| 17 May 2024
Berklee College of Music strengthens India bond, offers three scholarships

MUMBAI: For the third consecutive year, Berklee School visited India with an intention to further grow the bond created as an axis point for Indian artistes and students to share their music and learn aspects from the Boston-based music school. This year, the ‘Berklee India Exchange' announced three Indian students as the ‘Berklee A.R. Rahman Scholarship’ recipients. The official announcement was made at Bandra’s St. Andrew’s Auditorium on 19 May in the presence of the Indian music maestro.

The three students – Aman Sagar, Ronojit Chahala and Sarthak Mudgal – will be provided full scholarship for the batch beginning from fall 2016. Berklee President Roger Brown has played a vital role towards the enriching relationship between the western music and Indian culture through the exchange. On the latest gesture, Brown commented, “Berklee School understands that not every aspiring musician can afford attending a top music school, and after executing online classes for the ones who cannot make it to Boston, Berklee ensured the two cultures come closer through this scholarship.” Brown added that presenting an honorary doctorate to the Academy winner was a bigger honour to the school, than the other way round. “Do not just learn from Berklee School, but bring your Indian music to the school,” requested Brown.

On the initiative, Rahman said, “It’s a new beginning for many wonderful things to come. With the knowledge of western music infrastructure, these musicians will reshape their knowledge of music.”

Assamese student Ronojit Chahala – the youngest of the three – began with western classical music before moving to jazz. The 19-year-old is a self-taught musician when it comes to improvisations, and learned music in Shillong. For Chahala, Chick Corea’s ‘Romantic Warrior’ continues to remain the inspiration as a pianist, and the four-year-long Bachelor’s in Jazz Performance can very well be the turning point of his career. The 22-year-old Aman Sagar – a lifelong Rahman devotee – will join Chahala for the fall 2016 batch. Pop and Bollywood music acted as early influences for Sagar, and the passion converted an avid listener to a live performer. Sagar aims to stay relevant as a composer and a live performer and the Bachelor’s in Professional Music can act as the catalyst for the musician to achieve the same. The third scholar – Delhi-based Sarthak Mudgal – chose tabla as his medium of musical expression early in his life. With a YouTube channel and the moniker ‘Madari Mudgal’, the percussionist performs tabla on the guitars to create a one-of-a-kind sound.

Later that day, a concert was organised to celebrate the third successive collaboration ‘Berklee India Exchange’. The event featured performances from the Berklee faculty band comprising of members from India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Israel, Sweden and the United States. Among the special guests attending the event were AR Rahman, Clinton Cerejo, Vijay Prakash and jazz drummer Gino Banks. The combined total value of the AR Rahman scholarships is $516,000 (USD).