and an estimatedÃ‚Â crowd of more than 4,000 guests at the Agganis Arena.
In his commencement address, Astatke, Berklee’s first African graduate, thanked theÃ‚Â college for opening doors for musicians from developing nations, and encouragedÃ‚Â graduates to think outside the box. “At Berklee, I was immersed in a motivating andÃ‚Â creative academic environment where Ethio-jazz was conceived,” said Astatke. “YouÃ‚Â now have the skills and the education to create new innovations in music . . . YouÃ‚Â are a selected few with a special gift, and we all have great expectations for you.”
After accepting his honorary degree, Don Henley, referring to the studentÃ‚Â performance at Friday eveningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commencement concert, said, “Sometimes I worry aboutÃ‚Â the future of music and culture. But, after what we all witnessed here last night, IÃ‚Â have renewed hope and faith in the future of music. It was truly inspiring.”
An annual commencement concert took place on graduation eve, also at the AgganisÃ‚Â Arena. Some of the college’s most accomplished students presented a tribute to theÃ‚Â honorees with performances of music associated with their careers. Backed by theÃ‚Â Berklee Gospel Ensemble, Krauss performed the traditional Appalachian song Ã¢â‚¬Å“Down byÃ‚Â the River to Pray.Ã¢â‚¬Â Astatke played vibraphone with students on his compositionÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yakermew Sew.Ã¢â‚¬Â Other concert highlights included Eagles hits Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hotel California,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“Take It Easy,Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Desperado,Ã¢â‚¬Â and an Alison Krauss duets medley.
This year’s honorary doctorate recipients were recognized for their achievements inÃ‚Â contemporary music, for their enduring contributions to popular culture, and for theÃ‚Â influence their careers and music have had over Berklee’s international studentÃ‚Â body. Eagles, Krauss, and Astatke join the ranks of such esteemed recipients as DukeÃ‚Â Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones,Ã‚Â Smokey Robinson, David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Count Basie, Sting, Loretta Lynn, B.B.Ã‚Â King, Billy Joel, Chaka Khan, Steven Tyler, and Patti LaBelle.
Berklee’s class of 2012 graduated with bachelor of music degrees or professionalÃ‚Â diplomas. Female graduates numbered 280, representing 31 percent of the total class.Ã‚Â International students from 58 countries made up 34 percent of the class. TheÃ‚Â largest number of graduates from outside the United States were from South Korea andÃ‚Â Japan. Students from as far away as Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Belgium, Vietnam,Ã‚Â Ukraine, and Slovenia were among the graduating class. Domestic students were fromÃ‚Â 46 statesÃ¢â‚¬â€the greatest number from California, Massachusetts, and New York. The topÃ‚Â three majors were professional music, performance, and music business/management.Ã‚Â Guitar, voice, and piano were the three most common means of musical expressionÃ‚Â among students of the graduating class.
Contact: Berklee College of Music, Nick Balkin, 617-747-2247